The concept of lifelong learning has emerged more recently not just as a professional necessity but as an anti-ageing secret for our cognition. As we age, the importance of continuously expanding our knowledge and skills becomes increasingly evident. This commitment to lifelong learning not only enriches our lives but also plays a pivotal role in preserving and enhancing our cognitive health as we grow up, and grow older.
We're moving away from the notion that learning is reserved for our youth. Today, research underscores the remarkable benefits of ongoing education for individuals of all ages. Embracing lifelong learning can stave off cognitive decline, sharpen mental abilities, and promote healthier brain ageing. Consider it a vital investment in our future selves.
But the path to lifelong learning is not one-size-fits-all. We each have a unique learning style, which are individualised preferences and approaches to acquiring and processing information. Whether you're a visual learner who thrives on infographics and diagrams, an auditory learner who revels in the spoken word, or a kinaesthetic learner who craves hands-on experiences, knowing how you best absorb information is the first step toward tailored, effective learning as adults - as kids our spongey brains absorb as much as they can however they can.
Understanding our own learning style as adults can significantly enhance our learning experience. There are 3 prominent learning styles, and you may find that you have a combination of these styles or a dominant preference. These are:
Characteristics: Visual learners learn best through images, charts, graphs, and visual aids. They often have a strong ability to visualise information.
Strategies: Use diagrams, mind maps, videos, and infographics. Colour coding and highlighting can also be effective study techniques. Taking detailed notes during lectures or while reading can help reinforce learning.
Characteristics: Auditory learners prefer verbal communication and learn best through listening. They often have a strong ability to remember spoken information.
Strategies: Attend lectures, discussions, or podcasts. Engage in group discussions or study groups where you can talk about the material. Recording and listening to your own voice summarising key points can also be helpful.
Kinaesthetic Learners (Tactile Learners):
Characteristics: Kinaesthetic learners learn best through hands-on experiences and physical activities. They often need to engage with material in a practical way.
Strategies: Try to find ways to physically interact with the subject matter. This could involve experiments, simulations, or role-playing. Creating flashcards, using interactive learning tools, and physically moving while studying (like pacing or using a standing desk) can also be beneficial.
But which learner are you?
To understand your own learning style as an adult, you can follow these steps:
Reflect on Past Learning Experiences: Think about how you've learned effectively in the past. Did you find that you remembered information better when you saw it, heard it, or did something related to it?
Take Learning Style Inventories: There are various online quizzes and assessments designed to identify your learning style preferences. While these assessments aren't definitive, they can provide insights. Some examples include the VARK questionnaire and the Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model.
Observe Your Study Habits: Pay attention to how you naturally approach learning. Do you tend to take a lot of notes? Do you prefer to listen to podcasts or watch videos? Do you like to experiment with hands-on activities?
Experiment: Don't feel restricted to one style. Experiment with different techniques and resources to see what works best for you. Over time, you may find that different subjects or situations call for different learning styles, and your style may change as you do over the years.
Seek Feedback: Ask for feedback from peers or mentors who have observed your learning style. They might provide valuable insights. Speak to line managers at work, colleagues, old teachers, even your parents about what you were like around school work when you were younger (they might remember slightly differently to you).
It's important to note that learning styles are not rigid categories, and people often have a mix of preferences. Additionally, our learning style can evolve over time, so it's important to remain open to different approaches and adapt as needed. The goal is to optimise our learning process based on what works best for us as an adult learner - not force ourselves into learning something we don't really care for or to know.