Masters' Thesis: Chapter II: "It's a Jungle Out There"! The Theories of Keith Golay (Part 1: Introduction, Personality/Learning Profiles and Determining Learning Styles)
Keith Golay, the noted educational psychologist, emphasizes the fact that every person is different. Everybody has a unique genetic wiring which determines intelligence, learning patterns, physical constitution and temperament. Unfortunately, when a teacher has to deal with different temperament types in a complex environment such as a classroom, it is very easy for incompatibilities to occur between the students, the instructional programs, and the utilization of classroom space (Learning, 2). In an effort to reduce this mismatch, teachers should do the following:
1. Discover the personal characteristics of each student.
2. Consider what educational environment has the most direct effect on the behavior of students.
3. Understand which factors of the environment are most compatible with each learner's characteristics.
4. Have a plan for arranging the classroom to accommodate a variety of students, methods and materials (Golay, Learning, 2).
Typology is the belief that all people display a style of life which predisposes them to certain ways of thinking, wanting and emoting, and which gives rise to constancies in behavior. By knowing a student's personality, a teacher can predict his reaction most of the time. Keirseian Temperament Theory is a typology that views the personality as unified. All the imagined parts of a person's temperament work together to create a unified personality. Golay quoted David Keirsey as saying "Temperament is primary; abilities, preferences, emotions and actions are secondary. One's temperament predisposes him to certain ways of thinking, understanding, or conceptualizing, and to having certain wants, motives or values. And since patterns of emoting and acting are governed by thoughts and motives, they follow suit" (Learning, 12). Keirsey defines four different personality types, and Golay relates four different learning styles to Keirsey's personality types. These eight different categories are referred to by many different names: Dionysian and Artisan, Epimethean and Guardian, Promethean and Rational, Apollonian and Idealist are the different names for these personality types. In his first book, Learning Patterns and Temperament Styles, Golay refers to the learning patterns in scientific terms: Actual Spontaneous Learners, Actual Routine Learners, Conceptual Specific Learners, and Conceptual Global Learners. In Introducing the Animal Kingdom, it's a Jungle Out There, he relates these learning styles to similar type animals: Ape, Bear, Owl and Dolphin. Throughout this paper (or blog 12 years later), the terms Artisan, Guardian, Rational, and Idealist will be used in reference to the personality types: Ape, Bear, Owl, and Dolphin will be used to designate learning styles.
Personality Profiles and Learning Styles
Artisan Apes. Artisan-type people want freedom. Robert Frost, the artisan poet once said: "To be pressed into service is to be pressed out of shape." (Qtd. in Golay, Learning, 13). Very active people won't work well when forced into a position which restricts their actions. Artisans are impulsive and live for each moment without ever considering the past (it's gone) or the future (it's intangible). As a result, they make only few, short-term tentative goals. Artisans act swiftly and with great precision. They can seize the moment and are not afraid to take risks since they respond well in a crisis. Artisans live in a physical world; they like tools and working in a hands-on environment. They are frequently described as exciting, unpredictable, generous, and fun-loving. Using Kiersey's Artisan temperament types Golay defined how an individual with this personality learns most effectively; he described such individuals as Apes in his presentation Introducing the Animal Kingdom- it's a Jungle Out There (40).
Ape learners are not abstract learners. They learn by doing, and only learn what is needed to take some form of action. Given the right incentive, Ape students do what is necessary to achieve their goals. Apes dislike restriction and want to be free to move about; they can be "behavior" problems. Teachers should create lessons giving Ape students equal time doing "boring" school work (math problems, reading) and fun, educational "hands-on" projects (building a volcano for a science class, or creating a collage for a book report). This can provide variety and stimulation. These types of learners won't respond well to the typical lecture format. An instructor should plan dynamic presentations which include audio-visual aids. She should also keep it short, since these learners lose interest quickly. A discussion approach would also be effective if kept fast-paced. Action is the key to motivating these students; they want hands-on experience. Once an activity captures the interest of these students, they will do it for hours on end. If Ape learners become interested in playing the piano, they will practice often and for long periods of time; they can easily become outstanding performers. Highly structured assignments that require planning will most likely not ever be done, or will be thrown together quickly by this type of student. They are cheerful, fun and energetic. Ape students respond well to fun educational games and dramatizations or role playing; they like competition and being the center of attention. Approximately thirty-eight percent of students in a class size of thirty-two will be Apes (Golay, Learning, 32)
In the piano studio, Ape students will not want to sit still, unless you capture their interest. They will find practicing scales boring, and won't want to memorize music. Lessons for Apes need to be stimulating and exciting. For example, to motivate Apes to practice technique, the teacher could set up a competition between students to see who can learn the most scales. If there is a reward at the end, Ape students will see it as a payoff, and the excitement of competition will inspire them to practice scales (Golay, Staying, 164)
Guardian Bears. The Guardian is the second personality type defined by Keirsey. Duty is what Guardians like. They like to belong and must earn the right to belong. They like social organizations: family, church, school, municipality, and corporation. Guardians like structure, order, planning, and hierarchical structure (subordinate and super-ordinate). They also like rules and regulations governing actions and social status. Guardians defer to superiors, but also demand status recognition- they relate to others in terms of status. Additionally, consistency and routine are highly valued. Guardians are always punctual and expect others to be the same. As Guardian business leader, R. Pollock said: "Pleasure is due only when all duty's done" (qtd. in Golay, Learning, 14). Guardians carefully plan and manage their lives, and always prepare for the worst to happen. They can be described as stable, reliable, practical and dependable. Guardian personality types are described by Golay as Bears (Introducing, 41).
Bears want to know concrete actualities. These students focus on responsibilities such as developing good study habits, developing proper social attitudes, and completing well-structured assignments which meet teacher approval. Bears gain knowledge through identifiying and memorizing facts and procedures and also by repetition and drill. Lessons for Bear students should be organized, and presented sequentially and in increments that make sense. Bears function well in a consistent, clearly-defined environment. They follow classroom rules, and also work to help enforce classroom rules. These students spend time preparing and planning for class. They need clear directions on all assignments and will not respond well to an assignment that requires creativity. When teaching Bear students, the teacher should provide clear expectations, step-by-step instructions, and praise for a job well done. Bear students work hard to receive a teacher's approval. They are responsible, dependable, meticulous, and industrious. Bears normally turn in complete, organized, and neat work right on time. Bear learners enjoy completing worksheets and workbooks. They acquire knowledge through thorough searching for facts, and frequent review of material and textbooks. Teachers should be very clear about what is expected and assignments should be structured. These students also like to take on extra responsibilities; emptying wastebaskets, cleaning blackboards, putting away books, or sweeping the floor. They like being classroom monitor. In a class of thirty-two, approximately thirty-eight percent will be Bears (Golay, Learning, 32)
The Bears in the piano studio will always be prepared for their lessons. They practice their scales consistently, and are good at memorizing the mechanics of a piece of music. They are not very creative, and will not be good at improvising. They like to receive gold stars, happy faces, and good grades (Golay, Staying, 164).
Rational Owls. The rational type is the third personality type defined by Keirsey. Rational personality types constantly search for competency. They always work to acquire intelligence and wisdom. They believe that "Knowledge is Power" (Francis Bacon, qtd. in Golay, Learning, 16) and always search to acquire power over nature. This power allows Rational individuals to understand, explain, predict and control reality. It is through ideas that Rationals seek to gain power. They always act on theoretical principle, because, as Rational architect Frank Lloyd Wright said: "Principle is the only safe precedent" (qtd. in Golay, Learning, 19). Rationals are very scholarly; many become college professors and never leave the educational system. They are compulsive thinkers and are often unable to turn off absorbing thoughts. They are very self-critical and are unable to accept errors in logic. Rational personality types like to collect, organize and classify ideas and objects. They appreciate verbal eloquence and are very fluent. Unfortunately, Rationals are not good communicators; they use large words and attempt to say a lot by using few words. They are good at problem solving. Rational personality types are described by Golay as Owls (Introducing, 41).
Owls want to be able to understand, explain, predict and control reality. They are the typical "little scientist" type. These learners are interested in seeking out and understanding principles; they collect rules in order to give structure to the cognitive world. Owls are uninterested in isolated facts, but want to explain the principles behind the facts. They learn by experimentation and are always trying to find answers to some mystery; they're curious. When they arrive at a conclusion, it is well thought out. These students enjoy school work that entails synthesizing the logical elements of a task, or that requires technical documentation and classification. Writing assignments are often seen as "busy work". Owl students prefer to devote time to inquiring into problems. They are problem solvers. Assignments that require the collection and classification of ideas, and which provide the opportunity for inventing, discovering and designing are engaging. Long-term projects are effective; Owls will pursue answers with little to no encouragement from the teacher. These students become bored with routine tasks, repetition and drill exercises. They will also become impatient with what they see as intellectual "inferiors", and as a result are usually solitary individuals. Group discussion and group projects are not beneficial. They are often seen as cold, unfeeling and arrogant by their peers. Teachers need to be careful not to overwhelm Owl students; they are very alert to their own shortcomings and self doubt can inhibit them. Approximately twelve percent of students in a class of thirty-two would be Owls (Golay, Learning, 36).
In the piano studio, Owl students will work to master a piece of music. They will analyze the structure and function of the work, and will work to hone their skills. Owls will also enjoy learning about different compositional styles and their impact on musical culture. (Golay, Staying, 164).
Idealist Dolphins. Philosopher Jean Philippe Sartre's statement, "Each man must discover his own way" (qtd. in Golay, Learning, 18) sums the personality of Idealists (Golay, Introducing, 41). They desire a unique identity and want to make unique contributions. Idealists want to be loved for who they are. Actress Marilyn Monroe showed her Idealist nature when she said: "I wanted to be famous so that everyone would like me and I'd be surrounded by love and affection" (qtd. in Golay, Learning, 22). This personality type believes that life is a drama, and tries to grasp the importance of each experience, thus giving deeper meaning to life. Idealists are people-oriented and focus on individuals and their relationships to each other. As nurturing types, they like to find potential in every individual and try to inspire and transform him/her. Idealists wish to help each person find greatness, intelligence, virtue and heroism. Idealist personality types are described by Golay as Dolphins (Introducing, 41).
Dolphins are interested in what could be, rather than what is or was. They look at the future as being full of possibilities. These students always look for meaningful things in life; they want to make a difference in the world. Facts, or explanations of facts are not important to these students; they want to know why these facts are important and significant. Dolphins consider reality to be subjective; it depends on each individual's point of view. These students need individual and personalized teaching approaches. Rather than using a typical lecture format, teachers should try a presentation which uses personal illustrations, should make eye-contact, and should allow for comments or discussion. Repetition is important when presenting technical details, since these learners will gloss over details. Instead they like to learn about ideas and values and consider them from all points of view. These students make quick impressions, and then later confirm these hunches with facts. Dolphins are high academic achievers. They learn to read quickly, and are good speakers and writers and communicators. As students, Dolphin learners will enjoy assignments which involve creativity, rather than repetition and drill. Fun activities for them include writing a play, recording a story, or acting in dramatizations. These students are very sensitive about their creations; to reject their project is to reject them. Dolphins put a lot of time and effort into maintaining relationships with others. They are sensitive and sympathetic and will go out of their way to avoid hurting the feelings of others. In a class of thirty-two students, approximately twelve percent will be Dolphins (Golay, Learning, 39).
Dolphins in the piano studio will be well-motivated achievers if they have a good relationship with the teacher. They use music as a form of self-expression. They are likely to create a beautiful lyric line rather than fast technical passages. Because Dolphins like to form personal relationships, one way to interest them in a piece of music is to teach them a little about the composer.
Determining Learning Styles
Once the teacher understands the different learning styles, she should discover where each student fits within those styles. When determining learning styles, the teacher should remember the following:
1. Personalities do not confirm completely to one type of another. One can display behaviors of each type of some degree.
2. Behavioral patterns can change.
A teacher can determine students' personality types by administering personality tests such as the Learning Pattern Assesssment, or can interview prospective students and parents. The teacher should be able to identify a student's learning style by asking open-ended questions such as the following:
1. How does this student follow instructions? Does he do what he is told? If not, what does he do instead?
2. What is the student interested in? What does he do with his spare time? What is his favorite activity?
3. Does the student like school? What is his favorite subject? Does he get along with his teachers?
Ape parents typically give responses similar to the following:
He seems to find a way to get out of doing stuff he's told to do. He's always coming up with excuses. He never pays attention, and he does not ask for permission to do things. He always seems to be playing. He like to be outside doing something like skateboarding or playing hockey. He likes sports or getting into trouble being someplace he shouldn't. If he can't find anything to do he seems to create problems. Recess is his favorite subject. And art- when the art teacher lets him paint or make something with clay. He gets bored with school. He never does any homework- except for once, when a teacher showed him how to make a firecracker in chemistry class (Golay, Staying 155-157).
Bear parents will probably convey the following about their child:
He's really a terrific helper, always does his chores, and really takes responsibility seriously. I know if I ask him to feed the dog or cut the lawn it will get done. He really likes baseball, and already knows all the rules. He collects baseball cards and knows all the statistics. I don't know how he manages to memorize everything like he does. He also loves Boy Scouts. He's good at arithmetic and spelling. He also enjoys typing. Actually, he's a pretty good student, very conscientious about his homework. Other kids are always trying to borrow his class notes because he gets good grades. He says he wants to major in business administration when he goes to college (Golay, Staying 155-157).
Owl parents will offer explanations similar to the following:
He's good about following directions, but he wants to know why he has to do something. Once I give a reasonable explanation as to why I need his help and why it needs to be done in a particular way he does what is asked. However, if he thinks there is a better way to do something he tells me, and he's usually right. He's always got his nose in a book. Or else he's building something or taking something apart. Often he's out in the garage working on some project. He likes to do experiments, and to invent stuff. You should see the tree house he built when he was ten. Now he's trying to build his own computer. Science is his favorite subject. I remember he was fascinated with dinosaurs after the museum trip and wanted to learn all about them. He likes math too. If he's interested in a subject he can really get into it, but sometimes he gets off on his own projects and loses interest in school work. He thinks he has to know everything (Golay, Staying 155-157).
Dolphin parents are apt to respond with statements such as the following:
He is usually helpful and does what I request. But if he is busy with something he usually wants to complete it before going on to another task. He doesn't like to be disrupted from an activity he enjoys doing. When he is done however he will do what I ask particularly if I say "I am really busy and need your help". Then he seems to want to please me. He loves fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons. He gets on the Internet and plays games for hours. He enjoys music videos and building things with his dad's wood working tools. You can't keep him off the phone. He's always talking to friends. He likes to see his friends at school. He gets along well with everybody, and did outstanding in social studies because his teacher asked him to make a speech about the environment in front of the school. Now he wants to write for the school paper (Golay, Staying 155-157).
After completing the interview, the teacher should be able to determine the student's learning pattern. While discovering the students' learning styles is an important step toward effective teaching, it is also important for the teacher to understand her own learning style as well. Any teacher is very likely to teach a skill or concept in the style that she would prefer to learn that skill or concept; this works well if it matches the students' learning styles. However, it is also important to know what learning styles are not compatible with the teaching style.
Ape teachers prefer more advanced students. They stay away from beginners unless they show great potential. These teachers often have their students do recitals, performances, and other hands-on experiences. They often demonstrate the techniques being taught. Ape teachers require their students to be independent.
Bear teachers are usually traditionalists. They focus on helping students grasp the basics. They think that each student should understand the rules. Bear teachers expect students to sit quietly, pay attention, practice and arrive at lessons prepared.
Owl teachers have great technical knowledge. They don't impose outrageous rules on students, rather owl teachers focus on developing the capabilities of each student. They help students identify problems, and develop a plan to correct these problems.
Dolphin teachers are always looking to bring out the best in each student. They try to help each student find a way to express himself through music. Dolphin teachers have high expectations for each student, and usually students will try to meet the teachers' expectations.
Up next... The Learning Environment, The Teacher's Roles, Teaching Strategies, and Conclusions.
Thanks for reading! Now go practice!
is a professional pianist, teacher, singer, and Music Director currently residing in Snohomish, Washington. She is the Director of Music at Peace Lutheran Church in Monroe, WA, and also teaches private piano, voice and ukulele lessons at The ARK in Snohomish, WA.