Preserving kinaesthetic teaching in a digital age


Our children are growing up in a world vastly different from the world older generations grew up in. Over just the past five to six years technology in the classroom has radically changed and now learning through digital tools is the norm.  But what does this mean for children whose learning styles don’t suit new technologies?  What about kids who thrive on tactile or kinaesthetic learning?

What is kinaesthetic learning and who thrives on it?

It’s broadly accepted that there are three main types of learning style; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.  Both the visual and auditory learner can be catered for by digital equipment  as they learn best either from visual aids like pictures, colours, to-do lists and calendars or from sound and verbalisation.  The kinaesthetic learner, however, needs to interact with information in a physical way.  They thrive on touch and active engagement in learning environments to take in information.  Movement is key and the kinaesthetic learner will struggle if their teacher favours a traditional instructive style rather than something more interactive.

Most adults learn best through visual or auditory styles but nearly all young children are kinaesthetic learners.  According to developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, people who use their body to create or do something, like surgeons or dancers, are likely to have strong kinaesthetic intelligence.

Is it really under threat?

Though individuals have different learning styles research indicates that a mixture of teaching techniques will result in the best learning.  Ideas and information should be consolidated through different methods and this includes getting kids involved in hands on learning.  The worry is that with the rise of digital equipment a child’s relationship with their physical environment may get skewed.  As teaching methods develop to cater for the average child “growing up digital” will those learners who aren’t adept to this kind of teaching suffer? Numerous reports have been recently produced to develop teaching which takes into account how children now relate to their environment and take in information, and all these call for a digitalisation of the classroom.  Though it’s important update teaching according to a changing world, taking everything from the physical classroom into a computer, laptop or tablet may well alienate some members of the classroom.

The classroom will inevitably evolve to harness the power of digital media, and this is by no means a bad thing, but what we may need to be wary of is putting too much energy and focus and digital platform, whilst neglecting physical interaction in the classroom, and thereby neglecting the kinaesthetic learner.

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