Most of us travel through life without an understanding of how we learn best. We learn, but we don't know why or how we learn. Being aware of your own learning style can enable you to minimize learning weaknesses, maximize your strengths and set realistic goals.
Each of us has our own intelligence, our own set of abilities, talents and mental skills. Here are seven categories of intelligence.
These people have the ability to perceive the visual. They tend to think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. They enjoy looking at maps, charts, pictures, videos and movies. They thrive on muscle and bone charts.
Their skills include puzzle building, reading, writing, understanding charts and graphs, a good sense of direction, sketching, painting, creating visual metaphors and analogies (perhaps through the visual arts), manipulating images, constructing, fixing, designing practical objects, interpreting visual images.
One student I knew who was failing miserably figured out that if she drew pictures of all the muscles, origins and insertions, she could prepare well for an exam and never failed an exam after this discovery.
These people have a heightened ability to use words and language. They have highly developed auditory skills and are generally elegant speakers. They think in words rather than pictures. The great teachers have this down, and we can listen to them speak all day.
Their skills include listening, speaking, writing, story telling, explaining, teaching, using humor, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, convincing someone of their point of view, analyzing language usage.
These people have the ability to use reason, logic and numbers. They think conceptually, in logical and numerical patterns, making connections between pieces of information. Always curious about the world around them, these learners ask many questions and like to do experiments. They seem to ask too many questions, but guess who passes the test time in and time out?
Their skills include problem solving, classifying and categorizing information, working with abstract concepts to figure out the relationship of each to the other, handling long chains of reason to make local progressions, doing controlled experiments, questioning and wondering about natural events, performing complex mathematical calculations, working with geometric shapes.
These people have the ability to control body movements and handle objects skillfully. They express themselves through movement. They have a good sense of balance and eye-hand coordination. (e.g., ball play, balancing beams). Through interacting with the space around them, they are able to remember and process information. Hands-on class is a dreamland for kinesthetic learners.
Their skills include dancing, physical coordination, sports, hands-on experimentation, using body language, crafts, acting, miming, using their hands to create or build, expressing emotions through the body.
These people have the ability to produce and appreciate music. These musically inclined learners think in sounds, rhythms and patterns. They immediately respond to music, either appreciating or criticizing what they hear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds (e.g., crickets, bells, dripping taps). If you are a musically inclined learner, add some massage music to your study time.
Their skills include singing, whistling, playing musical instruments, recognizing tonal patterns, composing music, remembering melodies, understanding the structure and rhythm of music.
These people have the ability to relate to and understand others. They try to see things from other people's point of view in order to understand how they think and feel. They often have an uncanny ability to sense feelings, intentions and motivations. They are great organizers, although they sometimes resort to manipulation. Generally they try to maintain peace in group settings and encourage cooperation. They use both verbal (e.g., speaking) and nonverbal language (e.g., eye contact, body language) to open communication channels with others. This is an awesome skill for a massage therapist to develop.
Their skills include seeing things from other perspectives (dual-perspective), listening, using empathy, understanding other people's moods and feelings, counseling, cooperating with groups, noticing people's moods, motivations and intentions, communicating both verbally and nonverbally, building trust, peaceful conflict resolution, establishing positive relations with other people.
These people have the ability to self-reflect and tune in to their own inner state of being. They try to understand their inner feelings, dreams, relationships with others, and strengths and weaknesses.
Their skills include recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses, reflecting and analyzing themselves, awareness of their inner feelings, desires and dreams, evaluating their thinking patterns, reasoning with themselves, understanding their role in relationship to others.
It may not be necessary to know which of these categories you are in to be successful in school. However, if you are having difficulty, it may help to test yourself, and identify the best and most efficient way for you to learn.
Editor's note: You can learn more about this subject from Multiple Intelligences: the Theory into Practice, by Howard Gardner, Basic Books, 1993.