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What Are Different Learner Types?

Arts-integration educators understand that learning is both a social and emotional experience. Thus, they focus on classwide engagement in arts activities to improve social skills and emotional literacy.

Learning through art – as is the method in an arts academy middle school/high school – introduces information to students in a digestible way while fostering lifelong abilities. 

But the ways each student best responds to teaching are different. That’s why teaching to different learner types is a crucial component of arts-integrated education. 

George Nelson and Nexus Teaching

Many educators are familiar with the concept of Nexus teaching. It was first introduced in 2006 in the book, Breaking the Learning Barrier for Underachieving Students. Troubled by the ways in which conventional teaching failed to meet the educational needs of every student,  author George Nelson developed five principles of teaching that expand the reach to all students.

According to the book, teaching in the nexus includes the following principles:

  • Allow choice
  • Enjoy the humor of life
  • Do the unexpected
  • Relate to the values of the students
  • Elevate thought

It turns out that arts-integrated teaching strategies are well-designed for teaching in the Nexus.

Teaching to Different Learner Types

Utilizing art as a means for teaching other subjects, every arts educator hopes his or her students learn five essential skills in the classroom that will extend into their lives outside the classroom. Known as the 5Cs, they are critical thinking, collaboration, character, citizenship, and communication.

For students to grasp these concepts and make crucial connections, teachers need to meet each student’s unique learning style. To simplify this, Nelson created a color-coded classification system. A student’s emotional capacities and social abilities are laid out within each color. From there, guidance is offered on the optimal way to reach the students in that color group. 

They are as follows:


Gold learners are the most successful with conventional learning. They thrive on structure and order, are obedient to authority, observe rules, and are motivated by getting good grades. They are responsible and hardworking and love clear details and deadlines. These are students who excel at traditional testing methods. 

For these students, teachers need to create a structured learning environment. Workspaces should be neat and orderly. Educators succeed when they focus on mandated standards and objectives while relying on traditional grading methods. 


The blue learner wants to know that the teacher cares. They are less interested in the amount of knowledge the educator has and put a premium instead on the relationship with the teacher. They like being part of a team and thrive on assignments that utilize their creativity. Any sense of conflict or competition causes them to recoil.

Teachers reach blue learners by nurturing them and fostering one-on-one interactions. This requires coming up with creative and individualized instructional approaches that focus on feelings and emphasize educating the whole student. Grading for effort is as important as for achievement. 


The analytical and logical thinkers in the classroom are categorized as green learners. These students value competence and often learn best in solitude. They are independent, unique, and bored with busy work. They’d much rather delve deeply into the areas that interest them. 

Arts educators seek to inspire and develop the intellect of their green learning students. They favor projects that encourage scientific exploration and research and encourage divergent thinking. Green learners require educators to maintain a high level of content knowledge and subject competency.  


Sometimes branded the class clown, orange learners are always on the lookout for fun and excitement. They love to learn through movement and can be impulsive and disorganized. They like anything that smacks of competition and are motivated to win if offered tangible rewards.  

For orange learners, teachers are most successful when they create interactive and hands-on learning environments. Students do well when there are plenty of busy and varied activities and teachers use negotiation and humor to deal with discipline issues. A less traditional approach to grading and course content is also needed.

What Type of Learner Is Your Child?

Understanding and teaching to different learner types is one of the foundations of arts-integrated education.

So if your child does not respond well to conventional education methods, he/she/they may thrive in an arts academy middle school or high school. Contact us today to request a tour of our school.

And see firsthand how arts educators train the next generation of innovative and creative artists who will contribute to society, culture, and the economy in exciting new ways. 


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