While I was taking classes in curriculum design, we discussed at great length different learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
I remembered a series of highly successful training programs designed to address the three learning styles at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The audience for the training programs was junior high school students, and the purpose was to learn about works of art in the museum’s collection. I always thought that program was extremely innovative. It allowed the students to interact with the works of art in their own way.
Accelerated Learning originated with a theory called “suggestopedia,” developed by a Bulgarian educator named Georgi Lazanov. His methodology encouraged positive engagement with learning using a wide variety of techniques that included art and music.
The American developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner developed a theory of multiple intelligences and how intelligence relates to learning. He said that there were eight types of intelligence:
- Verbal-linguistic, spatial
In the traditional classroom the focus is on the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. Accelerated Learning attempts to change this imbalance by including activities that trigger the other intelligences, for example, Brain Gym®, games that involve movement, MindMapping® tools, songs and raps, and word cards.
The term “Accelerated Learning” was actually coined by a British educator, Colin Rose. He synthesized the work of Lazanov, Gardner, and other psychologists and educators. Accelerated Learning has evolved into a variety of techniques that that overcome negative attitudes about learning and involve participants in the learning process.
This is what Accelerated Learning includes:
- Whole Brain learning/teaching
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming
- Learning environment
- Learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
- Imaginative activities
- Chunking of information
- Objective setting
- Movement in learning
- Positive mental state
- The arts
- Multiple intelligences
- Emotional state
There is much talk about “push” versus “pull” in training circles―without any thought given to the fact that individuals learn in different ways. More attention needs to be paid to designing training that can be accessed according to the participant’s own learning style.
Accelerated Learning Techniques and Examples
In the training series at the Minneapolis Art Institute was a session on modern art, each student selected the group they wanted to be in. One group used stretchy colored fabric to create shapes with their bodies, another drew their own pictures based on what they saw, and a third participated in a facilitated discussion. Those who learned kinesthetically didn’t have to draw pictures. Those who liked to talk and listen didn’t have to make shapes with their bodies. The students directed their own learning.
Another example from the training series focused on the sculpture in a special gallery created especially for the blind. Some of the students used video cameras to understand the three-dimensionality of the sculptures, others were blindfolded and directed to identify sculptures according to specific criteria, and yet another group were involved in a Q and A session.
A final example involved American Art. Again there was a group for each type of learner. There was a group that listened to 19th century music performed using spoons, an autoharp, and fiddle. There was a group that touched the objects contained in a painted chest that contained a number of objects from that same period including an indigo dyed quilt, a flatiron, woven baskets, and a glazed ceramic jug. Finally, there was a group that created a city of the future from recycled materials.