The tactile approach to teaching and learning targets the abilities and needs of students who learn more effectively through action and direct experience. Such tactile or kinesthetic learners find it difficult and uninspiring to acquire knowledge while seated and passively listening to auditory lessons. Instead, they learn best when they are actively engaged in exploration and discovery—especially when their tactile senses are involved, for instance, in touching, examining, or manipulating new objects or when using their hands to communicate. Whereas other learners function better when they think before initiating action, tactile learners think and reach realizations when they are already in action. The tactile approach therefore recognizes that for a significant proportion of students learning is most effective when it involves doing rather than hearing or reading.
The tactile approach has numerous potential applications today, especially in elementary schools where untold numbers of students struggle to acquire basic skills and knowledge through conventional teaching methods that are woefully unsuited to their abilities and needs. Using insights derived from the tactile approach, educators could enhance the classroom experience for such students by incorporating multisensory learning experiences. Well-developed theory and research on learning styles by experts such as Howard Gardner support the integration of the tactile approach with more visual and auditory teaching approaches to provide more balanced curricula and programs that stimulate the interests and skills of young learners with diverse styles and needs.