I recently showed a friend the wool felt purses that I’ve been making. I wish you could see the colorful print linings these have inside.
My friend said to me “I wish I was creative.” When I reminded her that she already was, she told me she wished she was creative with “stuff”. My friend is gregarious and an excellent salesperson in addition to her other many talents. We were looking at the purses and I assured her that she could also create them. Then I showed her that there are many great videos on youtube.com that show how to make great bags. It was then that she told me she learns best by doing projects along with other people. That’s when I finally began to understand. The lack of available group crafting was holding her back.
People learn and produce in so many different ways. Educators have long understood that different students receive information and/or produce things in different ways. It’s common knowledge that some people learn best by listening while others do better when they receive information visually. Some of us learn better when we are taught through the manipulation of materials. For years, the children who did especially well in school were those who learned best by listening and reading. When we talk about how people learn, we often discuss learning styles.
If you make jewelry, do you carefully read the directions for something in a magazine that you want to make or do you mainly look critically at the pictures? Perhaps you have better luck when what you want to make is presented to you through a video. Maybe you learn the best by attending a workshop wherein others are learning the same thing.
While the work on learning styles is intriguing, that of Dr. Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences has proven equally important. Multiple Intelligences help us understand ways in which people are smart. Dr. Howard Gardner propelled many of us to reconsider how we allow students to demonstrate what they know. Originally, Gardner identified seven intelligences including verbal/linguistic, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical/rhythmic, and logical/mathematical. Later Gardner added naturalistic intelligence. While some people can tell what they know and may produce articles and succinct blogs, others produce better through drawing or creating visuals. We all have some degree of each type of intelligence, but our intelligence profiles vary.
I think that it’s interesting that the way we learn is not always indicative of the way we produce. For example, I AM NOT successful when I try to read the directions for a jewelry project. I use the pictures. Yet, I produce reasonably well through words. I have published books full of detailed directions for school teachers and have completed numerous articles that have also been published. So why don’t I learn in that manner?
There is no one way through which it is better for people to learn nor is there one way that is the BEST way to produce. I do, however, believe that successful people have figured themselves out. They have accepted how they learn best and look for information presented that way. They have also figured out the best way they produce and find situations wherein they can do just that. I also believe that some of us never figure either out because we are not offered different ways or do not experiment with different ways of learning and doing things. And the moral is . . . I’m sure it doesn’t need to be spelled out. Suffice it to say that we need to know ourselves. I’ve tried multiple ways to learn and realize that I learn best through videos or visuals. I also learn best alone rather than in a group. If I can get information this way, learning is pretty painless. Learning by reading or listening while with a group of people is a double bad whammy! What about you? If you haven’t explored all your options, I say “go for it!” Find and excel in your multidimensional self!