Learning is good.

Posted: June 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

Learning Styles

  1. Analytic
  2. Watchers
  3. Doers

Analytic learners, according to Marcus Buckingham, learn by intellectually taking things apart. They do the homework, read the assigned reading, do well on the tests, enjoy and gain benefit from role play, and cannot stand mistakes. Before they act, they want to be sure that they’ve got all the important data secure. Observation doesn’t quite cut it because they don’t know all the unspoken and unseen factors that may be in play.

Watchers learn not by reading books and hearing lectures. This seems incomplete, fuzzy, and piecemeal to them. Watchers need (duh) to observe the skill or theory in action to really feel that they get it. And they tend to be context people–unless they see the total performance, it really doesn’t click. Watching just one component of the skill is like looking at only one pixel of a digital photo to a watcher. To teach them, let them shadow someone highly skilled for a week or two in a variety of contexts. That’s worth more to them than six months in the classroom.

Doers are basically poor students–but that does not mean that they’re poor learners, not at all. Doers learn basically by trial and error. They learn by mistakes as much as by successes. Perhaps the best way to teach a doer is to break a skill down into its component parts and let them try and master each piece at a time. If you can stand the painful process of failure, adjustment, failure, adjustment, success, then you just keep adding another piece until they’ve mastered the whole. These people are great for trying new things – while the analytic learners will basically wait until the results are published, and the watchers will – sorry for the obvious – learn by seeing the show.

My guess is that most of us aren’t simply one of these, but usually a combination. One of them, however, is probably dominant. What’s yours?

I think “action and reflection” or “reflection during action” describes mine. Without the real-life context to provide energy and realism to the theory, there’s no point. You may know that there exists a “Center for Action and Contemplation.” Imagine the power of a mystical think-tank that actually has calluses! I get excited just knowing something like that exists.

  1. Josh says:

    I’d say I’m more of a analytical doer.

  2. tdmiller says:

    Part of the reason I got so depressed at seminary in 2005 was that I had no real life situation of urgency to lend usefulness and therefore relevance to the classes I was taking. It didn’t apply to real people who I was trying to help right now, and therefore “Who cares?”

    perhaps that’s why I said that the best seminary method would be to engage in ministry and take classes for 7 years or whatever is manageable – and give us more electives (obviously we need our core orthodox theology straight first) so that we can take classes where the ministry needs arise. This model still has some merit, I think. The whole idea of separating reflection from action is just not cutting it for me. What isn’t applied is lost.

  3. Josh says:

    as i’ve been in ministry i’ve had so many questions. but in ministry there’s not a ton of space for reflection…it has to be built in, but most congregations aren’t going to build it in for the pastor, he/she has to build it in for him/herself. And it’s easy to get swept away with the doing so that there is little reflection.

    but i am finding that as i am doing the long distance learning, flying out to KC for seminary classes twice a year, that is giving me some quality space for reflection while I’m there. but that’s twice a year.

    hmm…there has to be balance in there somewhere.

    i also wonder how we can provide mentorship for those young arrogant pastors like myself…

  4. jeremy says:

    I lean toward “watching.” I crave seeing people do the things I am asked to do. Seems to me your a pretty “analytic” learner Tim. I could be off on that observation.

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