Learning styles don't exist

Interesting video from Veritasium.


I always thought I was a visual learner because every time I think back on information I often see everything I looked at when I came across the information, like the pages or the videos etc. The same for sounds; the music videos or movies pop back up. Turns out there is no such thing as visual learner!

This does solve my own little mystery why I remember so much irrelevant information while I am focused on something else. If I study a book for example, I often not only remember the text I should know but also the irrelevant side information or pictures I don’t need to know.

What do you guys think? Does this change anything about the way you learn or thought you learned?


I think this just indicates that the more actively you learn, the better. If you engage with the information, try to understand it and are genuinely interested in it, it will be easier to learn, no matter how the information is presented. The good thing is, no matter how uninteresting the information is to you, you can usually make it interesting and force yourself to engage with it by using memory techniques.


@albinoblanke, thanks for posting that video!

As a teacher that was tasked with teaching other new teachers how to teach, I made sure to take 15 minutes to summarize the main points from the cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham’s great little short book, Why Don’t Students Like School? along with the required pedagogical content. I was delighted to see him in person in the video!

One of his main points was to not be concerned with the students’ learning styles and focus on your lesson content and how it is taught. In other words, as stated in the video, VARK learning styles are a myth. It’s an easy way for the student to blame the teacher. If anyone is interested in my PowerPoint deck, I can provide it for them.

I wholehearted agree that the teacher needs to provide the right design with multiple media types and not worry about the student except for making sure they know how to learn. I have increased the amount of interaction with information I need to learn by creating mnemonic visuals, rewriting it, and doing processes repeatedly until they are understood. I applied Willingham’s principles to me as a student which worked well.


Hi albinoblanke,

Glad to see you posted the Veritasium video. This is a topic of importance, IMO. On the one hand, we all benefit from hypothesizing and trying to figure out how we can get our brains to do their best work. On the other hand, we compound our ignorance when our conjectures end up becoming so popular that they are treated by the mainstream as fact. That seems to be what happened with the learning styles idea.

For anybody who is interested, there is a book I have mentioned on this website a few time that made me aware there is little evidence to support the claims made about teaching methods based on so-called learning styles.

The book is called “Make It Stick” (Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning – Retrieval Practice). In addition to debunking learning styles, it explains some of the most important results from research on studying for long term retention.

On a personal level, the book helped me to revise my learning process by systematically clearing up some key misconceptions that were interfering with my own learning process. Often, the notions we think are helping us are actually making things worse the more we cling to them. Although the authors seemed rather lukewarm on the usefulness of mnemonics, the information and ideas presented in this book were instrumental in reigniting my passion for memory, mnemonics and learning in general.





Interesting topic! I’d appreciate to get the PowerPoint deck, might purchase the book later. I’ll PM you my e-mail address.


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That’s not a learning style test but a short term memory test, and it’s of physical objects. As it was only a short term memory test and not what anyone would call real learning, I won’t go into my opinion on the page turning which wasn’t performed at the exact same speed each time.

Also, I’m not certain, but were the same people tested on the same objects the second time when printed and spoken words were presented along with the pictures?

That’s a tricky video. Quite naturally chunking, elaborative encoding, narrative, and even Loci can all be used together. But doing it on the fly with peers around and performance and test anxiety – Too many loose variables.

For some things visuals do work better, auditory for others - but I use everything, a lot of times in the same thing being memorized.

I don’t accept that we all learn the same, and here’s one reason why - some students have zero memory tools. They know nothing of acronyms, acrostics, Domino PAO, Major System, Pomodoro, …nothing. they know rote. In general.

I don’t think that video qualifies as authoritative scientific evidence of anything.

Absolutely has nothing to do with “learning” for sure. I’m also not sure about his other examples… I mean, I had geography in school as I recall and… it wasn’t really about memorizing maps all day long.

Unfortunately, that’s not even what the video is about. What they’re trying to do is discredit the VARK model for learning styles. The video could care less about what you mention, even though the “test subjects” in the video did explain their “memory” (not learning) techniques in the way you describe.

Now, I could do the same going into any chemistry class in the world and disprove molecules… because those little sets to stick two Hs with one O are really not what “water” actually looks like… wanna know why? Because it’s a model.

Videos along the same lines of thinking: You are not left-brained or right-brained; IQ tests don’t measure intelligence, etc.

I wouldn’t call them a myth per se, because then MBTI types are also just a myth… or see my chemistry example above. They’re not myths, they’re simply models.

There is no point in disproving a model… a model is obviously a simplification of things. Also, VARK is as much a teacher tool as it is a student tool; and gives teachers an easy way to ensure an engaging learning environment.



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Agreed. :smiley: Models really don’t need to be accurate or even true. They should be useful, of course.

And modest.

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But MBTI types are a myth. It has been debunked a lot of times.

The difference between the molecule model and vark model is that the molecule module is just a nice way to picture a REAL object. But the vark model is not based on anything. There is no underlying mechanism.

And that is the point of disproving the vark model. Because it portraits itself as something of merit but it has no merit and that needs to be known.