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What Is it Like to Be a 3-D Learner?

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Dec 18, 2019

Sensory Thinker

Simply stated a 3-D learner is someone who primarily learns and thinks through their senses. Part of what makes a 3-D learner function so well in the world’s environment or day-to-day tasks is their constant use of the senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell, balance and rhythm to adapt to and figure out for himself what is going on or needs to be done to achieve the goals at hand.

A 3-D learner experiences with their senses what they see, experience with their senses what they hear, experience with their senses, what they read, experience with their senses, what another says to them - instead of noticing and thinking about it from the distance of logical thought. Their thinking is primarily sensory and holistic (seemingly intuitive), not logical and linear (deductive) like the majority of their friends.

While a 3-D learner reads, they run a movie or audiotape of what they are reading. As long as they can recognize the words and they fit with their running movie or tape, the story makes sense to them. When they meet words that they do not recognize, they may hesitate, substitute words, misread words, or skip words or lines. If this interruption happens too often while reading, they lose a sense (literally loses their sensory experience) of the meaning of the story they are reading. They have to start again from the beginning to build a new sensory experience of the story of the text. 3-D learners, therefore, often have to read, reread, and reread material in order to understand it.

Memorizing does not lead to Comprehension

When the 3-D learner is young, they might learn to memorize and then be able to seem to read words, particularly abstract words, that they have never understood. They sound to everyone listening to them as though they can read. However, they are unable to build a sensory experience of the words that they are reading out loud, and they cannot tell you the details of what they have just read. Or, they might give you an entirely different story, one that fits the sensory experience that they did have while reading the words they could recognize!

Written Abstract Words and Symbols

Flat, 2-dimensional abstract words, letters and punctuation marks make learning to read fluidly with comprehension very difficult for the 3-D learner. Abstract words and symbols have no associated sensory meaning, like concrete words have! Abstract words and symbols do not stimulate the senses so they can be understood with sensory experiences. If mastery of abstract symbols and words is missing in the 

education of the young 3-D learner, then they are likely to have repeated failures in reading. What comes tumbling down is their willingness, desire, confidence and ability to read. 

The 3-D learner needs tools to help them learn to make abstract words into something they can experience with their senses. Once they master the 300 abstract words that are read in grades K-5, they have a chance to learn to read like their peers and read to learn in school. By eliminating the confusion associated with abstract words and symbols, the reader can function in the academic world just like they function naturally in the environment around them. Then, they can function, and even become competitive, in a world that is filled largely with logical thinkers and readers who think differently than they think.

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