Listen to the Child.Anyone who studies cognition and intelligence quickly comes to realize that people have different preferred ways of learning and thinking.Some people learn best by reading; others by hearing lectures.Some people think best about math problems using spatial reasoning or intuition; others prefer to employ logical skills.Some people solve problems or tasks by grinding forward one step at a time; others just toss the whole problem into a sort of mental Cuisinart and let things blend for a while until a solution emerges.Some people think best while seated quietly and concentrating intensely; others prefer to move around in an environment full of background noise and activity.
In fact, it is safe to say that we do not understand intelligence, learning and thinking very well at all, and that there are probably many strategies, abilities, techniques, and preferences that we cannot even identify. All that we can really be sure of is that different children need different learning environments.
What does this mean for us?What does this tell us about teaching our children?
Well, it suggests that we should not try to force a particular method of learning or thinking upon a child.We should instead present the child with an environment that is rich in content, and then allow the child to determine, with our help, how to deal with that content.In other words, we allow the child to pick her learning strategies, although we make a strong effort to help her get exposure to as many different possible approaches as possible.
Stated yet another way, we teach interactively rather than didactically; we listen as well as talk.