A Fall in Review

I’ve been in school for a lot of years now.  Just about fifteen, to be precise.  And through these fifteen years of learning, I’ve sort of developed this theory on teaching.  And here it is.

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers.  I’m comfortable with making the assumption, then, that I’ve never once had a bad teacher through my education and I think this way because I further assume that, if a teacher was bad, then the school districts wouldn’t be writing a contract to them in the first place.

So all of my teachers over the past fifteen years have been good teachers.  But through these fifteen years, I can name only about four to five of which were particularly memorable.  And when I say memorable, I don’t mean just the memory of school; I am taking about memorable outside of school, too.  In no way were these years consecutive, either.  But then I’m struck with trying to understand why exactly some years were more memorable than others if all of my teachers were generally good teachers?  And I believe I can answer this question by focusing particularly on teaching style.

With today’s technology (and whatnot), we have the ability to understand that human brains are divided by left and right sided lobes.  Generally speaking, it’s been decided that left brained people are mathematical and textual in their learning style.  Therefore, right brained learners benefit from the more imaginative and creative methods of information intake.

A diagram of the left and right sides of the brain.The way people taught when I was growing up was very traditional, in that A+B=C and all things good come from text or reading.  And this teaching style fit one type of learner: the left brain learner.  And sure, the majority of the population was and still are left brain learners, but what about us right brainers?  How do we get to learn?  Are we, then, deprived of equal education if our teachers are teaching us in ways that are hard for us to learn?

I remember five years of my childhood.  Just five years and the rest are a bit of a blur.  And I think I know why.  I think this is because the teachers who taught me during those five years were teachers who weren’t just good, they were innovative.  I believe that these five teachers realized that there isn’t just one method to learning, and thus, to teaching.  There are many.  And the teachers who taught to the right side of the brain just really spoke to me.  And then I would learn and my memory became so much more vivid, in school and out.

In college, I was finally granted the freedom to teach myself to learn.  I used methods of self guided learning that were adapted to my personal style and through doing so, I have really started to like learning.  But the most learning I have done throughout my entire school career has been this past semester.  And, as well, I think I can tell you why.

I think I learn really well through writing.  I used to hate writing.  It took time and effort and I used to think that I would get just as much out of writing as I did speaking.  And speaking was just a lot faster, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t really doing anything for me.

I’ve discovered myself as a learner this semester through writing.  And this has been the most impactful semester of my college career, simply because I’ve been asked to write so much.  So that’s what I’ll keep doing then, because clearly it helps me do my job: to be a student.

Therefore, what I’ve learned most about myself as a writer this semester is that, well, I learn really well when I write.  And this is reflected in my academic arguments.  While I am actually learning what I am writing about, my arguments become much more logical and thus, have more flow.  And from the first essay that I wrote this semester to the last shows all of this progression.

SO yes.  I’ve taken forward steps in my writing this semester.  And thank goodness for this because after all of these essays, I’d be pretty bummed if I didn’t show any improvement.

Caroline Petersen

Caroline is a contributing writer to the Sweetland Minor in Writing Blog. She is an architect in training and spends a lot of her time sipping on cappuccinos and discussing elements of malfunctioning building features. She is a city girl who spent her elementary summers in the middle of Iowa at her aunt and uncles farm. She is a woman of many (unusual) facets that are traditionally fairly useless.

2 thoughts to “A Fall in Review”

  1. Caroline, the points you bring up about the presence of multiple learning styles is very important for both teachers and students to recognize and embrace. I can remember back in k-12 when teachers would survey the class on preferred learning styles, and I struggled to answer this question for a very long time. I never really embraced any particular style and took it as my own. However, my first two years of college finally provided me the opportunity to learn my way, as opposed to the way of the teacher, and I have found I am very left-brained in my studying. I have also found that I can best harness my left-brain ways through writing, similar to what you stated above. The fact that we differ in “brain-sidedness” yet both learn best through writing shows just how powerful and holistic writing really is.

  2. It’s great that you’re pleased with the writing you’ve done this semester, because it seems that you certainly have accomplished a lot!
    It’s interesting that you bring up left v right learning styles. I think for a while, I’ve associated the act of writing more with the “left side”. However, learning through all of these various types of writing possibilities this semester I’m not so positive in that assertion any more. Writing seems inherently a creative process, and thinking this out now while I write this, I’m not sure why I was so firmly attaching it to the left. Huh.

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