404 4 Ways of Learning

4 Ways of Learning

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~Eartha Kitt

4 Ways of Learning

I love to teach. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a desire within me to share what I’ve learned with those around me. This desire comes from an incessant hunger for learning.

Whether you are a school teacher, an entrepreneur or a minister of the Gospel, continual learning is non-negotiable. If you are not learning, you are being left behind.

Our generation provides us with more access to information than previously available. We have no excuse not to learn new things on a regularly basis. However, we do not all learn in the same ways.

Understanding how you learn best is critical for living a lifestyle of learning. If you are a hands on type of person, going to college may very well be counter productive. However, you may well likely excel at a trade school. When you find your style, you will be much more successful at whatever you aspire to.

4 Ways of Learning

Cognitive – I’m a book worm. I can read just about anything at length if I’m interested. I’ve been known to read entire product manuals, just to be sure that I don’t miss a single feature. I learn best cogntively.

Cognitive learners thrive with books and lectures. They typically do extremely well in a classroom environment.

Social – My church meets in small groups on Sunday mornings. We basically have a mini church service with 25 people in a house. The teaching time is open to discussion. Everyone is free to participate. They can ask questions or share their thoughts on a particular passage that we are studying. It is very interactive.

Social learners absorb information through discussion. Small group or one on one discussions are best for a social learner because they are able to share their thoughts and combine them with the thoughts of others.

Doing – I do a lot of training in my job. We use complex software programs for our daily tasks. Many times as I’m presenting the information for the first time to a new employee, their eyes glaze over. I’ve lost them. Then I get them in front of their own computer and everything changes. Once they have their hands on it, it makes sense.

When you learn primarily by doing, most other types of learning don’t make sense. Doers tend to zone out everything else. They need to touch it. Talking about it or watching someone else do it feels like a waste of time. Once they do it, they get it.

Observing – My fiancé has this uncanny ability. She only needs to be shown something once and she’ll remember it. At work, she will observe how things are done and the next thing you know, she’s doing it like she’s done it all her life. She only has to observe how to drive to a location once and she can get there on her own the next time.

Those that learn by observing are very detail oriented. They pay very close attention to what, how and why something is being done. Then they can quickly replicate it on their own.

Teachers And Learners

If you plan on being a teacher in any capactity, it is imperative to understand that not everyone learns in the same way that you do. A teacher must be aware of his students and adapt to their style when necessary.

Both teachers and learners must also be aware that some things can only be learned within the context of a specific style. You can learn traffic laws in a classroom but you will only learn to drive a car by doing it.

Learning shouldn’t stop when you finish high school or college. Anyone that desires to follow their dreams and to live out the destiny that God has called them to MUST be on a journey of continual learning. If you are going to grow in wisdom and maturity and fulfill your calling, you will need to understand the ways of learning and adapt to them all.

What is your preferred way of learning?


  1. I love this post, it’s important to recognize that there are different styles of learning. Especially when it comes to children, we have to figure out their best learning style. Great advice for teachers, thanks for sharing!

  2. Gilda Robbins says:

    Love to read and can read for hours on end. What did I learn? Short synopsis can be found on Wikipedia. I am such a doer – reading a book could kill me I am positive of it!

  3. I best learn cognitively. If I could’ve made a career out of attending college, I probably would have. I certainly do enjoy classroom setting. But I also learn from observing. I can think back to a few things that I learned in life, practical stuff such aas ironing and washing clothes at a young age, just by observing my family members.
    Juan Cruz, Jr. recently posted..Just have fun!

  4. I’m between the “cognitive” and “doing”. I’m a personal and leadership growth junky but I also learn a lot of valuable things through doing. Great post.

  5. I’m a cognitive, observing learner. Love to read and can read for hours on end. I have to have something in front of me to learn, whether book or computer or power point. I love that our pastor speaks and has something up on the screen; notes or me just watching him speak. Cool observations, Tony.
    Sandy Sandmeyer recently posted..Never Beyond – Even Darth Vader Was Forgiven

  6. I’m a combination learner. I like to read and do. Fortunately my online MBA met these styles well.
    ThatGuyKC recently posted..Men & Women: Different is Good… Really!

  7. I’d say I’m a cognative doer. I read about it, figure out how to it and then go and do it to ram the lesson home.
    Jason recently posted..Day 243: Boom! Provision!

  8. Ooooh, Tony-this is def one of my favorite subjects: types of learning. I actually thought {and sometimes still think} I was going to be a teacher. I finished half of a Master’s in Education before switching to counseling. Have you heard of Gardner’s 8 types of intelligences? One of my biggest projects in grad school was developing a lesson plan for American History to suit all types of learners. It was sooooo fun!

    Gardner’s 8 intelligences include spatial, linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic-these are all offshoots of what you’ve described here. Short synopsis can be found on Wikipedia. A book you may be intersted in reading, which is one of my favorites, is entitled Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, by Daniel Goleman. A little scientific/psychological, but def full of great info. The reviews on Amazon have some powerful stories about how this book has changed people’s lives.

    I love learning. I love motivating others to learn in ways that suit them best. One of my biggest priorities as a mom is helping my boys discover the ways they learn best, and nurturing those abilities so they will succeed in life. Cool post, Tony! I could talk about this stuff for days. Really, I would love to teach a class on this topic.
    Keri recently posted..Pop Tops: Blog + Business = Bloginess

    • I’d hadn’t heard of Gardner’s 8 types of intelligences but I’m looking at it now. That looks fascinating! I would love to do an exercise like that with a lesson plan.

      It’s funny that you mention emotional intelligence because I was just reading about that recently. I’m definitely going to check out that book.

      I you teach me a class on this topic, save me a seat in the front row!

  9. As a teacher – I am a little bit of all of these. I am an audio or kinetic learner – which means I can remember things that I’ve heard on the radio or on a CD – YEARS later – as far as the lyrics and the melody. This greatly helped me in my music history class in college when the teacher would pull “listening” tests. I always NAILED them! It is with great practice that I can usually tell what learning style my music students have – and then help them find new ways to incorporate this into their music lessons 🙂
    Cindy Holman recently posted..Brain Cramps

  10. I recently found out that I need all four of the different ways – and it depends on the subject matter of what I’m learning – but I prefer observing. And that makes sense because when I teach it is heavy on the “demonstration” side of things.
    Ryan Tate recently posted..Waking up Early

  11. I’m very much a doer. I love the whole process of finding out how something works, why things are put together the way they are, etc…. If someone just “tells” me, it’s nowhere near as much fun. I’d much rather discover it on my own. 🙂

    • I think a lot of people are like you, Logan. While all the kids were opening up their toys to find out how they work, I was the kid with his nose in the instruction manual.

      Not much has changed!

  12. I am definitely a “Doing” kind of learner. It’s how I learned sales, graphic design, writing and even how to start my own nonprofit. I just step out and do it, and learn along the way. There are probably more issues that come up that way, things I could have avoided if I tried the textbook style learning, but it’s not nearly as fun 😀
    Jason Vana recently posted..The Dreaded Tolerance Card

    • Yeah I definitely hear you, Jason. I guess I’m not that adventurous but some things really just have to be “done” to learn. I can get caught up wasting time studying up when many times I need to just DO it.

  13. I learn cognitively, socially, and by doing things. It also depends on the subjects that I am learning…
    Because I am a senior in high school, I am taught in many different ways by my teachers, but I often find that I learn the mist from my peers!
    Quinton recently posted..Pro Cycling Challenge

  14. Doing and Observing – a little mix of both. I can see something and remember pretty well, but reading it…. ehhh 🙂
    dustin recently posted..The Big 100

    • Strangely enough, I don’t like to do anything before I understand it. That’s why I like reading. I think it’s a point of comfort. Once I read it and/or hear it, I feel assured enough to put my hands on it.

  15. Reading and observing. I love learning. But the problem with that is then it’s so easy for me to stay in the realm of the theoretical and never put action into anything.
    Loren Pinilis recently posted..Principles and Techniques for Using a Capture Device

  16. Like you, I have a fire in my belly for teaching. With that, of course comes learning. I love to learn. My favorite way of learning is by reading and by experimenting.

    For example, when I was a kid, I made believe I was a scientist, and once put a cockroach in a bottle (give me a break, I was 5 years old). While there, I put Tang inside the bottle to see if the roach will die. What do you know… she did. What did I learn? Tang kills roaches.

    As humans, we should always be learning, innovating, and seeking. Those who do will be rewarded with wisdom. So stinking awesome!
    Moe recently posted..The Usual Suspects: The Young Man Lacking Sense

  17. I’m a combination of cognitive and social. I’m a total book nerd and love going to lectures (so long as they’re dynamic speakers) but then I definitely enjoy processing what I’ve learned with others. That firms the ideas up in my mind and gets me thinking about other things as well. Interesting stuff, Tony!
    HopefulLeigh recently posted..In Which I Cheer for the Bears…in Tennessee

    • We’re a lot alike in that way, Leigh. I love having Katie to bounce blog ideas off of. I tell her what I’m planning to write about and most of the time she helps flesh out my ideas or gives me a whole new way to look at it.

  18. Somewhere between cognitive and observing.

    I can learn easily from a book, but I watched an instructional video on youtube on how to put in an IV and I swear to myself I could do it now.
    Dave H recently posted..Autumn Is In The Air… A Summer Recap

  19. Awesome post, Tony! I can learn from reading a book or a manual, but I don’t truly “know” it until I do it myself or observe someone else do it. The same goes with discussions. I learn from discussions, but I don’t feel like I really get it until I am applying it to my own life. If I’m not careful I can teach something that I have only read about or discussed. If I understand it, I can teach it…but just because I understand it, doesn’t mean I’ve learned it. Experience is the best teacher.
    Katie M recently posted..What Dreams May Come…

  20. I’m a little of the last 3…

    I learn socialy, observing, and doing…

    I was never a book room…i didn’t like to read much…which is really weird cause I LOVE to write! hahaha…
    Arny recently posted..“I don’t Love You Anymore Daddy”

  21. I think i am a combination of the social and the doer. I love learning in groups and having the give and take. I also love learning by doing something for myself (and having someone there teaching me if necessary). Reading whole manuals? I can think of better ways. LOL Oh btw: you are getting married soon? Yeah, you better have your learning cap on my friend. Just saying… 🙂
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..Believe

    • As a pastor, I think it’s great that you are a social/doer. That’s critical for a teacher, particularly of scripture, to be comfortable in those capacities.

      And don’t worry, I’ve learned more about myself in a few short months of engagement that I have in a VERY long time. I know there’s tons more of that to come!

  22. Two ways: My first way is to read it. But I also like to see real life examples. Discipleship is best done when we watch and observe others. That’s why it’s crucial to live a life above reproach. And now I’m deviating. #mybad.
    Michael recently posted..Never Beyond Saving

  23. I am such a doer – reading a book could kill me I am positive of it!
    Matthew Snider recently posted..Apple Was Given The App Store URL!?!

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