the deathless meme of learning styles

to Michael Weiss's question re: the death of learning styles, palisadesk has this to say:
No, it's far from done. The critique in Psychology Today may mean that some people are wising up, but the meme is deeply entrenched (along with a lot of other mystical ideas about teaching and learning) in K-8 certainly, and perhaps far beyond.

We continue to have workshops and mandatory PD on how to teach to different "learning styles" (fits in well with "differentiation," you see). And since most of the curriculum people seem unaware of research in psychology or cognitive science, even though the whole idea of learning styles and "aptitude-treatment interaction" has been debunked for decades, articles in jounals are not going to affect prevailing opinion.

My district, and others that I know of, requires teachers to identify students' "learning styles" when developing lesson plans, unit plans, intervention plans, or referring student for assessment. Of course there is no real data to support this stereotyping of students -- typically, a student is labeled a "kinesthetic learner" because s/he is out of seat a lot, or likes to play with Lego. "Interpersonal learners" are so identified because they enjoy chatting with their friends, but not on the basis that this socializing actually improves their learning outcomes (in fact the opposite is more usually the case).

I notice that our psychologists, most of whom have Ph.D.'s and know their stuff, are very careful to avoid falling into the "learning styles trap, and will pointedly say that they do not measure this because it is not scientific and has no reliably quantifiable metric. However, their lack of enthusiasm fails to slow down the train. Our IEP forms have a section for "learning style." Needless to say there is no data-based information to enter there.

The absence of evidence is nothing new. Steven Stahl wrote a good article on the topic for American Educator almost 15 years ago, and it made no difference.

The meme has a life of its own, like a virus, and will be hard to dislodge.
Hegemony in action.

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