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Wed, Dec. 5th, 2007, 08:28 am
nrc_eu: The Sensory Modes of Learning

When learning to write fiction, it's helpful to know how you learn. The three modes by which humans perceive their world are through the visual, auditory, and tactile. You will likely recognize your mode of choice from the descriptions below.

 

The person whose major mode is visual learns through his eyes: reading from the printed page, studying charts and graphs, looking at pictures, or watching a video.

 

The person whose major mode is auditory learns primarily through hearing. He focuses his greatest attention on the spoken word, he hears and pays attention to the sounds around him. Some may want music playing in the background. A person who best acquires knowledge through listening may find it helpful to read the lesson material into a recording device, and then play it back as many times as necessary to learn the concepts taught in each lesson.

 

The person whose major mode is tactile perceives his world through the sense of touch. He runs a hand across a surface to experience the roughness or smoothness, explores an object by holding it in his hand, reads by following a line of text or the path of a graph or a chart with his finger.

 

Clues to a Person’s Preferred Sensory Mode

Once you become aware of the various sensory modes, it becomes easy to pick up clues as to an individual’s preferred mode by the words he chooses to say. Let’s set up a hypothetical situation where someone has committed a social blunder--unintentional, of course--but he is concerned about how he might be perceived by others in the group.

 

A person who experiences his world visually may say, “Did that make me look bad?”

 

The person who experiences the world through his sense of touch will likely say, “I don’t feel good about what I said?”

 

The auditory person might say, “Did that sound as bad as I think it did?”

 

I provide this information here to get you thinking about how you might use the various modes in creating your characters. On the one hand, if you create characters with differing sensory modes, you also create opportunities for misunderstandings and conflict. Conversely, you may need two characters who are in tune and complementary in personality. In that case, they will need similar sensory modes.

 

Your quest to become a fiction writer should begin by listening carefully to the words people use and the way in which they say them. If you can identify which mode a person uses, the easier you can communicate with him. Additionally, if you find it difficult to communicate with someone, pay special attention to the words he uses. Likely, each of you is operating from a different sensory mode and probably talking right past each other.

 

Mixed Learning Styles

Some people lean heavily toward one learning style, while others employ a mixture of two. One mode is usually dominant, with others in secondary or helping positions.

 

For example, the visual learner may also use the tactile as a helper. It could manifest itself like this: A person is reading material that he needs to remember (use of the visual mode). He might take notes, or maybe underline or highlight important information in the text (use of the tactile mode as backup) to reinforce his learning.

 

The auditory learner might also use the tactile in the same way as the visual learner. During a lecture (use of auditory mode), instead of relying completely on learning the information through his ears, he may take notes (use of tactile mode) to reinforce what he has heard.

 

The tactile learner will need his hands to be doing something during a lecture. To reinforce the information, he may take notes or outline the information, but he may never need to look at his notes again, because the very act of doing something with his hands during the learning process makes it easier for this person to assimilate the information. The tactile learner will also likely find it helpful to have something in his hands while reading from the printed page--something as simple as a holding a pencil or playing with a paperclip can help.

 

So, which learning style (or styles) do you use to assimilate new information? Once aware of the various learning styles and sensory modes, you will notice the different ways people use the variations combinations.

 

A successful fiction writer is a student of people's behavior.

 

Feel free to open discussion on this topic. For more information refer to my website: http://www.thewritersniche.com