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Learning Methods: Rote vs. Observational vs. Play

Learning Methods: Rote vs Observational vs Play

Learning Methods: Rote vs. Observational vs. Play

We may prefer to learn different ways, but that doesn’t mean our performance is based on the type of learning we prefer. Learning methods have always been a huge topic of discussion in education. Schools and teachers have been encouraged to try to cater to the individual needs of their students. This is good, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. There are many different learning styles, and we’re here to just look at and maybe review 3 of them. 

The Learning Methods We’ll Look At

Rote Learning

The first of the learning methods I’d like to mention is rote learning. Simply put, it’s memorization. Memorization based on repetition, to be specific. We all do this growing up as we memorize the alphabet of our respective languages, numbers, and even multiplication tables. Many see this as necessary for certain subjects, while others don’t agree. For sure, it probably isn’t the most effective way to learn, but it’s a method that’s still in use today. College students do this when they cram the night before an exam, haha. We’ve all been there!

Rote learning allows us to recall basic facts quickly and develop our foundational knowledge. But, it can be repetitive, boring, and easy to lose focus in this style of learning. Also, simple memorization doesn’t allow for a deep understanding of any subject, if that is required, and it doesn’t use any social skills which it’s important to encourage during the developmental stages.

Observational Learning

The second of the learning methods we’re going to talk about here is one that happens from the moment we open our eyes. Observational learning is how we learn by watching. We watch, memorize, and then mimic. Sometimes it’s even known as modeling. For example, when a child imitates the actions of its parents. A lot of the time it isn’t even intentional, which is why parents need to be very careful around their children. Even adults do it! Have you ever found yourself unintentionally imitating the gestures and phrases of the people you spend the most time with? That’s observational learning.

This is the most natural of learning methods since it’s done instinctively, particularly in animals. Babies do it from as young as 3 weeks. More conscious examples of observational learning are a child learning to use utensils like a spoon, fork, or chopsticks by watching their parents and imitating them. Personally, I used observational learning to learn and develop my volleyball setting skill. It’s very common among athletes. Observe, mimic, and practice. 

Play-Based Learning

We are born to play. You can’t turn that off. Play-based learning isn’t just letting a child play. It must be guided. A parent or teacher can encourage a child’s learning and inquiry. For example, when your little students, or children, are playing with blocks, you can ask them questions that encourage problem solving. Or, it can even encourage prediction and hypothesizing. Anything is possible. Some of the questions can even begin to give them the building blocks, pun intended, for subjects like mathematics, science, and even literacy! For example, how tall can you pile these blocks? How many blocks would you need to make it that tall? Can you “blow the house down”? Where have you heard that before? Who tried to blow a house down?

By doing this you’ll be encouraging your students and children to develop both cognitive and social skills. It’ll help them to mature emotionally, and also to gain the self-confidence they need to discover and participate in new experiences and environments. 

Can There Only Be One?

There is no wrong way to learn. There isn’t just one right way to learn. Everyone has a preferred learning style. But sometimes that depends on the subject as well. The best thing adults – whether they be parents, teachers, or guardians – can do is to provide children with multiple ways of learning and let them decide which way works best for them and in what areas. By doing this, you’ll be enabling the children of tomorrow.