Monday, 8 July 2019

The Myth about The Myth Of Learning Styles….

I would like to add my own perspective / interpretation to the subject of Learning Styles, about which a lot of people seem to be quite evangelical. I believe a myth has evolved as to what the whole concept of Learning Styles is about and I offer my views as a counterpoint. 

The reference to “Learning Styles” has been misinterpreted for years, in my opinion

We all take in information and learn things in different ways – watching a video/ film or demonstration, looking at diagrams/pictures, listening to verbal instructions, reading information via books, having a go at something and so on.

I was first introduced to 'Learning Styles' as a concept in a business environment in the late 70s/early 80s.

The current dogma of assertion around the lack of scientific evidence for the existence of learning styles seems to be predicated on the more general interpretation that “learning styles” are fixed and that the approach somehow suggests that individuals learn in one specific way.

I have to say that this more recent interpretation was never suggested to me when I was first introduced to the subject.

We were shown that learning styles were preferences, not absolutes and that, generally, people may well be more receptive to information in a combination of those preferences and which may change depending on the nature of the task, circumstances or the topic being learned / taught.

For example, when building flat pack furniture, I look closely at the picture, carefully read the instructions, take verbal advice from my Dad and sometimes even watch a YouTube Video... (And I still manage to get it wrong !)

If these are ways in which we all take in information at different times, as a coach or teacher why would you not therefore consider and make use of as many methods of delivery outlined (and any others you may think of) to engage people and/or to provoke or elicit a response or thought?

Whilst I have seen plenty of criticism even for the recognition of the phrase ‘Learning Styles’, I have, as yet, seen nothing that suggests we should not use different tools, strategies and approaches to engage learners and provide information or ideas - which surely, is the whole point.

I would prefer to call these communication methods, for that is what they are and the broad use of a variety or combination of the approaches will hopefully appeal to more people than just one type of delivery.

My personal perception of communication methods recognises verbal, non-verbal, written, formal or informal and face to face approaches, which so far as I can see would also fit the visual, auditory, reading and kinaesthetic ‘styles’ mentioned in the now infamous ‘Learning Styles’

I would also suggest some caution when relying on current scientific evidence - when my parents went to school in the 1930s and 40s, science text books they used stated that the smallest item of matter was the atom - and you couldn't split an atom... within 10 years scientists had developed the atom bomb.

Learning Styles, in my opinion, merely refer to different and sometimes preferred ways of taking in information... and should be regarded as such. 
I believe that we really need to challenge people who promote or choose to interpret the idea that these are absolute, isolated 'styles' which don’t exist potentially, therefore, undermining the concept and usefulness of providing information in a variety of ways to make it as accessible as possible. 

Feel free to comment

Monday, 25 May 2015

KNOCKOUT CUPS & THE EUROPA LEAGUE – CHALLENGES OR PROBLEMS?


Over recent years it seems to have become fashionable to criticise, demean and ridicule certain football competitions, especially those of the League Cup and the Europa League.
Critics, who include pundits, journalists, fans and even some professionals cite the ‘meaningless’ nature of the competitions and the drain they place on clubs’ resources and the strain they place on the clubs’ assets, namely, the players and coaching staff, especially, as the main reasons to decry their existence and purpose.
OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES NOT PROBLEMS 

Many people recognise that, for example, in the Premier League, there are, effectively, three ‘leagues within a league’ in terms of striving to become league champions, to qualify for The Champions League, to win The FA Cup, to finish safely in mid table and those attempting to hang on to their Premier League status.
 

Each of these represents a series of goals and targets for which each club has to plan a strategy, goals and targets and work hard to achieve.
 

“STRETCH” GOALS 

Now, it would seem to me that, for example, Newcastle United’s aspirations, currently, will be somewhat different from those of Arsenal or Manchester United.
 

So, how do they make the leap from Premier League relegation battle to Champions League qualification?

I am sure most people will be familiar with the concept of ‘stretch’ goals – common in business where strategy will determine how to improve the standing, perception, profitability and service levels of the organisation.
 

A business may well be high profile and profitable but the good ones will always have ‘stretch’ goals – those smaller, achievable steps which will enable their continuing evolution and forward progress to keep ahead of the competition
 

If businesses stand still, they stagnate and get overtaken. Football is no different. If you aren’t innovating, striving for the next level, you will soon be overtaken. Perhaps one of the main challenges is that each club (business) has chosen to compete in exactly the same market as 19 immediate competitors.
 

HARD WORK AND A DRAIN ON RESOURCES 

So, striving to compete and reach the final of, or even win, The League Cup, for example, will surely test a club’s desire, will, resources and imagination, if they are also simultaneously trying to hang on to Premier League status.
 

Qualification for the Europa League is not even seen as a double-edged sword, more a Sword of Damocles hovering over the neck of those unfortunate enough to have inadvertently achieved the league placement required, or, possibly, to have carelessly failed to avoid qualification, intentionally.
 

The Europa League places increased pressure on the whole of the playing and coaching staff. It reduces preparation and recovery time and therefore increases pressure on analysis and preparation for the ‘extra’ matches.
 

However, striving to reach ‘the next level’ is SUPPOSED to be difficult. It’s meant to be a drain; it’s expected that you will find it a struggle. But planning and embracing stretch goals is a way to make the next step. Perceiving the increased pressure as a challenge to be achieved to drive the club ever forward is what good businesses do.
 

PROFILE 

Winning a Cup or achieving qualification for the Europa League are ways to increase your profile, certainly in the national and European context but also, perhaps, globally, if promoted and marketed correctly and appropriately.

What can that increased profile bring? Certainly, increased coverage which, in turn, brings marketing opportunities for business partners and sponsors.
 

Raising the club’s profile potentially increases the scope of new recruits who can be attracted to the business, coaching and playing staff. Good people want to work for good, progressive companies who can help them achieve their ambitions through personal and professional development.
 

Improving the quality of club staff should, in turn, affect the improvement of the business and its progress. So, perhaps, achieving the final of a cup competition, whilst, this season, may provide a serious challenge to resources, next season, will help promote greater, even if only stepped, improvements.
 

ENGAGEMENT AND EXCITEMENT 

For the club’s supporters and fans it provides the opportunity to see, at first hand, new teams with exciting players that they are otherwise possibly only likely to see on TV. It establishes the club as forward thinking and progressive, determined to bring the best level of entertainment to its paying ‘customers’.
 

INCOME 

As mentioned above, increasing the profile can bring increased business opportunities and income, note merely through sponsors and official partners but through merchandising, ticketing, concession sales, TV payments and so on.
 


Mark Hughes, current manager at Stoke City, seems to have similar views:

 

I have held these views for some time and was prompted to actually get around to writing this latest blog post on reading Mark Hughes’ comments.
 

So, the League Cup and the Europa League; Challenges or Problems ?