Hi, SEers! Mae here on a cold February day. If you happen to live in the southern hemisphere and are enjoying beautiful temperate weather, please bottle some and send it up north! Winter doldrums aside, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at learning. Bear with me as I make the loop from point A to point B, because there’s a small hike in between.
Starting with Point A
For the last few years, I have—on and off—been trying to learn Spanish. Fortunately, there are numerous apps and products to help with language learning, and lately I’ve buckled down. One of the programs I looked into favors speaking Spanish words before learning to write them.
Think about it—when you were a baby, you formed words by mimicking what you heard. You learned to speak before you learned to write. And, herein, lies a problem for me, because it made me realize what kind of learner I am.
There are roughly eight styles of learning, but I’m only going to focus on four as they compose the core group. See if you recognize yourself in one of these.
Visual learners like to see and observe. They do well with pictures, diagrams, maps, and printouts. They can easily visualize plans and outcomes and are also usually note takers.
If you’re an auditory learner, you like listening to lectures and participating in group discussions. You might also repeat information out loud in order to better absorb it.
You like to read and write down what you’ve learned. You have a small overlap with visual learning, but respond best to text rather than audio or visual prompts.
Kinesthetic learners are hands-on, and learn best by doing. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you do well in role-playing situations or learning a project by actively working through it.
Whatever your style of learning, each of us does best when engaged in our preferred style.
Turns out I am a reading/writing learner. I can’t resist writing things down, taking copious amounts of notes and reviewing what I’ve written. I’ve known for quite some time I learn best and retain what I’ve learned when I write it down—but I didn’t realize that would keep me from learning Spanish through a mimic method (fortunately, I knew well enough not to spend the money).
None of the apps I use are designed for note taking, but—surprise!—I do it anyway. I have a three-ring binder devoted solely to my scribblings for learning Spanish. Who the heck else does this from an app?
Arriving at Point B
It made me realize I do the same thing when I’m researching a novel. For every book I’ve researched, I have a separate notebook devoted to what I’ve learned. I’m going to use my Point Pleasant series as an example. It wasn’t enough to read numerous books about the Mothman, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, UFOs and Men in Black. Or watch numerous documentaries and consume a plethora of articles and blog posts. And let’s not forget chatting to people who experienced or remembered some of these events.
I had to write it all down.
I have three notebooks, one for each novel in my Point Pleasant series. The middle is the thickest, but all three have pages upon pages of handwritten notes. Why? Because when I wrote it down, I was better able to retain the information.
I did the same thing while researching 19th Century spiritualism and sham mediums for Cusp of Night. That, too, has its own notebook loaded with scribblings from numerous books and articles I’ve read.
And—ready for this?—typing notes doesn’t work. There is something about handwriting that reinforces learning for me. I wonder if it goes back to grade school.
Whether I’m learning a new computer program, a social media platform, researching a novel or even the best way to approach an agent, anything of value has to be written down. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction devoted to various subjects that interest me, but have retained only a fraction of what I learned. Why? Because I didn’t write it down. Compare that to Point Pleasant and Cusp, and there is enough in my head to give lectures!
Now it’s your turn. Tell me what kind of learner you are. Can you share an example of how you’ve applied it? How that style of learning relates to your writing?
Like me, do you find all of this endlessly fascinating? Let’s chat!
Ready, set, go!