Knowing Your Primary Learning Style the Key that Opens the Door to Your Maximum Potential
I ran into a couple while traveling overseas and the wife said I just have a hard time understanding the Bible when I read it but when I listen to the Bible on tape I get it. I immediately thought this woman has a primary learning style that is an auditory learner. She also mentioned my husband can read the Bible once and he gets it. Well, it became apparent that her husband had a primary learning style of being a visual learner. Naturally I asked other questions such as does your husband like charts, pictures, diagrams and written instructions, the answer was yes. Regarding the wife I asked did she like when information is read out loud and the answer was a resounding yes. I didn't discount a clinical aspect such as previous head trauma that would require a medical doctor's expertise but she didn't mention any clinical challenges.
To possess a sustainable belief system we must read scripture and pray every day but some of us have problems with the reading aspect and others with the praying aspect. The causes vary from person to person. Many Christians when honest will confess they do not read their Bibles because it is dry, it means nothing to them or they read a verse and section over and over and they cannot absorb nor understand what they just read. Yes the learning disability such as dyslexia comes to mind but as leaders we should include exploring the topic of predominant learning styles as it pertains to employees, congregations or audiences, making adjustments for it so that all parishioners get the benefit of scripture via their primary learning style.
We should attempt to be compassionate by trying not to be so rigid to require all parishioners to obtain information from the Bible every day via reading only but consider giving them the option of obtaining the information daily via auditory learning on DVD, CD, streaming or other auditory media and kinesthetically via substantive Bible games, Bible trivia played at home, a combination of field trips to Biblical sights where they can touch objects, displays, museums, friends sharing show and tell objects in small groups at scheduled times maybe over lunch with a combination of people alongside verbalizing what they are seeing while the individual handles and touches artifacts. Some individuals require a combination of learning styles to assimilate information. Be flexible with visual learning by including live plays, documentaries and movies that are well researched and that can be discussed. This is also an opportunity to pray for your congregation and audiences that those who have challenges absorbing information by reading will be healed. There is great psycho-spiritual benefit contained in the scriptures that God wants us to experience as well as the joy of reading indicated in Proverbs 4:21 " Let them not depart from thine eyes keep them in the midst of thine heart."
It is important to remember every individual learns differently and thus has a predominant learning style. The 3 learning styles are as follows:
1. Visual - benefits from diagrams, charts, pictures, films and written directions.
2. Auditory - benefits when directions are read aloud, speeches are required, the
information presented verbally.
3. Kinesthetic - benefits by touching, feeling, experiencing the material in hand.
There are Biblical precedents to all three learning styles.
God our Creator addressed all three learning styles to ensure His word had at least one pathway to our hearts if not all three pathways working simultaneously. Joshua 1:8 addresses the auditory learning style knowing we hear what we say as we speak God's word. Joshua 1:8 records - " Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, This set of instructions is not to cease being a part of your conversations, This law scroll must not leave your lips." In other words don't stop speaking God's word consistently. For some Christians, the greatest impact occurs when the word of God reaches our heart via sound and words.
Proverbs 4:21 addresses the visual learning style when it records "don't let God's word out of your sight, Do not let them depart before your eyes." For some Christians, the greatest impact comes through the eyes and through reading.
Deuteronomy 11:18 addresses the Kinesthetic learning style via tefillin when it records " write them down, tie them around your wrist, wear them as headbands as a reminder." Here Adonai instructed observing Jews to apply to their arm, hand, finger with kosher leather straps, the kosher leather box with small scrolls from Torah and another kosher leather box with scriptures called tefillin, phylacteries or front-lets placed above the forehead. Some people experience the greatest impact via touching and manipulating objects. We are informed to do whatever it takes to successfully transmit and to deposit God's word into the soil of our hearts so that the miracle of germination can occur as it occurs in the natural soil when seeds are planted.
Leaders have an opportunity to show love and compassion for parishioners and audiences by keeping some simple facts in mind. Approximately 30% of our population remembers things that are seen and read visually. These parishioners will do well with traditional daily Bible reading but what about the others who have been struggling to read their Bibles daily because they aren't getting anything out of it and haven't for years. There is another group in your congregation who are kinesthetic who like to take notes, write or use their fingers to type out notes on a laptop which helps them remember basic information. Remember not to forget the third group who learn through auditory input.
Auditory Learners tend to benefit mostly from verbal sermons, speeches, a lecture style forum, having someone explain a topic verbally rather than read a handout and even worse read an article. Auditory learners succeed when information is read out loud verbally for them and many times are embarrassed to ask a Pastor for the accommodation. Auditory learners will say, "just tell me and I'll get it done for you." Some auditory learners may also say "you just have to explain it once and I'll get it done for you." Note, however, leaders themselves must train to function and to receive information via all three categories of learning if they are to function at a high level of excellence because some information critical to graduate and fellowship levels can only be obtained via all three levels.
Visual Learners say "just show me how to do it and I will understand." Visual learners benefit from diagrams, charts, pictures, films and written directions. Christians who buy a lot of DVD teaching tapes may be visual learners while Christians who purchase mountains of CDs may be auditory learners. Visual learners may also say "just write it down for me and I am set." Some Kinesthetic learners are also similar requiring note taking and having to hold a pen, pencil, touch a keyboard to trigger the learning process. However, visual learners like to make 'to do lists' so information becomes visual.
Kinesthetic Learners are the largest group of learners, > 40% of our population and as a result education and information highways have to include a hands-on approach using manipulatives, props, incorporated when teaching any subject to include on-the-job-training. Kinesthetic learners will say, "may I hold that for a second" to activate learning through touching. You will notice kinesthetic learners always picking up items, experiencing the texture of objects with their fingers and flipping objects over studying each side. When a trainer passes a display around to a class the kinesthetic learners will handle the items for the longer periods of time. Hands on techniques even from the lectern are effective because they address the needs of all three groups when together, kinesthetic learners, visual learners and auditory learners.
The take away is incorporate all three learning styles into each presentation so that your audience has the benefit of all three learning styles. When we identify our unique learning style we can begin to build upon it. Understanding our predominant learning style is the first step towards maximizing our potential. John 16:12 provides insight into learning limitations to include human attention span and records “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now.” The writer understood the dynamics of human learning and made accommodations. According to a 2015 Microsoft Corporation study and 2013 Pew Research Center Poll, current attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015 and the most common meeting length is between 31-60 minutes. Being able to sit for a lecture, meeting or sermon for a duration that exceeds the 31-60 minute window is supernatural and this includes being distracted and regaining focus several times.
Although human attention span and engagement can be increased by intentional strategies we must rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the bodies, minds, and spirits of the audience so learning and positive behavior change can take place without fatigue. My recommendation is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to the feelings of the audience. Rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom regarding when to stop or change course from speaking to praying for the audience. Finally, expect God's intervention and allow the Holy Spirit to imprint Himself through a defining memory even a defining moment, that influences thought and behavior for a lifetime.