Learning with Adults
For Hindu mythology The Goddess of Knowledge is Saraswati who also functions as the goddess of music , arts and learning . She is the wife of Brahma , the Hindu creator god and is a member of the Tridevi , the 3 central Hindu goddesses , along with Lakshmi , the goddess of prosperity and wealth and Parvati , the goddess of love and devotion .
I found myself engaged in a creative conversation about adult learning. Not surprising really!
I was chatting with another adult educator who told me categorically that she could tell people who taught children because of how they spoke to her. She felt that adult teachers of children spoke down to other adults. She then explained why trainers educate the adult learner more effectively. She feels that trainers facilitate learning, they do not teach or lecture.
I was confused. I opted not to question, but rather to ponder.
I believe there is an increasing divide between the recognition of a trainer and a teacher. Both professionals are facilitators of learning. Each professional will bring their own talents and gifts to the classroom. Each have studied the art and science of teaching and learning. Each undertake professional development of the art and science of teaching and learning, annually.
There seems to be a missing link. The roles of teaching experts are different, but the same.
Innovation and change are responses to our shifting world, industry and education. Lifelong learning has become a progressively important strategy for success in our society, and recognised qualifications are becoming increasingly valued (Dempsey, 2013). It is important that Australia, as a nation, gets this right.
Research suggests there are several forces driving adults to undertake education (Atkinson, 2014; Choy & Delahaye, 2003; Knowles, 1970; Simons, 2009; Tannehill, 2009). Atkinson & Hargreaves (2014) propose that it is personal priorities and family commitments that motivate most labor market decisions. Tannehill (2009) identify adults as the fastest growing population group in higher education, listing the need for academic credentials for career advancement, life transition, career change, seeking employment or for the sake of education as reasons that drive outcomes for adults undertaking education. Intriguingly, Wyman (2015) states that ‘61% of jobs advertised do not require a college degree’ accentuating the importance of the vocational education sector (p26). Quality vocational education is critical.
Safeguarding quality vocational education that is responsive to industry creates challenges for VET practitioners. VET practitioners are dual professionals working in a tripartisan arrangement with students and industry (Dempsey, 2013). VET practitioners need to respond to the emerging skills demanded from industry so that new workers are appropriately qualified, existing worker’s knowledge and skills are updated and those students who need support are given the right assistance so that goals can be achieved ( Beddie , 2015) ( Dempsey, 2013). The VET practitioner role is complicated.
The teacher’s role is complicated. It requires a whole person approach including family, food, friends and curriculum. To start education from a blank slate requires a team approach. Teachers in our primary education system need to collaborate, plan and comply with benchmark standards to deliver sustainable and engaging learning.
The one great downfall within our education systems is that the sectors do not talk to each other. It is disjointed. Trainers and teachers need to work together and learn from and with one another. Children and adults learn for different reasons, but an adult in education is not there for the same reason as the student sitting next to him.
Teachers who teach the individual student from a whole person approach increase the chances of success. This is independent of age. Teach the person, collaborate with others and take an active role in your own continuous education – it is a wise investment.