The first is the apprentice. Perhaps sensing that they need structure and attention, apprentices learn and study best from direct, one-on-one instruction and interaction with a master. They thrive on feedback and encouragement.
The second type is the systematizer. This is someone who takes a very systematic, procedural, rule-based approach to studying and learning. Systematizers love organization and ritual, which gives them a sense of control over their learning (and lives).
The third type is almost the opposite of the systematizer – the experimenter. Experimenters love to discover things for themselves, and they basically learn and develop through trial-and-error. They love to jump into things before having a plan and adapt quickly when they make mistakes.
The fourth type of student is the practicer. Practicers are obsessed with perfection: they practice and practice all day long until a certain skill comes naturally to them.
The fifth type is the technician. Technicans are obsessed with the technical details of a skill or subject. They pore over minute facts or concepts, and they want to know every technique, every move of a skill or art-form.
The sixth type of student is the eclectic. Unlike the technician, who loves to go deeper and deeper into a field or skill, the eclectic likes to go wide, expanding his or her interests throughout many different fields, skills, or art-forms. The eclectic loves connecting different subjects or blending different techniques to improve upon them.
The last type is the simplifier. The simplifier is motivated primarily by a disdain for complexity. For simplifiers, complex ideas, concepts, skills simply impede learning, making it harder for them to truly absorb and appreciate the subject or art or skill. What simplifiers want is to overcome obstacles with the least amount of effort.
Thus, simplifiers tend to focus on general principles that will allow them to be effective in their study. They tend to break everything down to basic concepts, principles, practices to gain a strong understanding of their field or skill of interest.
In reading about these seven types, you’ll probably find yourself identifying with more than one type. I myself identify with the simplifier and the eclectic. That’s okay – the important thing is to understand which student or students you feel matches you and forget all the advice you’ve heard or read about learning or mastery that match those other types.
If you’re a simplifier, don’t waste time trying to master the technical details of a subject or skill. If you’re an experimenter, don’t feel bad if you seem to have a haphazard approach to learning. Just be aware of who you are and go from there.
So what about you? Which type of student do you identify with?