And, yep, at this point they are considered to be a myth, or if not a myth, at least ineffective. I believe the study published in 2010 by Pashler is a metanalysis (statistically looking at all the studies examining learning styles) and they found that matching teaching styles and learning styles had absolutely no effect on learning. We use our whole brain when we learn, and many times children have to use their entire brain in order to effienciently take in the information- when we learn to read we are connecting sounds in our environment and words on a page- we can't just teach kids to read through a visual method.
I'm not explaining the research behind it well, and to be honest, I haven't personally read any of the research studies on this. But I've heard it presented a lot, both here, and in almost everyone of my master's classes. Of course, in the school system itself we rarely hear anything about research saying something doesn't work, especially if it is something the school system spent a lot of money to teach us about ten years ago. So I don't think many teachers are actually aware of the new research.
Personally, I don't believe the learning style method put us backward in education. I think it actally moved us forward. It gave (what we thought was scientific evidence) behind why we should spend more time looking at our student's needs as teachers than simply delivering the information. It allowed us to move from being teacher-led classrooms to student-driven classrooms, and when we teach to the kids in front of us and not to a text book we tend to get better results. Plus, it encourages teachers to repeat their information over and over again in each different way, and repetition helps children learn. As does presenting the same information in new ways because you can make connections to the world around you. So I personally think there is a lot of good that came out of this movement, but the reality shows that teaching to learning styles doesn't actually improve learning. We don't need to label our kids as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. In fact, we probably shouldn't do that anymore.
However, including kinesthetic activities in the classroom isn't a bad thing either. While the research shows that Brain Gym is a complete myth (yes, another method that's been totally disproved but no one tells us about in the school system itself) but actually getting kids up and moving is good for them. Paul Howard-Jones, one of the speakers yesterday, and an author of one of my neuroscience education textbooks, talked about studies that show simply having children run short sprints improved their attention and learning in the classroom. Which makes me frustrated that my kiddos have recess at the end of the day, but what can you do. We'll just sing a lot to get them up and moving.
Omega-3s are also a myth- what really improves children's learning? Eating breakfast. That's where the omega-3 myth developed (according to Howard-Jones, the speaker yesterday).
And now I actually need to get ready for the last day of the conference. Yesterday afternoon I took away so much great information on early childhood and home-school connection research- so much more to say about all of this!