The second student I interviewed was Rowan Sewell and he is a first-year student at Bossier Parish Community College. During our interview I asked him what type of learner he was as well. He responded with, “I consider myself to be a reading/writing and kinesthetic learner.” I found this interesting because his learning styles combine the structure of a formal system and the physical aspect of informal. Despite this, he informed me that, “The traditional classroom setting makes me think of a strict environment that is not conducive to creativity or growth. This is in part because of my negative experience as a young child going through the school system with learning disabilities and anxiety disorders.” Rowan then went on to tell me that he struggles with dyslexia. Often, disabilities like this are considered through grade school, however, they are usually forgotten or abandoned by college. As a student myself, I can say throughout life young people are constantly being groomed for college, so I understand at this point we should no longer be coddled. Some may view the extra accommodations that dyslexic students need as a soft cushion to fall back on. However, being aware of one’s weaknesses does not make them weak, but strong for understanding the different and usually more difficult path they must take when compared to students who lack learning disabilities. By incorporating a more informal style of learning it welcomes creativity and makes for a more satisfying experience for not one but all students.
It was E.M. Forster that said, “Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” We become machines when we are forced to memorize formulas like Pythagorean theorem and the dates of European rulers. To some the formal system is too confined and restricting, similar to a prison, but there are others that prefer the efficient and regulated system.
In my first interview with Harper I asked her if she thought the formal setting was distracting or easy to focus in. She replied with, “I focus best when I am listening to a lecture and taking notes, opposed to working on my own. I also enjoy working in groups because we share a common goal.” Because Harper is partly an aural learner, it is most fitting that lectures suit her.
A benefit of formal education is that it presents students with a reliable source. An article called “Modern Education System. The Pro’s and Con’s” notes that “We and our children are getting taught by professionals of their field. Presently our education is based on making us the best in our area of interest, to help us reach our goals more easily” (https://bupinder21.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/modern-education-system-the-pros-and-cons/). Sure, YouTube tutorials on photography and your father teaching you how to replace a tire are spectacular ways of learning through visuals and experience, but they do not compare to the information an experienced instructor can provide.
Although Harper thrives best in the formal system, she told me, “Formal education should strive to have a more liberal arts focus to teach more critical thinking skills.” The article mentioned before also states, “We are being fed with facts and knowledge. Not art, not books, but life itself is the true basis of teaching and learning.” In addition, Harper says instructors can work to “make the world your classroom.” While she likes the order of the formal system, she believes informal activities should be intertwined so that students are not just filling their brain with facts, but they are understanding through experience as well.