Nine Types of Learners: The Perfectionist

Welcome to our series on the nine different types of learners that lies at the heart of Story-Based Learning. Every learner is different and needs tailored conditions if they are to learn and grow to their full potential. Over the next nine weeks we’ll be highlighting a different type of student and the ways that they approach the world.  

Meet Percy and Prunella. Straight-backed, neat hair, ironed uniforms. They speak with confidence, often with serious or unemotional tones. 

These students are focused, disciplined and hard-workers. Rules are comforting to them and they abide by them with precision. At times they can come across as critical or a little haughty, but in their hearts they just want to get it right. 

They value integrity and are dismayed when others cut corners or fudge the truth. Mistakes are scary territory and intolerable. Details are important. Being organised is crucial. They don’t like to be wrong and will push back if it comes to a power struggle.

What you may not know about Percy and Prunella is that they have a strong internal scorecard with which they are constantly trying to measure up. They believe, whether they realise it or not, that the path to acceptance – to love – is by being perfect. 

Learning Style

Percy and Prunella love learning when it follows a clear and logical manner. Step-by-step is their approach. They work well to deadlines and appreciate schedules. Note taking helps order their thoughts and they thrive when distilling abstract concepts into practical processes. 

At times, they can struggle with perfectionism. Their clear view of how things ‘could be’ can get in the way of how life is, leading to procrastination. 

Preparation is key. Don’t ask Percy or Prunella to ‘wing it’ or give them too many options. They operate under a constant fear of getting it wrong, so the investment into research and discovery helps ground them. 

Environment

Percy and Prunella thrive in a structured environment with clear authority and established guidelines. They like knowing in advance, so that they can prepare accordingly. 

These students are responsible but they don’t like having to pick up the slack for others who don’t do their work (this is just a recipe for resentment). They will pull their weight admirably if there are clear rules and expectations. 

When Percy and Prunella get going, they are unstoppable with an incredible sense of focus. They are natural teachers and can be great role models for those who desire to improve themselves. 

Tips 

If you have a Percy or a Prunella in your life, you can help them in the following ways:

  1. Learn to see their criticism of those around them as a reminder of their harsh standards towards themselves. Help them learn to give themselves grace and relax their impossible standards. 
  2. Help them to have fun. This is difficult for them but they will grow by learning to let pleasure in. 
  3. Remember details – these are important. If you say you will do something, do it. 
  4. Respect their contributions. The amount of thought and effort that goes into each action is worth remembering as these students don’t do anything lightly. 
  5. When they make a mistake, be there for them without criticising. They will be doing more than enough of that internally. Model self-compassion.

Most importantly, love the child you have, not the child you wish you had. Each child has something precious to offer – a gift that illuminates the world and brings life. Help them see that they are worthy of unconditional love and that their presence in the universe is crucial – just as they are. 

This type of learner has been based upon Type 1 of the Enneagram (or ‘The Perfectionist’). If you wish to delve more deeply into the psychology of the Enneagram, follow the links above.

As the journey of self discovery is one best enjoyed by each individual, we suggest that you use this as an internal guide for yourself, rather than telling your children which type you think they might be. We do understand that each person is utterly unique and there will be variations within each type, but we have found this typology the most helpful for getting a basic understanding of human behaviour and motivation.


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