Learning Styles Strategies on Creativity and Talent Development
How might we use learning styles to help us become more effective in teaching for creative and critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making?
For several decades, educational theorists, researchers, and practitioners have invested a great deal of effort and time seeking to determine the particular set of characteristics that set people in one category apart from others who are not part of that group. We have struggled to determine what tests or checklists might best be used to place people most accurately into one group or category or another. Long lists of characteristics and traits abound in the literature; a catalog of the cited attributes of gifted or creative people might easily include 300 or more proposed traits.
Yet one finding is particularly striking: many of the characteristics in such lists have tended to be inconsistent or incompatible with each other; that is, if a person might be described in one way, it would not be possible to describe that individual with certain other traits that also appeared in the overall list.
I dare not even hazard a guess about how many students have been selected for (or excluded from) one kind of educational program or another on the basis of the results of one or more rating scales or checklists.
We have often used them to decide that a particular student was, or was not, creative or gifted because they matched, or did not match, those sets of traits closely enough.
When we first began to explore the area of learning styles in relation to creativity and giftedness, we tried to search for a single set of learning style preferences that might be described as a creative or gifted learning style. At first, it was disappointing that no single, uniform set of preferences could be isolated that would describe every person equally well.
Eventually, we began to explore a very different - and much more exciting - possibility:
That there are, in fact, many ways for one's giftedness to be manifest in daily life. This redirection of our thinking led to a much more intriguing and challenging realization. Rather than searching for a single set of creative or gifted learning styles, we started to think about learning style as a powerful set of tools to help individuals understand their strengths and interests and then use those as enablers for creative productivity and talented accomplishments.
HELPING STUDENTS USE CREATIVE TOOLS
There may well be similar profiles of learning style preferences in various specific talent areas or domains. However, there are many ways that any person can use self-understanding of one's own learning style preferences to channel and direct one's efforts and energies in ways that are quite likely to be successful and rewarding. …