The identification of the emergence of individual approaches to learning in young children: implications for recruitment and continuing programmes of training and development in business and public service organisations

Tony Hurlin

Hampshire Able and Talented Child Project

Since September 1995 the Hampshire able and Talented Child Project has been using classroom action-research techniques based on phenomenological methodology to observe, describe and record the emergence of learning styles in young learners (children aged from three to eleven years).

The testimony of teachers seconded to the project, Hampshire’s specialist inspectors and leading teachers in able child education has revealed a rich evidence base of both qualitative and quantitative data. This data, mainly in the form of case study and artefacts that evidence learning, suggests that the acquisition and demonstration of individual approaches to learning are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.

This paper presents two propositions:
    1. that individual approaches to learning can be identified and evidenced from the
    earliest years of education
    2. educators have a vital, nurturing role to play in the development of a diversity of
    approaches to learning backed on the acquisition of an applied repertoire of
    difference learning styles.             

The paper addresses a central dilemma for early years educators: should the emphasis in teaching be placed on the strengths or weaknesses within ech child’s profileof learning styles in a repertoire of learning styles; or should the aim be the creation of some sort of culturally agreed balance in this emerging repertoire. The paper makes extensive use of children’s work in addresing this proposition.

The final part of the paper points up some key implications of the research findings for recruitment, training and development and succession planning in business and public service organisations.

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