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Adult Education

Instructor as Learner


Watch your step! Under Construction.
'No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it; we must learn to see the world anew.'
- Albert Einstein -

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Mezirow lists three types of reflection (P.*, Cranton):

In order for an educator to develop, it is important to move beyond the mere acquisition of new knowledge and toward questioning existing assumptions, values, and perspectives. In this section, some suggestions to begin this process will be provided.


Content of Your Courses

Postmodernism is an attitude or perspective that is seen more and more often. An educator preparing for the future should begin confronting her/his own feelings about this view of the world which allows for multiple perspectives, multiple ways of knowing, and willingness to accept contradiction. For those of us in the sciences, unwillingness to confront this view of the world may leave us unable to respond to the challenges of young adults.

The Gender and Ethnicity section of this site has a collection of information on women's ways of knowing.

  • There are many recipes or outlines for instructional design. A useful one to consider is Jane Vella's Seven Steps of Planning(P. 23-28, Vella). Unline many instructional design recipes, it focuses on the learner rather than the instructor.
    1. WHO: Who are the learners? Look at learners' needs assessments, cultural perspectives, and immediate needs regarding the topic. Ask the question 'Who needs What as defined by Whom?' (Dr. Thomas Hutchinson)
    2. WHY: What is the problem this course must solve and why are the learners attending?
    3. WHEN: Is the time convenient for the learners?
    4. WHERE: Is the course situated in the best place to meet the needs of the learners or could a better place be found? (It is important to keep in mind the idea of cultural access and barriers to college.)
    5. WHAT FOR: What are the achievement-based objectives (verbs) and why should the learners want to participate?
    6. WHAT: What is being committed to (nouns) and will be presented? This is a framework, not a boundary.
    7. HOW: How will the material be presented? What is the best way to present the material given the information from #1 above? Will the instructor play an active role or simply act as a resource?
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    Process- Teaching Methods

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    Premise - Determining your Assumptions and Beliefs

    Personal Philosophy
    One of the biggest challenges facing a facilitator of adult learning is understanding your personal philosophy about your discipline. John Dewey, a key adult educator, said the central factor in all reflective or intellectual thinking is to be able to discriminate between those things that are based on beliefs and those based on evidence (P79, Cranton). (ways to do this: p83,cranton;) Not everyone has to agree with your style or beliefs but you should be able to defend them if challenged (P.10, Galbraith). If you've never thought about the assumptions you make about your profession, you may assume you aren't making any. However, many post-modern feminists consider knowledge to be the result of invention, or imposition, of form on the world. They are not alone in this belief. Those interested in the spirituality of teaching take a similar viewpoint and claim our teaching style is a composite of our values, beliefs, and attitudes. Education is not neutral and value-free (P.26, Zinn). For the educator willing to consider this perspective, it is important to look at the topics we teach and the order in which we teach them. We need to examine them for assumptions and consider the possibility of plurality and difference.(P.45, Braidottie et al)

    Personal Values
    Clarifying our values will give us a clearer picture of our situatedness. In her article, Lorraine Zinn suggests several inventories for clarifying teaching values and beliefs. (Note: ADD THOSE!) It may be impossible to articulate assumptions without the help of others. Our techniques are a product of our experiences as learners, our values, knowledge og teaching and learnier, our experiences as an educator, etc. (P. 82-93, Cranton) (Note: see Brookfield for some specific methods.) However, the following offers an attempt at self-evaluation:

    Answer these two questions before reading any further:
    1) Identify aspects of student behavior that annoy or irritate you. If possible, provide specific examples.
    2) Identify aspects of your role as instructor which you fear and/or feel quilty about. If possible, provide specific examples.
    By answering these questions about your relationship with learners it may be possible to get behind and beyond your ideal vision of learner/instructor interaction. Looking critically at your answers can give an indication of your teaching type. They may help you to honestly see who is setting the terms of participation, content, and process. They may also help you see your areas of concern such as feeling underprepared, out of control, or too controlling (P.180-184, Tennant, et al.). Once you understand your areas of concern, you can begin to address them.

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    Bibliography


    Braidotti, Rosi, Ewa Charkiewicz, Sabine Hausler, Saskia Wieringa, Women, the Environment, and Sustainable Environment, Zed Books, London, 1994.

    Brookfield, Stephen D., The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1990.

    Cranton, Patricia, Professional Development as Transformative Learning, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1996.

    Galbraith, Michael W., Nine Principles of Good Facilitation. Adult Learning: April 1992, P10-.
    Several excellent tips for facilitating adult learning are included in this article.

    Tennant, Mark, and ? Pogson,Learning and Change in the Adult Years. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1995.

    Vella, Jane.Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Franscisco, 1994. This small handbook on instructional design has many examples of applications to teaching women and teaching internationally.

    Zinn, Lorraine M.,Spirituality in Adult Education. Adult Learning: Vol. 8, #5 & 6, P.26.

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    Last edited: 12/03/97
    Send comments and suggestions to Roberta S. Lacefield
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