Getting to the Deep End

Written by Brandon Andrade

Two students studyingDo you remember when you first learned to swim? When they wanted to bring you to the deep end and take off your life jacket? Some people casually paddle with help from the instructor. Some are too scared and need to be held the whole time while they nervously kick around. When engaging with new content in life and the time comes to go into the deep end, it will look different from person to person. In the long run, all the kids in peewee swimming school learn to swim, although at the time the idea of the deep end might be terrifying. Would you say to a scared child, who is kicking and screaming for help when trying to swim, “I guess swimming just isn’t for you. Avoid water for the rest of your life and you’ll be fine.”? You’d never do that! So what about when a student barely passes high-school? “I guess education just isn’t for you. Just avoid all forms of learning and you will be fine.” You recognize right away how outrageous that is!

Just like with learning to swim, everybody learns differently. Some need to see how it’s done, some need to have it explained to them, some need to be held while they try and some need to be free to move around and try it themselves. The same thing is true with learning in the classroom. Some are visual learners and need to see pictures and illustrations to understand things better. Some are audible or aural learners – the need to hear lectures spoken to them and to speak out loud – often talking things through before they really understand it, and some learn better with music and rhythm. Some learn best from reading and writing – they need to either read the information or be given the time to write it out for themselves in order to process it and understand it. Some people learn kinesthetically; they learn best from really getting involved, from experiencing and experimenting; they need simulation or demonstration, and to get hands-on and see the subject in a more tangible way. These learning types are summed up in the acronym VARK (visual, audible/aural, read/write, kinesthetic). Although all of these are genuine forms of learning for all people, most people will lean towards one or two of these learning styles.

Did you notice how these categories of learning have nothing to do with your grade, your future career, or your income? University is a place to learn – a place to be discipled. The instructors and faculty at Tyndale University help students move towards the deep end, whether these students swim instinctively or kick and scream. Your learning style might have you doing things differently from how other people would do them, but your process of learning does not define what you learn. Nobody needs to know how well you did in peewee swimming school, it’s enough that you simply know how to swim. And so things might look different for you in school than they do for somebody else, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not achieving the same level of understanding.

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