What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?
Our Standard 8 science teacher, Sister Mary Margaret, instilled such curiosity in her pupils that we could not help but learn. The visuals of her experiments will entertain me to the grave.
“Well now, would you look at that,” she invited as her habit hung in tatters around her neck. Another experiment gone awry. Sister Mary Margaret laughed loudest at the outcome of the experiment as she cast about the laboratory choosing a candidate to re-do the experiment.
“Alright, yes very amusing but so now, Evelyn, would you ever come out to the table and show the class how the experiment should turn out.”
No one bunked a Standard 8 science class especially not if it was in the laboratory. Her awe of everything that moved or had breath was infectious and she carried us along with humorous observations. Her’s was the only class where we didn’t hear the word ‘learning’ and we never heard a cross word. She held us in the palm of her hand and we soaked up everything she taught us in her unassuming and relaxed way. It was a toss up as to who was more surprised by the outcome of Sister’s experiments, her or the class. If Sister got the desired outcome first off there’d be so much foot-stomping, clapping and cheering other classes around the quadrangle stopped to see what the commotion was about.
Look and Learn magazines were a regular part of education and one of the few things in our home I didn’t have to earn. They arrived each Saturday. The illustrations and content and beautiful paper that held all kinds of fascinating history, science, art, astronomy and literature captured my thirst for knowledge and my imagination. I remember the cover of the first ever Look and Learn magazine (that’s it on the left – Prince of Wales then 1962 and Prince of Wales in the time of Oliver Cromwell). Inside was the story of Charles II and William Cromwell. The text wasn’t constrained solely by the facts and Charles II’s fight for his crown with Cromwell was tensely described as follows:
“Breathlessly he flung himself into a narrow, dark alley and hid in a shadowed doorway. The raucous shouts and stumbling footsteps of the Roundhead soldiers chasing him went past the entrance to the alley and faded away in the distance. Panting, he huddled himself against the crude wooden doorway and rested his unshaven face against the splintered oak. For the moment he was safe.”
They entertained me for hours and taught me to love history, Look and Learn fed the natural curiosity of a young child. My style of learning is first of all visual from Sister’s laboratory experiments to the fabulously glossy pages of Look and Learn. After all these years Sister’s words still ring in my ears and make me smile so my style is a meld of visual and auditory. I enjoy a good debate too, it provides the opportunity to give voice to opinions and immature thoughts that need developing and sharpening.
Classroom learning is exciting and the interaction of participants does buoy my learning, I like the friendly banter and repartee and if the lecturer knows their subject the debates that can take place do energise my learning. Small groups on the other hand fill me with dread and resentment. They do not suit my personality type that revels in detail, presentation and the yen to produce the best possible work.
Who was your special teacher at school or in life?