Why do we overestimate the importance of differences?

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“For a difference to be a difference, it must make a difference.” William James

We’re all different. Obviously. Just like snowflakes, human beings are all special, unique and entirely individual. But like snowflakes, maybe those differences aren’t as important as we might sometimes like to think. When it snows the difference between individual flakes is irrelevant. For all we have our very own permutations of DNA, the fact our physiognomies are broadly similar means we behave in broadly similar ways. Of course we have an infinite variety of differences in ability, but the way we learn is surprisingly similar.

You doubt me? Apparently 90% of teachers continue to believe that children conform to particular learning styles  and that teaching must account for these different styles if it is to be effective. I’m sure you’ve come across VAK – the idea that we’re all either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners and we can only really be expected to learn when instruction is tailored to these specific needs? This is codswallop. We might well have a preference for seeing, listening or doing, but if we believe that the best way to learn the shape of a map of Australia is to listen to a description of it, that the best way to learn how the piano is just to bash away at the keys, or that we should learn to play tennis by watching Wimbledon, then we’re very clearly and sadly wrong.

Read more on The Learning Spy

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