Multisensory learning and the future of teaching
Learning is sometimes a difficult task and whether we realize it or not, we are trained to learn. From an early age, we learn by being read to, by watching television, or by memorizing. We also learned from examples and experience. An old Chinese saying goes, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and maybe I’ll remember; plug me in and I’ll find out.” It is with this feeling that I will discuss the benefits of multisensory learning.
How many times have you sat in a classroom where you were bored to death? Think back to your many years in elementary school, middle school, or high school. What was the training format? Did the teacher stand in front of the class and lecture while you were trying to absorb the material. Was note taking so interactive? As society gets more high tech and kids are bombarded with more information from more sources, much of it on demand, it’s my opinion that teaching strategies will have to evolve.
Multisensory learning offers the student a chance to memorize something by experiencing it. Reading about baking a cake is not as productive as actually baking one. The child learns about ingredients and how they feel and smell. They learn about kneading, how long it takes to bake a cake and what it smells like when it’s done. They also learn how wonderful it tastes. Children who are tactile learners or children with disabilities get a chance to learn the same material as a child who would easily learn by reading alone. Gifted children will not be subjected to boredom, as they will also be engaged in the learning process. Multisensory learning is a gateway to improving the learning process for all children.
Each lesson should include hands-on experience. If the lesson is about fractions, let the kids play with plastic pie slices to find out. If the lesson is about writing, play games that allow students to identify better writing techniques. Use the computer and online resources to take learning to a new level where they can see, hear and interact. Consider the potential of touchscreens in education, where a child can easily slide objects back and forth across the screen and learn in the process.
Today’s students are Internet savvy and familiar with on-demand learning. Many of today’s classrooms still try to push information when they should be engaging the student, essentially pulling them into a lesson. The benefits of multisensory learning are better comprehension, better retention, and a more inclusive learning environment that accommodates differences in student abilities. To be successful, teachers must engage their students by creating a learning environment that takes advantage of all of the student’s senses.
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