Figuring out how we learn best: Don’t change the peg, change the hole!

There is an old saying that “a square peg won’t fit in a round hole”. Yet much of education, especially for those of us with learning disabilities, seems to consist of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. But can we change the hole?

People learn differently from one another. Not only do some learn best by listening, some by reading, some by doing and so on, but some learn best in large groups and some in small. There are people who learn best with lots of noise in the background and people who learn best in quiet surroundings. There are people who like to move while learning and those who prefer stillness. In lectures, there are people who learn best taking lots of notes and people who learn best with almost no notes at all.

A traditional school can’t possibly accommodate all these learning styles. The accommodation that helps the person who likes noise hurts the one who likes quiet; allowing Bill to move around the room may distract John who prefers stillness. A lecture with 400 people is not a seminar with 10.

And, although I would say that special education schools and programs are better equipped to deal with this glorious variety, even they can’t do it all.

Outside of school, though, we can try to accommodate ourselves and our children. And we need to recognize that our learning styles may not be those of our children.

Simply finding out how you or your child learns best won’t magically make you learn everything easily. But it will help. Because the hole may be closer to the right shape.


  1. I can relate to this phrase we can not change who we are we have to change our goals.

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