Thursday, March 25, 2010

Of Learning and Humor

I was a teacher, but it wasn't until quite recently that I discovered that I was a visual learner. It might seem perplexing that a teacher wouldn't know that, but back when I went to teachers college, I don't even recall being presented with theories about learning styles. Perhaps I wasn't paying attention, but it would seem to me that it would have been taught in psych class, and since that was my favorite (in that year), I rather doubt that it was covered.

Once I had been made aware of them, I would have guessed that I was an auditory learner, and I would have thought that because I rather liked and learned from lectures back in university days. But I was wrong, for a test to ascertain learning styles revealed me to be a visual learner. At first, it didn't seem to square with my liking for the lecture method, but then I was led to understand that it was the professor and his face that I was focusing on and taking cues from. That actually made sense since I could do that because most of the courses that I took were in small classrooms, and I also sat near the front. I could also recall a few large lecture halls and realized that I hadn't done so very well in that sort of impersonal atmosphere where I as far removed from the prof and his or her expressions.

Here's another manifestation of visual learning. As I've mentioned previously I don't do well with names, but I am very good with faces. In my last year of teaching two female students from previous years visited me in my classroom and asked me to sign their yearbooks. Having witnessed me struggle with names in the past, they were somewhat concerned that I might not know who they were. In point of fact, whether I could recall their names that day or not, I knew them very well — exactly where they had sat and what kind of students they had been. I may have even known them better for themselves (as opposed to just names) than most teachers.

I began contemplating this topic upon reading my latest novel, Pigs in Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver. You see, I was all out of mysteries, so I was perusing Cuppa's bookcase, and she recommended this title. I took her word for it, and began to read it on the next day whilst Zach slept (mercifully, he usually sleeps well and long or I would have even less hair if that were possible). It wasn't long before I let out an "Aha! I've read this already." It wasn't the words, but when a certain picture (brought on by the words, of course) flashed into my head, I realized that I had visualized the scene before: someone falling down a hole of some sort by the Hoover Dam.

However, the whole topic brings another peculiarity to mind: that of humor. Why is it that I, a visual learner appreciate word-based humor (yes, I like puns), while Cuppa, the non-visual learner (who remembers books by their titles) loves visual humor. Yes, indeedy, she cracks right up at the sight of someone falling.

On Oscar night, for example, they played a time lapse of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin sleeping in the same bed. Apparently, it was quite funny to see their gyrations. I say that because Cuppa, Thesha, and SILly were all howling unrestrainedly. Meanwhile, I sat there serious and puzzled because I honestly didn't find it funny. At least not very funny. Not howling funny. Not splitting your sides funny. Maybe a brief little snicker funny. Hmm, maybe not even that much funny.

15 comments:

Ruth said...

I think Fleming's VARK model of learning came out in the late 1970's-80's so we would have not been introduced to the theory in university "so long ago". Some days I will laugh to tears at something that does not even make me grin on another day. I think I laugh more at jokes when tired or stressed.

Mary G said...

I too am a visual learner who never heard of the concept in teacher training. And, yeah, students' names were always a challenge.
Are you by any chance left handed? That would explain the verbal humour bit.

Anvilcloud said...

Nope: right-handed as can be and not very ambidextrous either.

anecdotes said...

I've been meaning to ask you this for quite sometime, but never remember until after I hit the publish comment button...Anvilcloud? How did that come to be your blog-name? I've been called Anvilhead before, but am trying to "visualize" a cloud and an anvil...would it still be able to float?
But, I digress...my philosophy of teaching was based on Howard Gardner's 8 Multiple Intelligences, which was my initial purpose of my glob. (I'm lysdexic.) It not only includes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning, but addresses 5 other types...There is a plethora of info out there on his theory and I absolutely loved using it in my classroom...so did my students !
Well, enough of that...have a great day !
Swampy

Anvilcloud said...

Swampy: Anvilcloud is based on some fun with my last name. One group of students actually called me Mr Stormcloud. Anyway, a thunder cloud is said to have an anvil head (top).

Mara said...

Don't get me started on names! The faces: easy and if those faces come with really difficult names I might remember that as well. Otherwise: no chance!

And as for the learning: As long as I am in a classroom learning off the teacher and/or students I can cram quite a bit in my head. Just books was never my forte and if it doesn't interest me I am hopeless.

anecdotes said...

Thank you for the explanation...and yes, we are of the anode/cathode types. Most people don't know what they are...They think anodes are things taken out when the tonsils come out.

Holly, the Old Western Gal said...

Aw, they push that "learning styles" stuff at the teacher prep programs now...got learning styles for everyone...just like they expanded the "gifted" realm so much that my extremely dumb dog Twinkie would qualify to be right smack in the gifted and talented class due to her excellence in chasing the ball...

KGMom said...

Another visual learner here...I realize this when I am asked to spell a word. I spell quite well, but almost have to write a word out before I can call out the spelling.
I emphasize the visual/oral aspect to my students, only to reinforce to them that there is not one way to learn, but several.
Speaking of--I loved Pigs in Heaven. For that matter, I love Barbara Kingsolver. You could get several more of her books--there is a sequel of sorts to Pigs in Heaven--The Bean Trees.
Oops, no--The Bean Trees is the prequel.

Amanda said...

I'm with Cuppa. People falling over and things like that make me laugh too!

fumblingforwords said...

Interesting. I'm also a visual learner, and though I've never really analyzed it, I'd say I'm the same as you in the humour department. I would chalk it up to (at least for me, and probably for you) being a visual learner with literary intelligence (from Gardner's "Seven Kinds of Smart").

By the way... I can't resist... isn't the Canadian spelling "humour"? :-)

Anvilcloud said...

You're absolutely right H, but I've decided to finally go with common sense (when I think of it). The 'our' ending is silly, and the 'or' one makes perfect sense. It's taken me a long time to get over this silly propensity of Canadian/British English, but now I've done it.

Lorna said...

I was going to write about how I hate myself for laughing at misfortune but instead i read this, and I'm gasping in shock and horror:

"It's taken me a long time to get over this silly propensity of Canadian/British English, but now I've done it."

How dishonouorable and unneighbourly of you, and you used to be my favourite!

Your anally-clenched friend, Lorna

Ginnie said...

I have always loved words so it came as a surprise to me to find how much I use visualization on my sobriety journey...for example I put a skull and cross-bones on anything alcoholic and it really works to remind me of what it would do to me...and to stay away from it !

jinksy said...

As long as your funnybone is working, it doesn't matter what sets it in motion! As for humour/humor - I'm such a crap typist anything might end up on the page, regardless of my intention....