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This is the fourth post in our series about the four learning style pairs of Isabel Meyers-Briggs and how they apply to music teaching and learning. Do you have an Perceiver or a Judger in your life? Do you yourself have strong tendencies toward one side or the other? Here we go!

Sarah is a Perceiver

Sarah is spontaneous and non judgmental.  She sees all sides of an issue and wants all pertinent information. She excels in “people” skills.

Sarah starts many tasks but finds completing them difficult. She often postpones unpleasant work such as a difficult technical exercise or perhaps her theory work.

Sarah seeks information “to infinity and beyond” and often has trouble planning ahead and controlling circumstances. To Sarah deadlines are not fixed but meant as a general guidelines

Chris is a Judger

Chris wants just the essentials of a problem. He is easily able to focus, organize and implement plans of action and to do so quickly.

Chris can be stubborn and inflexible. He is generally uninterested in process. He may take over leadership of a group in the interest of efficiency.

Chris often makes decisions based on insufficient information. He does not respond well to adjustments to plans or deadlines. Once a plan is put into effect Chris can become controlled by it rather than responsive to the goals of that plan.

Chris often needs to be protected from himself. He is as critical of and harsh to himself as he is to everyone else. This often interferes with his attempts to be creative and expressive. Reflective materials and activities which gently challenge Chris’s thought process may help him refrain from reaching conclusions too quickly. His teacher uses a split page for assignments to help him deal with the inevitable and necessary adjustments to practice plans and to give him an outlet for his views.

Sarah is inquisitive and “easily distracted by bright and shiny objects.” Her teacher knows that she is bright and inquisitive but despairs over the fact that she just never seems to finish anything. Sarah needs materials with lots of small steps and clear goals for accomplishing them. She also needs continuous, clear feedback. Her teacher has found audio-taped feedback to be very helpful.

Both Sarah and Chris benefit from using the “sloppy copy” technique applied to their pieces. They are encouraged to go ahead and be messy – pour it all out – then go back and use a series of clear cut objectives to clean and polish things up. Students who are considerably balanced toward either perceiving, as is Sarah, or towards judging, as is Chris, pose some major teaching challenges. Their teachers find that strong parental support is needed to work successfully with them.

Both perceivers and judgers require strongly organized teachers. These students need teachers who plan ahead and communicate that plan. They benefit from participating in others’ decision making processes as models for their own. Projects that require exploration and discovery are right up the perceivers alley but will be successful for judgers as well if they understand that it is part of a larger design.

Judgers will be happiest when there are clear deadlines and criteria. Contracts that are customized to allow for a wide range of choices for accomplishing goals can be very effective with both judgers and perceivers. Judgers often want a detailed recommendation of exactly what to do and how to do it while perceivers benefit from choices that accommodate a more playful ebb and flow approach.

As I said earlier strong perceivers and judgers can be some of the most challenging students we work with. Awkward situations with our colleagues or our student’s parents can also arise due to strong perceiver/judger preferences. I encourage you to mull over people you have known who fit the characteristics of perceiving and judging and the resulting situations you may have encountered. Don’t forget about yourself. Do you tend toward either of these styles? If so, you can help yourself toward balance and better communication with judicious use of the tips above.

GSU Master Teacher Program: On Learning Styles

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