Adults can Learn!
In recent years, more attention has been placed on the Adult Learning principles. Lawler & King (2000) published a book on developing better faculty based on the Adult Learning Theories. Backed with research, they delineated 6 key principles to integrate when teaching adults (p21):
- Create a Climate of Respect
- Encourage Active Participation
- Build on Experiences
- Employ Collaborative inquiry
- Learn for Action
- Empower Participants
At the end of the day, adults are stimulated to learn when they can contribute to the class “pot of knowledge”.
Because there is a difference in how children and adults learn, we must differentiate which methods will work best in each context. Rarely do adults sit down and read a thick manual to learn everything about how a new DVD player works; rather, they usually pick up the manual when ther’s a problem to solve. More precisilely, adults read the specific section they need in order to fix wahatver is borken or to acoomplish a task, such as recording from one disc to another.
Since Adults are often unmotivated to learn facts in a vacuum, a skillful teacher will create a context of learning. Some research suggests that adults are motivated by problem solving or addressing an issue of concern, especially when the stakes are high – most adults are highly motivated to find a SOLUTION. For instance, a Christian who ordinarily has little interest in in-depth Bible Study may become motivated to research what Scripture says about marriage and divorce when facing the possibility of divorce.
In the church context, before adults will be motivated to study a topic, they typically need to understand the problem that needs to be addressed. We are much more motivated when we have a clear NEED TO KNOW, so a good educational approach with adults will “problematize” the issues and help learners see what is at stake. (adapted from Leadership Baton, pg 194)
For more details on Adult Learning Theory, check out this site: