'No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it; we must learn to see the world anew.'
- Albert Einstein -
Mezirow lists three types of reflection (P.*, Cranton):
The Gender and Ethnicity section of this site has a collection of information on women's ways of knowing.
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)
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.
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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