Educational double-think

Michael C. Corballis

in Neuroscience in Education

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600496
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739187 | DOI:
Educational double-think

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The idea that people are either verbal or visual thinkers is current not only in popular mythology, but also in the educational concept of ‘learning styles’. Teaching methods, it is claimed, should be tailored to accommodate either the verbal or visual proclivities of the students. Careful examination of the evidence indicates that the distinction is without foundation, at least with respect to the effectiveness of educational practice. It may be true that some people are good at verbal skills, some at visual skills, but just as many are good at both or good at neither — and there are, of course, many shades in between. An associated but equally suspect idea is that people are either left-brained or right-brained. These distinctions may reflect a natural human tendency to see the world and its inhabitants in terms of dichotomies, thereby overlooking the very complexities that make us human. They may also reflect a politically correct but often misguided (and indeed dangerous) attempt to define talent in those who fail to achieve academically. The natural disposition to dichotomize is exploited by individuals and organizations only too eager to profit from human folly.

Keywords: learning styles; verbal thinkers; visual thinkers; teaching methods

Chapter.  4457 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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