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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 3, No. 3 - May/June 2011

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Learning Technologies

By Dorte Bladt

Harrison is a bright, bubbly and talkative six year old sitting in my chiropractic office. Sitting is actually not quite the right term; however he is in my office.

He is crawling under the table and chairs, examining the mechanics of the chiropractic bed, checking the contents of the drawers, testing the switches on the x-ray view box.... He is a very busy boy.

Mum explains that he has trouble at school; he can't sit still and has difficulty learning to read and write. "He gets into trouble because he is fiddling, moving and bouncing all the time and he is disturbing the other kids." She continues; "I don't understand it? I always thought he was very intelligent. He has built amazing things out of Lego from a very young age, he constructs things, can take things apart and put them properly back together again and he seems to concentrate really well at that. And now it has been suggested that he starts on medication to help him learn."

Does this sound familiar?

There are several possible causes for a child like Harrison to be like he is - busy and having trouble learning and concentrating at school.

  • He may suffer with interference to the way his nerves are communicating for learning. Small misalignments in the spine or skull can cause this, it can be helped gently, safely & naturally by a chiropractor trained in working with children
  • He may be reacting to certain foods, often chemicals like flavours, colours or preservatives, or lactose in milk products, or gluten in grains
  • He may not have developed proper neurological pathways due to movement & coordination difficulties
  • His brain may not be wired to receive & process the information the way it is being presented at school

For this last one I want you to think back to your experience with a hot iron as a child.

3 scenarios:

  • Your mother explained to you not to touch the iron, because it was very hot & you would burn yourself
  • You saw a sibling touch the iron & burn herself & you learnt not to do that
  • You went to the hot iron after having been told & even seen your sister burn herself, you very carefully & briefly touched it just with one finger, you burnt yourself & learnt not to do that again

These are 3 different styles of learning: Hearing, seeing and movement.
According to Howard Gardner there are actually 7 different learning technologies:

  • Verbal-Linguistic - The ability to use words & language
  • Logical-Mathematical - The capacity for inductive & deductive thinking & reasoning, as well as the use of numbers & the recognition of abstract patterns
  • Visual-Spatial - The ability to visualize objects & spatial dimensions, & create internal images & pictures
  • Body-Kinesthetic - The wisdom of the body & the ability to control physical motion
  • Musical-Rhythmic - The ability to recognize tonal patterns & sounds, as well as a sensitivity to rhythms & beats
  • Interpersonal - The capacity for person-to-person communications & relationships
  • Intrapersonal - The spiritual, inner states of being, self-reflection, & awareness*

The first 3 are the most commonly used in the class room. The other styles are equally important, but require a bit more planning from the teachers many of whom are absolute gems at this!

We all have a mix of all the learning styles, but tend to be stronger in 1 or 2 ways. However, learning through all the styles helps us develop all facets of our personality.

When my daughter was quite young she found maths very difficult. One of the ways we tried to help was by going through her homework with her. One afternoon, after many such homework sessions, I suddenly heard myself explaining to her about multiplication:

"Now listen very carefully while I explain this to you. Listen to my words and you will understand: You go to the shops to buy two ice-creams. Then you come home, but decide to go again and buy two more. How many ice-creams did you buy?"

Guess which type of learner I am? Auditory, I understand things when they are explained to me, which is why that is the way I chose to teach my daughter. The problem is that this is not her learning style at all. She is a visual/kinaesthetic learner. When I realised what I was doing I stopped and went to get a box of matches, and used them for the rest of our "lesson".

Harrison is very much a kinaesthetic learner. He learns by exploring, moving and touching. He was not trying to be disruptive in class, but to learn he had to move. When he was told to sit still and listen, his brain turned off. He also suffered misalignment in his neck. When we had gently helped his neck to move better and given him a blow-up cushion to sit and wriggle on when he was doing school work he started improving.

* From Howard Gardner, 'Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences'

More Information

Dorte Bladt
Doctor of Chiropractic
Family Chiropractic Charlestown
2 Lincoln St, Charlestown
P: 02 4942 4842


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