Back to School


Do you remember your first day of kindergarten? Mine was at Lone Star School, a tiny slice of heaven in the boonies of Oklahoma. To mark the occasion, I sported a very chic perm. In a onesie. The other kids, though, were nuts. As daunting as all those pint-sized, apple juice-jacked crazies were, I was smitten with the whole idea of cramming my brain with neat things for a few hours. Plus, snacks and crafts and activity centers? Um, yeah. I fell in love with school and haven’t recovered since.

One of my favorite things about being human is that we never stop learning. Gone might be the days of singing the months and counting to 100, but we’re still constantly assimilating new information into our minds. It’s fascinating to me that we all take in data differently.

Today’s topic is learning styles. If you’ve never encountered the concept, I’m hoping you walk away with a heap of compassion for yourself. “Of course I struggled in algebra! I’m a physical learner!” you might think (as you jog around your house). After figuring out how you are best suited to learn, you can make adjustments moving forward.

You are either a visual, social, physical, aural, verbal, solitary, or logical learner. (Turns out, I’m equally aural and solitary, so I’m usually found singing to myself. Which makes so much sense as I used songs to help with the required memorization of Titus 2 for a recent class I took. I can still rock that whole chapter as long as I’m allowed to bust out some Norah Jones.)

Here’s the test. It’s admittedly cluttered, but it’s the fullest online inventory I could find. And they include tips for each learning style, which is nice. If you’d rather not have to navigate the chaos, read this and try to identify yourself in it.

Everyone’s a student, but many of you are teachers too. Yes, parents and leaders count. When you get comfortable with the unique ways others around you learn, you can tailor your teaching styles to them. For example, my husband, being a preacher, might show a picture for the visual individuals at our church or have everyone turn to the person beside them and briefly discuss a specific topic for the social learners. (And all the solitary people shudder.) The possibilities of communication are endless. Including as many ways to learn as you can will keep things interesting and will strike a chord with everyone at least once. The next team meeting you lead might just be the coolest meeting in the history of your workplace!

We’re all created so intricately; it’s unfair to expect everyone to learn identically. If you’ve been trying to stuff yourself into a box of thinking the same way it seems like everyone else does, offer a little grace and try a different approach. It’s usually okay to ask for some time to think or to have someone sketch it out. Be creative in personalizing your education, whether formal or informal. Hate groups but need to talk through information? Enlist a tutor. Love books but loathe sitting still? Go on a reading ramble. Want to make a passage of Scripture come alive as a physical learner? Try a recipe from that culture/time period.

You could be enduring unnecessary stress trying to fit into another brain’s shape, pounding down anything that sticks out. If you’ve tried bullying your visual (or whatever) self into becoming an A+ student in lecture (or whatever) environments, it’s time to lose the bludgeon. Introduce a bit of kindness to make the way you’re intentionally wired feel safe enough to come out and play. You might be amazed at how much it has to offer. God created you the way He did for a reason, and He’d be tickled pink if you could enjoy His design as much as He does. May your self-compassion rise to meet your self-awareness as we move along in this adventure.

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