[Haskell-cafe] On finding the right exposition...

Chris Smith cdsmith at gmail.com
Fri Sep 17 20:59:09 UTC 2021

On Fri, Sep 17, 2021 at 3:52 PM Viktor Dukhovni <ietf-dane at dukhovni.org>

> No single exposition is optimal for all learners.  Some are
> visual-spacial, others verbal-sequential, and there are likely other
> learning styles I've not heard of.

If you'll forgive the slight argumentativeness, I do want to point out, as
someone who follows education research quite a bit, that this learning
styles hypothesis is a pretty well-known myth.  It sounds good and feels
true, but has been falsified every time someone has tried to gather
evidence to validate it.

There are some related statements that are true.  For example, different
people certainly have different preferences for modes of presentation, but
those preferences don't actually correlate with how well they learn.
Feeling confused or unsatisfied doesn't mean you're not learning!  For
another example, people definitely do learn better when they see
information from several different points of view, but it's apparently not
because different people learn best from different points of view, but
rather because all people learn best when they have more different
perspectives to integrate.  And for a last example, people definitely do
have preferences and abilities for learning different kinds of content,
which are in turn most naturally communicated in certain ways, but it's
apparently the natural way to present an idea that matters more in terms of
learning, not the individual's preferences for style.

This is actually pretty related to what we're talking about here.  If it
were true that different people understand monads better when they are
presented in ways that match the individual's style of learning, reliable
evidence of this would be revolutionary in education research.  (Meaning:
it's very, very likely not to be true, though I cannot point to research
that studies understanding monads, in particular.)  But luckily, the
solution to this myth is just *not* to differentiate, but rather to provide
all of these points of view to everyone who is learning, whether they
*feel* that
this is the right presentation or it *feels* like it's making sense to them
or not.  When evaluating our own learning experiences, we should be careful
to remember that the times we were learning were probably actually the
times we felt a bit confused.  The presentation that finally made sense
probably wasn't the most helpful one.

See https://www.google.com/search?q=learning+styles+myth for lots of
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