One of the great difficulties with education is that we attempt to fit everyone into the same box. It is generally accepted that this does not happen but how else can we effectively teach the masses? Well, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all that is Irish this is in fact the first mistake when thinking about teaching. If we instead focus on the learners, the actual students and look at the world from their perspective we may begin to not only accommodate everybody but have them reach their full potential. Most of all, even experience these people being happy and enjoying education.
So, if we take the learning nation of Ireland, what are we really like here? We are a country stockpiled with sociable chatterboxes and have a huge number of successful athletics when you think about the size of this land. We make an impact wherever we go and we are also very generous philanthropically for the size of Ireland. We as a race contribute hugely to global charities, peace keeping forces and volunteer work. We are hugely proud of anything remotely Irish.
So, in simple terms that makes us auditory and kinesthetic learners that need huge amounts of encouragement and praise. We really care about what everyone else thinks of us. So like most other parts of the world we are a largely extrovert society. We need to work with others in social settings and we are very social beings.
The hugely interesting fact about auditory learners is that they do not need to just listen, they need to talk as well. We all know how much we Irish love to speak. The idea of us starting school at five and learning to be quiet in a classroom situation is just outright ridiculous. We must admit that we work our way through so much in Ireland by gossiping. The information overload taxi driver, the restroom queue gossip or the local store conversation. It makes us better able to cope with the legendary Irish rainy weather if nothing else.
One of the real difficulties with being an auditory learner (besides just being in trouble in class for talking all of the time) is the rambling way we work, there is no structure. This is the most common difficulty that many of our students have, especially all the super talkative kinesthetic boys who are brilliant on the sports field but feel like trash at everything else in school. They simply have no idea how to structure an answer or to focus their thoughts onto the page at hand.
Sure, for the Irish it is perfectly alright and acceptable to write exactly the way you talk too. The best way to work with auditory kinesthetic learners is through role play. This is sociable group work that allows us to talk out scenarios. We get to put ourselves in the situation and we all do great in this part of oral school examinations. We are a country filled with bucket loads of generationally provided and divided political views. It is important for us to get to talk about these at length on a regular basis.
Students almost fall off of their chairs with shock when we ask them what they think or have a personal opinion on, but it is so much easier to write about what you feel especially when this is what matters to you when you are kinesthetic. Normally boys just get to run this out of their systems on the sports field rather than working through it in english or history class.
It is equally vital to allow us Irish to talk about everything that matters to us in our own unique way. The Irish have a great gift of the gab, the wit that has a name for every object, landmark and sculpture. We talk about creativity and innovation, this is a wonderful example of innovation with words. We can express any situation as a joke. We have always been gifted story tellers and can spin any yarn.
We are also hugely competitive, hence our many sporting heroes, the mark we leave whatever we set our minds to. Competition is such a great way to inject energy into any learning environment too.
There is a pride deeply engrained in the Irish and as a result we can never cope with being made a fool of in public. We may try to joke our way out of any situation but it hurts deeply. Everyone we have ever spoken to in this country has a school story where they lost face and they have never forgotten it. This is why we have to focus on the learners always, the real people we are helping to grow and develop. Everyone is different but we all fall into patterns of behavior that can be accommodated. You can’t just take an education model from one country to another and expect it to work, especially since the models are always developed for the teachers and governments not the students. There are very simple patterns and learning styles but you have to look for them and you have to use each nations strengths and values to achieve what is important for them, even the Irish. Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the island of saints and scholars.
Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly & Marie O’Riordan