Friday, November 26, 2010

A verbal learner

In reading Neil Cole's book Organic Leadership, he has a section on different styles of learning (pp. 236-239). He believes there are four styles: Visual learners, Audio learners, Kinetic learners, and Verbal learners. I would have thought I learned best by reading and contemplating, but according to his definitions I think I am perhaps a verbal leaner. This is what he says of Verbal Learners...
There are a few people who learn by saying something out loud. Many include this under the audio learning category, and it may well be that these learners are in that category. Personally, I find verbal learners unique and fascinating. They must conceptualize the idea in their mind first by articulating it in their own words, but then also by trying to counter the idea. We may be tempted to say this person learns through the "tongue gate" but it is actually the "mental processing gate."

Toying with the concept deepens the verbal learner's understanding. When these learners retell the concept in their own language, they are learning at a deeper level. It is not always enjoyable to mentor these people because they come across as argumentative on just about everything that is important. The reality is that they are simply processing the lesson as best they can by internalizing it verbally. Just because they take the opposite point of view doesn't mean that they are against what is being said; it means they are trying to understand it the best they can.

In the early days of CMA we had a team member who was this kind of learner. He is one of my closest friends and we shared an office space early on in our ministry. Because I knew that he was a verbal learner, if was fun to see him process information. For those who didn't know what was going on, it could be a nightmare. I was drawing pictures and Chris was arguing every point. Our voices would rise to higher decibels with each level of understanding. Anyone in the room who did not know us thought we were fighting. We were not fighting; we were learning. In fact, our love for each other and bond are stronger for having walked together through this process...

That describes me almost exactly. I know there are people that I rub the wrong way, or who think I argue too much, or they don't like how I get louder when I talk about certain things. What they don't know is that I'm not getting upset; I'm getting EXCITED. Unfortunately there are only a few people that I can have good discussions with in these ways. Certainly Jane is one; and Tom is probably another. Sometimes it can be quite frustrating though, when I sense that I'm not able to learn this way. Although I completely understand how frustrating it can be for others who don't learn this way to be around people like me. But it helped me to see this written down; and it helps to be reminded that not everyone is like me, so I need to try to help others be able to learn in their style too.

Peace out; and in.