Every year, at least one of my kids takes a test in school to determine what type of learner he is: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, musical, televisional (that's when a person can only do homework in front of the TV) or whatever. They discuss the results for a while, and then the class goes out for recess to hurl playground balls at each other as hard as they can.
I don't have to take any test to know what kind of learner I am (besides slow). I am a visual learner, without question. If something is written down--on a chalkboard, in a book, in a manual, on a bumper sticker--I can grasp the information and file it away in the proper memory bank. If not, well, let's just say some stuff "falls through the cracks."
Luckily, my wife knows this about me. In a social situation, she'll stay by my side, absorbing whatever it is that people are telling me, just in case I need that information later. Names? Not a clue. Occupations? Beats me. Details about their sick in-laws? What in-laws? If she's not with me, I try to cope by smiling and nodding my head a lot. What I'm really doing is wondering what's all the yak-yak noise interrupting my daydreaming.
In a business situation, I'm eternally grateful to the person who invented business cards. I may forget everything someone says, but at least I can refer to him or her by name with a quick downward glance at the card cupped discreetly in my hand. I'd be lost without nametags at conferences, too. (Women, I'm not being inappropriate; I'm simply staring at your nametags.)
I'm like the dog in that Gary Larson cartoon, who hears his master's commands as "Blah blah blah, Ginger, blah blah blah, Ginger, blah blah blah." (Except for the "Ginger" part.)
I've always been this way. In college, I'd sit in the back and do crossword puzzles while the professors lectured, stopping every so often to copy down a formula from the board. Good thing I never had to pass oral exams.
Sometimes I'll get off the phone and not remember any of the details of the conversation. I guess I need to start "recording calls for quality control purposes."
My inability to "process auditory signals" is why I don't stop and ask directions. "Blah blah blah. Right. Blah blah. Gas station. Blah blah. U-turn." It's too embarrassing to ask people to write them down for me. (Note: The directions don't have to be words--I'm quite good with maps and patterns. Just as long as people aren't describing them verbally.) (Another note: My reticence to ask for directions has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I'm male, and it's a crushing blow to my ego to admit I'm lost. Nothing whatsoever.)
I wonder if this, uh, little quirk is partly responsible for me becoming a writer instead of an actor or singer or politician (aside from an overwhelming lack of talent in those arenas, of course).
How about you? How do you learn most effectively?