Instructional Strategies

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Enough has been written on instructional strategies, methods, modalities, and approaches to fill an entire library and then some. Theories abound on right- and left-brain learning, multiple intelligences, cognitive development, and practical lesson-planning, just to name a few variables in the realm of education. From this mix, is it really possible to emerge with a single coherent theory on how we learn? Probably not.

The reason learning strategies are so complex is that they exist at the crossroads or nature and nurture. Yes, we are a product of our parents' genetics, which may predispose us to learning in one particular fashion, but we are no less shaped by our experiences, which play an equally decisive role in how we perceive, store, code, and retrieve information. Any theory that adequately predicts how our brains manage these sundry tasks must give credence to both, which no textbook or class can rightly do.

Why Bother Learning Instructional Strategies?

If we're all far too individualistic to be reduced to an educational "type," why bother with learning strategies at all? The answer is that these strategies sketch out the parameters within which our educations are uniquely shaped. In other words, once we know what kind of learners we are, we are free to choose subjects and methods that complement these classifications. Or, to put it another way, once we understand our educational context, it's much easier to make sense of our educational content.

Another reason to value instructional strategies is that they can teach us volumes about ourselves. We may have spent our childhoods thinking we were "stupid" or "slow" for failing to grasp certain principles such as algebra or grammar. Later, however, we realize that had the information been presented in a different framework, we might have absorbed it far more readily. The moral then is that the sooner we identify the instructional strategies that ring truest for us, the better our chances of growing into lifelong learners.


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