Once upon a time there were 7 billion #LearningStyles

According to some people, different “students” have different learning styles. Some others say its not so. Who cares? That will be my question today…


Hypothesis N° 1  = There are 4 learning styles and we should adapt to them all


Trainers have told me this time-and-again. I learnt it in a TTT class 10 years ago and I have said the same thing to TTT participants myself. I feel so ashamed!

How can this be?? Is it really possible that of the 7 billion people currently alive on planet Earth that there are only 4 learning styles? Common sense knows this is wrong.


Hypothesis N° 2 = There are more than 7 billion learning styles


When I was a boy, my mother used to tell me “You are special”. The idea that “No human being is the same as another” is currently fueling the strengths-movement (read @mwbuckingham ). What can it do for the learning world?

If we believe in Hypothesis N°1, then every time we design a learning initiative, we need to either know exactly which learning style participants have (and adapt to that) or we need to include something for everyone.

If we believe in Hypothesis N°2 and the principle of adapting learning approach to learning style, we are potentially in BIG TROUBLE!


Hypothesis N°3 = It really doesn’t matter


This is my idea today, fresh from my morning shower. And its simple:

  • Learning = acquisition + implementation of required competences
  • Competence = knowledge, skills, attitude
  • There may be 7 billion ways that people like to acquire and implement knowledge, skills and attitude…


Solution –> Don’t adapt your learning initiatives to learning styles, adapt to the working reality of the people

I think the challenge for learning professionals is not to worry about adapting their learning initiatives to the learning styles of different people. Companies don’t adapt their working reality to those styles. PEOPLE have to ADAPT TO the working REALITY in which they find themselves.

What is the job of a learning professional? To help people become and stay good at the stuff they need to do. How can this be done in line with Hypothesis N°3 ?

  • Focus on the stuff people need to do
  • Help them to adapt themselves to their reality
  • Supply real-time real-world workflow learning opportunities
  • In training, put them in Authentic Learning situations


Thanks for reading

Follow me on Twitter (today I will start naming the 7 billion learning styles 🙂 )

Visit www.infinitelearning.be

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Published by Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

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  1. Great post !

    About “PEOPLE have to ADAPT TO the working REALITY in which they find themselves”.

    Isn’t it too restrictive, limited to their perception of the reality ?

    Would prefer “PEOPLE have to CHALLENGE the working REALITY in which they find themselves”.

  2. Teachig at a school we are forever adjusting our lessons for the variety of students we teach. Your post made me smile, as what you say is so valid “Companies don’t adapt their working reality to those styles”, my colleagues and I experience that every day, all day. I agree with what you said, we need to “help them to adapt themselves to their reality”

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