Saturday, April 17, 2010

Epistemology 101

Someone told me once that I am not normal because while normal people think about what others are feeling a lot I think about what other people are thinking. To be fair, this was said to me on a date, so maybe he had a point. I am very interested in how people think. My work requires me to operate as if I understood how other people think, but this is really unknowable. We can barely scratch the surface of the minds of others. Honestly, it is very difficult to understand how I think, and that is the one mind that I can see inside. I am extremely interested in how people think. I find myself trying to find patterns and categories for ways of thinking.

Last night, I was at dinner with some friends that I have known forever. I have been thinking a lot about the learning modalities that we are generally taught (auditory, kinesthetic, and visual). I used to think that we all learned in all these ways, but recentely I have noticed in myself that I really only learn through the modality of auditory. I have noticed that if I am shown a graphic or a map I convert it to words before I master the information. I have a really hard time learning exercises or dance moves because they are always taught by doing. I have to verbally translate it in my head. Anyway, after I realized that I convert maps into words, I developed a question to compare my way of thinking to my friends. So, I asked everyone at the table the following question: "If you were going to get driving directions from Google Maps would you usually print the words and rely on those the first few times you drove it or would you print out a map. When you were driving back would you would reverse the directions using the words or look at the map or remember how to get back based on your drive to the place?"

There was quite a divide among my friends and I. If I were going to categorize people's ways of thinking based on this question, I would do it as follows.

An Auditory learner will use the word directions several times before mastering the directions.

A Visual learner will use the map a couple of times to learn the directions.

A kinesthetic learner may start with the map or the words, but will master the directions by driving it. He or she may strongly prefer to follow someone.

Next time that I tutor an adult in something or advise them on mastering material I will ask them this question first. I would them give them strategies based on the way that particular person learns and thinks.


Ricochet said...

I convert verbal direcctions into a map (and my mother does as well, because we have discussed this).

If I am riding with someone to a place I will have to get back to I have to pretend to drive (in order to focus my attention and remember) - so I can do the kinesthetic thing.

Verbal alone? Forget it. I teach math (in the for what it is worth category). As other people chime in, I;d like to know what they teach or what their favorite course is.

Ricochet said...

I love how this shows no comments on the main post - but there is a comment!! Teacher, my hand is up!!

ms.understood said...

I saw your comment Ricochet=). I think that is interesting. I teach all subjects because I teach at an elementary school, but my preference and certification is Middle School Language Arts. I guess that would line up with being very auditory.

mrsgee said...

i am definitely the person who would want the map and prefers to follow. i am a landmark kind of girl. street names, bah. cardinal directions, bah. tell me what it is next to. and, like ricochet, if i have to get back there, i'd better be driving, or at least pretending to drive or i will NEVER remember. i currently teach middle school choir, but have also taught middle school band and elementary music.