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The education system discriminates against auditory learners.

Whether it's reading, taking notes, homework, quizzes, or tests, virtually everything we do in school is primarily visual. Visual learners clearly have an unfair advantage over auditory [and tactile] learners.

A couple years ago, I went to a psychologist to be tested for ADHD, due to parental pressure because I was having a lot of trouble focusing in school. While I was there, I performed numerous cognitive tests. The results: my auditory processing was in the 98th percentile, while my visual processing was actually below average! This stunned me. I had an epiphany-like moment. The inability to focus wasn't the problem, it was merely a side-effect. The fact the education system is so geared towards visual learners was the true problem!

I believe we should reform the education system to be more flexible, and therefore more supportive of auditory/tactile learners. In fact, I believe this would drastically cut down new cases of ADD and ADHD, considering many children are misdiagnosed with these disorders simply because they are poor visual learners.

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    Apr 22 2011: Hi Austin! In the short term you are not going to be able to change the school system in the short time you will be there. All that leaves is adapting your skills sets so that you can prosper in the midst of it. If you are an exceptional auditiory learner. Look down at your page rather than at the teacher and take notes as s/he speaks. That will put you ahead of the game. Try to get the books for literature courses on CDs at the library so that you can listen to the books rather than read them. See if your teachers are open to you doing your reports in innovative ways such as: a radio broadcast of your history assignment imitating the style of the era in question. I am sure that you will come up with many more interesting ways to use your auditory talents and excell.
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      Apr 26 2011: Building on Debra's idea, have you tried using a text-to-speech converter program to make reading easier? I know this won't be applicable to most textbooks, but many great pieces of literature are available as e-books which can be listened to this way. One of my students has a Kindle, which has quite excellent text-to-speech capability, and he uses it to listen to certain readings I assign in class (all of my teaching documents are in electronic form). This same student commutes a long way between home and school, and listens to his Kindle while driving, like some people listen to talk radio.

      Something else to consider is the plasticity of the human brain and our ability to adapt. You're a young person, so it's good to keep in mind that just because you are presently "wired for sound" does not mean you will always be lower-than-average at visual processing. As a teacher, I constantly counsel young students who tell me they "just can't learn in a certain way" and they always end up exceeding their self-expectations. Leverage your excellent auditory powers as a learning tool, but don't think this cognitive bias means you cannot learn well any other way!
      • Apr 26 2011: Very good advice, thank you!
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    Sky F

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    Apr 21 2011: "everything we do in school is primarily visual"
    Big claim, I disagree. Unless we're going to highschool on the internet, a lot of school tends to be auditory.

    Your examples for school being 'primarily visual' are "reading, taking notes, homework, quizzes, or tests," The only thing that would make the list as "Visual Learning" would be reading. Taking notes requires sight, but odds are you're listening to a teacher talk. If you're not listening, and it's just reading that you're doing, then that's just reading again... homework, same thing. Quizzes and tests are evaluations, not teaching materials.

    Sounds like reading just isn't your thing, which is unfortunate and that is all. No reason for reform. If the education system is to prepare us for our life as adults, then we should practice reading...

    Also, you're completely oversimplifying the cause of the misdiagnosing of ADD/ADHD, if this proposition even really is a cause at all. There are likely many.

    I'm an auditory learner as well. The real solution is finding what learning style works for you. For me, I read with a group and we talk about what we just read. What ends up sticking my mind is not the text, but the conversation. That's how I study. Voila.
    • Apr 21 2011: I agree with your last paragraph. I am the same way, I need to say most of what I read aloud for it to really sink in.

      How am I oversimplifying the cause of misdiagnosing ADD/ADHD? Almost all tests, quizzes, and homework is visually geared. and kids usually don't like doing things that they struggle with, especially for extended periods of time. So, many kids who struggle with visual processing are misdiagnosed as having an attention/focusing problem.

      So, I guess I shouldn't say the education system "discriminates against auditory learners." Thanks for the reply.
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        Sky F

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        Apr 21 2011: Oversimplification of causal relationships means that you are attributing the cause of one thing to one very specific thing, when in reality there are likely many more substantial causes. For example: boredom. Crappy healthcare providers. Hell, even kids wanting an adderal prescription. Restless parents. Etc.
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    Apr 22 2011: No nation-wide system is going to cater for everyone. How can it with current practice and structure?

    When all they serve at the table is fried food, you have got to take responsibility for getting yourself something healthy in your diet.

    No ministry of education will prevent all those children "slipping through the cracks". It's like trying to prevent car crashes by adding another regulation. To solve that one, you would have to rethink the entire transport system. And ban cars..
    • Apr 23 2011: Fair enough. As Debra suggested, I think I just need to adapt my skills to better fit into the system.