Teach to the Learning Majority
Of the 23,701 students surveyed over the past 10 plus years by the Learning Success Learning Style Profile we see that 66% of our students identify as Inventing, Thinking/Creating, or Performing Disposition, or a combination of two of these. Ironically, our schools are set up to serve and reward Producing and Relating/Inspiring students who are actually the learning minority. Our schools’ expectations and methods for teaching are worlds apart from the learning style needs of the majority of their students.
When schools begin to teach to the learning majority we can level the learning playing field so more students can show HOW they are smart.
THE LEARNING MAJORITY
The learning majority is a dynamic mix of extroverts and introverts. It includes philosophers, actors, fine artists, physics and chemistry buffs, techno whizzes, musicians, dancers, and innovators. They are those who question and argue their points, those who love learning for learning’s sake and don’t care about getting good grades. Their learning Dispositions are Inventing, Thinking/Creating, and Performing.
Inventing Disposition students who make up 25% of the learning majority have lots of questions—more than are efficient or convenient for teachers to handle. These students love to debate their points and may seem argumentative or uncooperative to some. They are usually logical in their thinking and tend to get stuck in their own thought channels and to have trouble changing from subject to subject on a schedule. Their thought experiments and projects are their primary focus, not homework or grades. They are often interested in technology and sciences and are often looking for real-world solutions to real-world problems. They are highly self-motivated learners when they are pursuing their own interests.
Although bright, these students often do not get good grades, and their single mindedness of focus and lack of interest in the social side of school cause concern. Many of these students are labeled A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder) or A.D.H.D. (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) if they also have a Performing Disposition.
Thinking/Creating Disposition students make up 13% of the learning majority. These students are often identified as having A.D.D. They can appear to be in a world of their own. They are deep thinkers, reserved, quiet, tend to observe more than they participate, and take a long time to process information and often seem slow to comprehend. These students often gravitate to philosophy and/or the arts.
Rather than find alternative ways to interest and involve these students, they are often medicated to improve their focus or they are overlooked because usually they are not behavior problems, and they fall through the cracks.
Performing Disposition students make up 26% of the population and are often labeled A.D.H.D. They need to move to learn. It is difficult for them to sit still for long periods of time, and they are continually getting in trouble because of it. They are often natural entertainers and like to be the center of attention. You can often see them lined up outside the vice principal’s office for clowning around or otherwise disrupting class.
They are probably the least understood of all the learning dispositions and the most persecuted. Although there are positive ways to channel their spiritedness and increase constructive participation, we continue to medicate them and/or subject them to harsh discipline.
THE LEARNING MINORITY
Producing and Relating/Inspiring Disposition students make up the learning minority—a combined 37%. Although in the minority these students meet schools’ expectations for participation and cooperation, so they generally do at least passably well. Hence, the three to five students in every classroom that get all the A’s. In contrast, because they learn in alternative ways, the learning majority challenges the skills, preferences, and expectations of the school system.
Producing Disposition students thrive on structure. They are organized, on time, and prepared. They are cooperative, do their homework and turn it in on time. They usually have good listening skills and impulse control so they can sit still for long periods of time. They usually do well on tests and take pride in getting good grades. They make up, at most, 19% of learners in our schools and receive almost all the A grades.
Relating /Inspiring Disposition students make up 18% of the population. Their focus is their social group, which often motivates their desire to stay in school. They are often very involved in the personal lives of their friends and experience daily, emotional highs and lows. Always ready to get together with friends, go to a party, call someone just to talk, they usually see themselves as helpers and supporters for others and feel most comfortable in environments where there is fairness, cooperation, and harmony.
These students need to work with others to be at their learning best, but they have enough interactive skills to make their way through school with passable grades and don’t draw negative attention to themselves.
THE TEACHING MAJORITY
Seventy-five percent of teachers identify as having a Producing and Relating/Inspiring Disposition and respond well and easily to students who have the same Dispositions.
It could be said that we have a school system that rewards Producing and Relating/Inspiring skills—attracting teachers with those dispositions who foster students who have the same skills. In an age of technology, arts, and innovation this seems a bias that we can no longer afford to foster.
Clearly we need to broaden the expectations and methodologies of schools and teachers to support and encourage the talents of the learning majority as well as the learning minority.