Learning Methods and Preferences and the Ways We Make Up The Difference

My youngest two children are fraternal twins:  a girl, Courtney, and a boy, Garrett.  I became aware very early in their lives that they were different kinds of learners.  Courtney was very hands on and liked to manipulate toys and puzzles.  She was a gifted athlete from an early age and was happiest outside playing.  Garrett was very verbal – wanting to create a logical argument over the simplest choice.  For example, the simple morning question “Which cereal would you like to have today” would elicit different responses.  Courtney would say “let me see the boxes.  Which has the most in it?  Which one has the prettiest picture on it?  I want to touch the cereal and see what it will feel like in my tummy.”  Garrett, on the other hand, would say “What if I don’t want cereal?  What are my other choices?  What if I don’t want breakfast at all?  What is the consequence?”  And so on.

What do you think would have happened if I had tried to parent them exactly the same way – ignoring these learning preferences?  Probably nothing earth shattering, but I found early on that if I altered my approach to accommodate their learning preferences, not only did I get what I wanted much more often, but I got it with much less hassle.  Isn’t that the ultimate goal of parenting anyway?

I have found throughout my life that we all have differing combinations of learning preferences.  Give me a map and I can find any location.  Give my husband directions and he is a happy man.  Give me a budget in the form of a chart with income sources along one axis and expenditures along the other and I can make any budget work.  Give my husband the bottom line – money in and money out – and he is delirious.

Just as we vary in our learning preferences, we all have different methods of learning that are more effective for us.  If I share a cubicle with my co worker and she is a visual learner who wants charts and graphs hanging on every surface while I am an auditory learner and want music playing all day, lots of phone conversations, and verbal explanations of everything – what are the chances we can peacefully co-exist without some accommodation to these differences?

Howard Gardner, a Harvard Psychologist, suggests that there at least eight intelligences:  logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, musical-rhythmic, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, existentialist, visual-spatial, and naturalist.  We each have all eight in differing amounts and degrees with two or three being most prominent.  What if a woman who is a logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, existentialist marries a man who is very musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, and interpersonal (outgoing).  Well, they say that opposites attract, so they could be blissfully happy or, more commonly, mystifyingly clueless about each other.

Gardner suggests that all eight of these types of intelligence can be learned and we can successfully accommodate the intelligences of others by understanding how they interact with our own.  This is what makes life interesting and fulfilling.  I love my office partner’s charts and graphs and she loves my music.  My daughter Courtney is a Special Education Teacher and my son Garrett is an Attorney.  Go figure.


Glenda Wilkes, Life Care ConsultantsContributed by Glenda Wilkes, CEO of Life Care Consultants

Life Care Consultants has been created for the purpose of providing coaching and consulting for families as they face decisions regarding the care of loved ones. It is critically important to know what resources are available and to have someone to provide knowledgeable assistance when a life-changing event requires difficult decisions. LCC will coach clients through these complex decisions and provide a series of services that are specifically designed for each client’s needs.

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