VAK and Skill Flexing

Some people would prefer to watch video for content and maybe claim that this is appropriate because they are ‘visual’ learners for whom text is difficult.

Still others lay claim to be ‘kinesthetic’ learners who must approach new learning through embodied action, by doing things and, for them text is inadequate and videos are only a little better.

The first thing to know is that the idea that learners are ‘visual’ or ‘auditory’ or ‘kinesthetic’ (sometimes known as the VAK theory) is just an idea that has not been validated by research. Therefore it does not have the status of a theory, it is better called a conjecture. And there is gathering evidence to show that it is not true.

Flexing our skills

At Gaia U we think that, whilst we may have preferences for one form of presentation over another, we can, with some effort, learn to flex[1] our skills to use all forms, especially if we work at recovering from any learning distresses we might have (such as those we might have collected around reading and writing due to clumsy schooling earlier in life).

Our logic is that it is better to work at recovering from distress[2] and to expand our ability to forage for content beyond Youtube or similar popular video repositories. This way we learn to be flexible self-foragers who can handle diverse forms of presentation.

As an example, a person who is currently more practiced at learning through visual media could (a) focus on imagining visual scenarios stimulated by the content of an auditory resource and (b) break the auditory/text based resource down into keywords and rebuild it into an XMind Map to give it more visual strength. Over time this person would become increasingly skilled at handling auditory/text based content without necessarily converting it to something more visual.

Likewise a person most oriented to hands-on learning (kinesthetic) could look at visual material and turn it into a song and dance and sing/dance it to themselves and/or take auditory/text based material and break out the key concepts, make cards of these (a hands-on operation) and use these as flash cards whilst taking a walk. Sooner or later this person would have significantly extended their learning skill-flex to include reading for information (a key Scholar Skill).

[1] Flex, flexing – as in flexing our muscles means stretching, becoming pliant, working happily at redefining our edges, searching for new ways to think, new skills to learn – in Gaia U we use skill-flex rather than skill-set so as to always emphasize the potential for growth and creativity around our intelligences.

[2] Distress/distresses – here is a feature of Gaia U that, whilst not unique, is uncommon. We recognize that some of our ways of thinking and acting are, at times, ‘distressed’. These distresses have been installed in a person’s psyche and we also know that distresses can be un/learned – that is, a person is not obliged to be victim of their distresses and nor do they need to consider these to be an immutable part of their character. We can be confident that, with sharp tools and adequate support to hand, we can uncover and release the distresses thereby recovering our full, flexible and brilliant intelligences.