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One-third of us learn better by seeing and doing than listening

Daily Staff Report

Visual learners must be taught differently than others, says an educational psychologist and expert in the field.

Dr. Linda Silverman will answer the question, “Are you in your right mind?” as she presents “The Challenges of Visual-Spatial Learners,” Wednesday evening at Berry Creek Middle School. It’s part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Eagle County School District’s Gifted Education Team.

Silverman is one of the nation’s foremost researchers on visual-spatial learning.



“The auditory-sequential approach works well if you are part of the two-thirds of the population that actually learns that way,” said Silverman. “But what if you are one of the visual-spatial learners that make up the other one-third?”

Silverman said visual-spatial learning is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. Visual-spatial learners think in images, see projects as a whole and they don’t need step by step instructions, which is the foundation of auditory-sequential learners and the basis for most education in this country.



“These are the artists, scientists and dreamers in our lives,” said Silverman. “It is often difficult for visual-spatial learners to feel successful in a world that rewards auditory-sequential accomplishment.”

Silverman said those who predominantly use their left hemisphere are known as “auditory sequential” learners. They think logically and in sequence. People with this learning style think primarily in words, relate well to time and progress sequentially from easy to difficult material.

“They are the detail people in our lives,” said Silverman. “Most of us have been educated in a classroom that focuses on auditory-sequential learning, i.e. first you learn to add, then subtract, then multiply, etc.”



Silverman has written more than 300 articles and lectured throughout the world on gifted education and the visual-spatial learning style. She is also the director of the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development and the Gifted Development Center in Denver. She holds a Ph.D. in special education and educational psychology from the University of Southern California.

Her new book, “Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner” offers an in depth discussion of the subject. Silverman will be available to sign copies of her book following the presentation and discussion.


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