It’s Like Riding a Bike! How to Apply Your Learning Style Effectively

learning“It’s like riding a bike!”  A common phrase we hear now that tells us how easy it is to learn and retain a skill.  A child, however, could easily disagree with this statement and for good reason; learning how to ride a bike on two wheels is a challenge!  Some of you are probably thinking back to when you first learned how to ride a bike – GREAT because that is exactly what I want you to do.

For me, I started with a tricycle followed by training wheels before I took the final step to two wheels.  My dad was responsible for teaching me and thinking back now to the way I learned how to ride a bike is very similar, almost exactly how I learn new skills today.

When I was on two wheels for the first time my dad held the handlebar a couple times and slowly walked with me as I peddled so I could get the feel of how it works – I was terrified and excited all at the same time.  Then we started to speed up and I peddled as hard as I could and the next thing I knew I was alone.  When I realized it was just me and the bike I was so excited that I forgot how to stop and, like every other child, fell off the bike.  When I looked back, wanting to blame someone for my fall, I just saw my dad walking towards me and laughing.  Not a mean “ha ha you fell down” laugh but a “you’ll be okay everyone falls their first time” kind of laugh.  And right away he just picked me up and put me back on the bike and we did the same thing again and again until I figured out.

Now, there are three main types of learning: Visual (see), Auditory (hear) and Kinesthetic (hands-on).  I wish I could say I was a brilliant child who figured this out early on but sadly it wasn’t until college when I realized I was a kinesthetic (hands-on) learner.  Sitting through lecture after lecture was a struggle and I quickly realized I would never graduate if I didn’t make some changes.  I had friends that never took a single note and passed every exam while I not only took notes, but re-wrote them before the test to better grasp the material.  When I was going through training at DAVIS I was asked (thankfully) how I learn best and my immediate response was “hands-on – if I don’t see it or try it I won’t get it”.

Some can simply watch and learn (Visual) while others just need to listen (auditory) and they will understand.  My dad could have gotten on the bike himself or sat me down and explained how the bike works and maybe I would have figured it out from there, we will never know.  What I do know is how I learn and what I need to do to keep up.

The next time you are heading to a training, webinar, or class think about how you learn best and apply it.  If you are visual make sure you are focused and attentive to what is being shown.  If you are auditory be sure you are actively listening.   Finally, if you are hands-on bring a good pen and a notebook!

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