08 April 2008

On personal preferences in learning

Not "learning styles"! That idea is useless and counter-productive, but nonetheless people do have preferences about how they learn best.

And the material on my sites certainly appeals to some of them; I'm lucky enough receive a handful of emails most days from readers who have taken the trouble to say they have found them useful. Some of them compare my work favourably with other material, not infrequently "official" material from a college or university. It's flattering, but in the interests of dispassionate evaluation it needs to be approached critically. Here's how I responded to one such email today—
"How nice of you to get in touch! Feedback like yours is always encouraging, and much appreciated.

But don't be too hard on [the university]! There's a lesson in all this...
  • You turned to my page after wrestling with their material. It's quite possible that had they not laid the foundations you would not have been able to make sense of it with the help of my page.

  • And quite possibly you looked at a few other pages before settling on mine; it just so happened that my approach clicked with you, just as I'm sure it fails to do with lots of other people who never tell me about it.
It has always been thus in teaching!

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Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.