All of us know what it’s like to start something new; to be a complete beginner and learn how to do something from scratch. Progress can be slow at times, even frustrating, but we must learn if we hope to become proficient in our chosen area. Martial Arts (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in particular) has taught me a many great deal of things so far, including how I learn best.
When it comes to learning, the modern consensus is that no two people learn in the same way. We are all different people, so it stands to reason that we will learn differently too. Better understanding how you learn may be the edge you need to help fast track your improvement and progress.
Most people have a favored way of learning, whether we are aware of it or not. In my time in education, I’ve been exposed to some very profound research on this and it has made me acutely aware of just how important it is not just to understand these learning styles, but attempt to discover how best we learn for ourselves so that we can maximize our learning potential throughout our lives.
Whether it’s in the gym, the classroom, the art studio or at work, there are things we are going to have to learn if we hope to grow as human beings. There are three key learning styles that most people prescribe to, some people have a dominant one and some will prefer a blend or combination depending on the circumstances.
By understanding these styles, we can better apply this to our training, study or work to employ techniques that will maximize our ability to absorb information and learn more efficiently.
So the Visual learning style applies to those who absorb information by watching or reading. Those who have a dominant visual style are often considered to have “Photographic Memories”, which allows them to consume and retain highly detailed visual information and recall it accurately in practice. The visual learner is likely artistic and finds themselves doodling or using their hands to gesture and has the tidiest notes with that hand writing that makes you feel like you don’t even have a pen license yet. Notoriously good at crosswords and has high levels of spacial awareness and distance.
Pictures and diagrams are common tools used by visual learners. There are real benefits for visual learners when it comes to video, photographic and flow diagrams that allow the eye to process new information.
Auditory learning applies to those who process information by listening. The majority of instructions people receive on a daily basis comes in the form of verbal communication. These are the kind of people who remember what you said word for word a year ago, or who remember your name, job, age and interests after the first time you talk to them. They might be musically inclined, and annoyingly can listen to a song once and replicate it flawlessly. The auditory learner is also highly verbal, and is a proficient speaker and conversationalist. The auditory learner will also likely be able to explain things in a way that others can understand and makes for a good sideline coach or instructor.
Using music, verbal queues or audio recordings are effective tools for these kind of learners as they will be able to retain and recall information they hear in more effective ways. The auditory learner will also need to talk things through more than others, this will primarily help them to process what they are learning when they can discuss it and create an order of things in their mind.
Kinesthetic learning refers to those who learn best by physically performing the tasks they are trying to learn. This is usually seen when it comes to sport and physical tasks that require precise movement or motor control. These are the people you see with the perfect golf swing after only a few weeks of practice and instruction. A Kinesthetic learner (generally) has genetically strong coordination, balance or agility and an innate understanding of how their body moves.
Techniques that work for Kinesthetic learners include drilling and repetition. They need hands on involvement and will be very tactile in their approach. By feeling what they are doing and understanding how their body best executes a task, they will quickly become proficient performing it.
Finding out how best you learn is deeply personal and takes time and reflection to understand, but it is highly rewarding. Once you have a better knowledge of how you yourself learn, you can begin to learn in more effective ways and pursue that path to mastery in an efficient and constructive way.