Working with adults, no problem!

2012-03-02 09.33.04

So you have to work with an adult learner, and you have some concerns.  Below is a comparison of the learning characteristics of adult learners and youth learners adapted from Rochester Institute of Technology. Of course, these are generalizations with exceptions occurring in each group of learners, but you may want to keep these differences in mind as you consider the learner population you will be working with.

Adult Learners Youth Learners

Problem-centered; seek educational solutions to where they are compared to where they want to be in life

Subject-oriented; seek to successfully complete each learning task, regardless of how the task relates to their own goals

Results-oriented; have specific results in mind for education - will drop out if education does not lead to those results because their participation is usually voluntary

Future-oriented; youth education is often a mandatory or an expected activity in a youth's life and designed for the youth's future

Self-directed; typically not dependent on others for direction

Often depend on adults for direction

Often skeptical about new information; prefer to try it out before accepting it

Likely to accept new information without trying it out or seriously questioning it

Seek education that relates or applies directly to their perceived needs that is timely and appropriate for their current lives

Seek education that prepares them for an often unclear future; accept the postponed application of what is being learned

Accept responsibility for their own learning if learning is perceived as timely and appropriate

Depend on others to design their learning; reluctant to accept responsibility for their own learning

In summary, adult learners usually approach learning differently than younger learners:

  • They are more self-guided in their learning.
  • They bring more, and expect to bring more, to a learning situation because of their wider experience - and can take more away.
  • They require learning "to make sense" - they will not perform a learning activity just because you said to do it.

A Lesson from Haiti

From Haiti to America

If you were on planet earth this week, you have been exposed to the heart-wrenching devastation in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, Haiti. I can't stop thinking about the agony and bewilderment those people are going through. I also can't stop thinking about how foreign those experiences are to me here in America. Many Americans are watching a nation brought to their knees crying out for help on our HD flat screen televisions. Sure we are probably tearing up while trying to get involved in the aid effort after praying for the people. Or we may just be watching in utter amazement. Regardless of what we are doing, what should we be learning from this?

Taking Things for Granted

I have been really trying to wrap my brain around this question for the last two days. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so what can I learn from this? Could this just be an exercise in all peoples coming together as one human race to help out those in a time of need? I don't think so. Could this be an opportunity to look at what I have in life and learn to appreciate it? Again, I don't think so? So what could the lesson be? Why such devastation? Maybe the lesson here is to look at the how we spend our time. Yes, I said how we spend our time! Now hear me out on this. We are living in a materialistic world with an insatiable appetite for more wealth, goods, attention, and pleasure. Even when we think we are living modestly, when we compare ourselves to nations like Haiti, we are living the high life. It is time we start living each as though each day we breathe in peace, it is the most important day in our lives. We need to surround ourselves with the things that matter most and spend our time doing things that truly enrich the meaning of one's life. Now I am sure the Haitian people did not think that their last day on earth would come so soon, but who really knows when it is their last day. So let's walk away from this life-changing event with something that really means something. Let's live each day like it could be our last and pursue those things that positively impact in this world.