By Ann Loomis
As Interest Area Consultant in Education, I was in charge of organizing the Education Symposium in Toronto. Titled “The Power of Show, Don’t Tell,” the symposium focused on demonstrating (showing) concepts rather than simply presenting (telling) them. In order to practice what we preach, Carol Shumate and I spent the morning engaging symposium participants and interacting with them. A lively discussion ensued about how psychological type is left out of the Learning Pyramid and how we can bring type in.
Intuitive Thinking type teachers, for instance, often prefer lecturing. Meanwhile, some of their students may day-dream or doze while the NT teacher relates primarily to NT students. Intuitive Feeling type English teachers may prefer to read poetry or literature aloud to their students and to assign their favorite reading material, thereby losing the sensing types who are hungry for more hands-on learning. Sensing type teachers tend to prefer visual aids and may rely on transparencies or Power Point to convey their material, without giving students much opportunity to experiment with or discuss the principles.
All teachers can reach a new dimension of performance by going deeper into the Learning Pyramid. At the heart of the Pyramid is “demonstration,” that is, illustrating a concept by modeling, role playing, or working through a process with students, as in writing paragraphs or doing math problems. Along with demonstrating the concept, teachers can divide their students into small discussion groups or have them practice by doing. Students are then ready for “teaching others,” the strategy providing the highest retention rate on the Learning Pyramid.
It is well known in the type community that Sensing Perceiving students are the ones most likely to be left behind in education. These students usually learn best by interacting in small discussion groups, practicing the material, and teaching others. However, these strategies may not be preferred by teachers who believe they will lose control of the classroom when they hand it over to the students. The take-home lesson from the Learning Pyramid is that teachers can be more effective when they not only teach from their preferences but also reach from their nonpreferences. In this way, they will be more likely to reach all types of students.
In the afternoon, Elizabeth Murphy and Len Tallevi further demonstrated how to reach different types of students. As co-directors of the Lighthouse Project, they have had years of experience using type in the classroom--Tallevi in Scarsdale, New York, and Murphy in Fort Worth, Texas. Len Tallevi demonstrated how to engage all types in a social studies lesson by including questions that appeal to the cognitive functions. His journaling topics and suggestions also include all the cognitive functions and have the added appeal of connecting the students’ personal lives to what they are studying.
Elizabeth Murphy, co-author of the Murphy-Meisgeier Type Indicator for Children (the MMTIC), demonstrated how we can be more sensitive to the different types through the use of language. For example, by simply changing the word “design” to “make” or “build,” teachers can go a long way towards engaging sensing types, who may be left behind by intuitive teachers. Murphy also introduced a picture exercise, thereby bringing in the image-making right brain hemisphere. The right brain is often left behind when teachers focus too much on the verbal left brain hemisphere.
Participants spent the last part of the symposium designing (making) their own lesson plan in small groups. In order to demonstrate this assignment, we, the presenters, modeled two lesson plans--one on social studies and one on poetry. We asked participants to place particular emphasis on the Learning Pyramid strategies that offer the highest retention rates and to include all the cognitive functions with sensitivity to the use of language. Each group would then model the lesson plan for feedback.
Frankly, the participants had a tough time with this final exercise, perhaps because it was the end of the day and perhaps because it is not so easy to put ideas into practice. However, everyone seemed to appreciate our “demonstration” approach to the symposium and left with a strong grasp of the power of “Show, don’t Tell.”