Sunit Gajbhiye is currently the co-founder and Chief Business Officer at Financepeer. He is responsible for driving strategy and growth of the organization. Sunit brings an overall more than a decade of experience spanning product management, innovation in smartphone, business operations, sales and marketing. He also has a patent in the smartphone domain, through which he aims to impact global education with a mobile first strategy. Sunit is an alumnus of IIM Indore where he has specialized in General Management- Strategy and Marketing.
The famous Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore once said, “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time”. Even after many decades, this quote continues to be relevant. It is important for parents and the educational system to understand that every child is different and their developing needs to polish their learning, attention and grasping powers will be unique.
There are various teaching styles that we are aware of, to name a few- delegator, authoritative and demonstrator. Usually the success of a child is considered to be a reflection of the effectiveness and quality of the tutor or teacher who is imparting knowledge. Their teaching style is a crucial parameter in the consideration set of parents. However, how many of us focus on the child’s learning style? What this simply means is that, do we make an effort to understand the learning abilities, interests and challenges a child faces, which cannot be fully addressed by a cookie-cutter selection of tutors? This question has become even more relevant due to the additional challenges posed by the pandemic.
In one of my interactions with a school teacher in the pre- pandemic era, we had discussed the various teaching styles academicians possess. During this discussion, the teacher shared an interesting observation that one of his student from the nursery section was hyper-active and difficult to manage. Unlike others, he was constantly distracted and was more interested in playing around with toys, running and jumping around the classroom. However, what was interesting to note is that this kid was the smartest of all and was quick to answer any questions posed by the teachers. This highlights an important and relevant matter that can sound unconventional but it is a fact, that every child has a different mechanism to grasp things. Just because they are more playful or less traditional in their learning approach, it does not mean that they are less attentive. Hence, the aim of the parents, teachers and the larger education system should be to find creative ways to mould and guide every child, in a style that is comfortable and fun for them.
This anecdote is crucial to break the mind-set that not only teachers, but children have different learning styles. Every child is unique in their own way and their learning style is influenced by many factors such as interpersonal skills, general interests, etc. Many parents observe that their children don’t like reading aloud or prefer drawing over writing however, most ignore these signs and rather confuse them for being challenges. These observations are key signs that will determine the learning pattern a child will be comfortable with. There are multiple studies that highlight three most dominant learning styles in children:
The Kinaesthetic Style:
Kinaesthetic learners use physical methods to grasp or register a particular piece of information. These learners have sharp hand-eye coordination and are inherently good at physical activities such as sports and dancing. They have a strong sense of stability, which makes them natural curious learners. Touch, feel or physical activities such as daily chores help them learn and they tend to use more hand gestures to explain concepts.
The Visual Style:
One of the most common and effective learning style is the visual style. Ancient scholars and philosophers used to follow this style of learning while reading books to enhance their knowledge. These kind of learners love art and tend to go beyond the usual in a photograph or an art form such as identifying symmetrical patterns, etc.
Visual learners also remember the minutest details of their childhood which is hard for many of us to remember. They have a sharp memory and can easily remember names, people and places which they have been visually exposed to.
The Auditory Style:
These learners use auditory tools to learn and gather information. Such learners are usually good listeners and enjoy listening to rhymes and recorded stories, and often show an aptitude for music as creating a tune or song naturally comes to them. Studies have proven that such learners tend to understand directions and instructions better when given orally than in a written form. Such learners also enjoy listening and recognizing animal sounds and enjoy the sound of rain and thunder. It has been observed that these learners have keen interest in learning new languages, songs and music from varied regions.
What edtech players should learn from this?
Over the past few years, the edtech sector has seen an uptick growth in India with players offering various courses and additional features. So much so, that the funding and investment outlook in the edtech sector has been the highest in India, as compared to other sectors. With tight competition and offerings from edtech players, gone are the days when basic learning services will be enough to entice parents to register their children. The entire space has evolved, become more specialized and dynamic, in order to keep up with the evolving needs of the consumers.
There is still a strong need for these platforms to adopt technologies and methods that personalize the digital learning experience basis a child’s learning style. Generic learning courses or cookie cutter format videos targeted at the masses will not be enough to solve the real purpose.
For Kinaesthetic learners for example, since they require hands-on practical experience to truly learn, edtech players should offer personalized content leveraging different textures, moulds, sizes and include role-plays in their curriculum. This will help these children to get a better understanding of the subject and will increase the chances of the students grasping the subject it better.
Since auditory learners rely on listening as their core strength, oral instructions and oral responses should be the prefer mode of communication instead of complicated written material. For these learners, edtech players need to deploy audio content such multiplication tables in a song format, to help the students develop interest in the subject. In an evolved educational system, we can aspire that oral examinations and viva will become the preferred mode of evaluation for these students instead of lengthy written answer sheets. This sounds far-fetched, but is definitely some food for thought, for the parents and edtech players to encourage children to learn better.
In conclusion, learning is a science that keeps evolving with a new batch of students and teachers. Hence, there is a constant need to fine-tune it to the needs of those imparting knowledge and those gaining it. This approach can help edtech players stay ahead of the game, and eventually become the preferred partner of choice for parents, in the learning journey of their children.