Learning styles and preaching

Somebody reminded me the other day of Neil Fleming’s VARK model for categorizing different learning styles people have. VARK stands for:

  • V – visual – learn by watching, observing, seeing – think visual aids, charts, graphs, diagrams etc.
  • A – auditory – learn by listening – lectures, discussions, audio, speaking.
  • R – reading-writing preference – learn through written words (read or written) – books, articles etc.
  • K – kinesthetic – learn by doing – experiments, hands on, experience, touch and taste.

Now of course in reality many people (and teachers) are to some degree multi-modal – they use and enjoy all of the above to differing degrees, but most of us, whether we put ourselves in the position of learner or teacher, bias one or two of the above. For preachers you will probably bias your own learning style in your teaching style. Most preachers I know are A and R and the preaching reflects that.

The challenge is to consider all of the above and see if their are ways you can touch on each of them – not necessarily in every talk, but regularly using the different modalities to help different people. To add one more thing into the mix, a teacher I spoke to said that in modern pedagogy interaction is everything. Retention and application of learning shoots up massively where people are active, not passive, learners. Much of our preaching is a monologue. I’m currently experimenting with ways of hitting these different styles and generating some interaction. Here’s two examples: last week I put up a whiteboard and got some feedback on a question. This week I’m going to hand out some scent sticks (I’m doing something on ‘fragrant offering’) and get people to describe smells and how they make you feel. Hopefully the experience reinforces the learning (hopefully)!

So next time you prep, write down the side of the page V,A,R,K, and see how many you can employ, and if there are ways of having some kind of interaction.



2 Replies to “Learning styles and preaching”

  1. Hello, I would like to use your VARK graphic image on this web page in an upcoming education presentation. Do I have your permission to use the image? I will provide appropriate credit to you / your URL. Thanks so much in advance for your prompt response.

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