In our Stepping Stones newsletter, we’ve talked about the importance of engaging the different human centers to ensure a balanced development of the self. One way of doing this is by addressing the different learning modalities. In order to explore this topic, we talked with a member of our staff, Melissa Overbury-Howland, who was a high-school teacher in England prior to moving to the States.
Different research, including this BBC documentary which Melissa was a part of, has shown that we do not all learn in the same way; so there is tremendous value in understanding the different learning modalities. This is especially important when we want to make sure our children (or even ourselves) are learning in the best possible way.
There are 3 main learning modalities:
In BAMM, for example - an Integral Steps program that combines Biology, Art, Music, and Motion, children who learn about notes for the first time use the different modalities: for the kinesthetic/tactile, they march to the rhythm of the note, clapping as they feel the beat; for the auditory, they play the note and hear how it sounds; for the visual, they see the note on the music sheet in a specific color to further enhance memorization.
For adults, playing in a chamber music group is a great example of a multi-modal learning experience. You'll learn to watch the other group members and read their body language to know when to start playing together (Visual). You'll feel the music by swaying side to side, nodding your head, and moving your fingers and lips to play your instrument (Tactile/Kinesthetic). You'll read the music (Visual) and convert it to sound (Auditory), listening closely for the intonation and color of the note so you can blend together and play as a unified group.
In our examples, you may remember one experience better than the other, and that’s because that experience engaged directly with how you learn. For teachers, the different learning modalities mean that it is important to design classes like BAMM, in order to ensure everyone is learning. For non-teaching adults, it means we should be paying attention to how we or our children learn. You’ll notice when your child gravitates towards a specific learning modality because they will be noticeably actively engaged.
Active steps you can take to help address a range of learning modalities:
Although it’s already a month into 2022, we wish you a Happy New Year! At Integral Steps, we are thrilled to continue strengthening our community and working around an integrative education. What are you thrilled about this 2022?
Last year, we talked about the relationship between emotions and memory, emotions and attention, and the idea that real learning occurs through experience. In conversation about these ideas with Weronika Balewski, IS Instructor and Director of Development, a new fundamental element was brought up: the importance of the group to enhance positive emotions and learning experience in children or adults. Here is some of the takeaway from Weronika:
What does it mean to take into account your students’ emotions when planning a lesson?
- WB: Thinking about the emotional experience of students in a classroom means that I [as a teacher], have to think differently about my goals. The result is that, if students are engaged emotionally, they will really care about what they are learning and their attention will be put into the day’s lesson. For this, I have to come up with exercises and activities that will allow me to move the theory into experiences, and thus, emotions. What if we learn about different ways of grouping beats into meters by imitating how different animals jump? I definitely have to think of activities that the students will absolutely be thrilled about…
What is the importance of the group for an integrative musical education?
- WB: The group allows students to live the experience that music is created in community; music is a creative personal expression, it is a conversation and it is created in collaboration, in community. In a classroom, it is clear that once the imagination of some students begins to burst, others follow, and more and more ideas are created. Creativity ignites creativity… We want to perform and create music that is relevant for our community, so we must be connected to it, emotionally.
- WB: Another important aspect of the group is that it creates a safety net for each student to perceive and acknowledge their emotions. Often, not all the students will be in the same emotional state or energy level to participate in the class. However, seeing how others interact provides a baseline for them to understand how they are feeling (even if they cannot change it). As a group, we work towards not judging these different states, but integrate them. If some students are up and need to release that energy, then maybe we can all move to a fast beat, but if some students are low, then we could bring the whole class to a calmer way of expressing the topic of the day.
How do you feel the group has been an important aspect of your integrative educational experience? Let us know!