Research by indicates some interesting principles on adult learning (Andragogy). The following is a summary by of the research and the way in which the Academy approaches this issue in practice with its adult students.
The Academy’s students are typically between 25 and 35 and are fully employed. They follow a part-time, open distance , undergraduate programme.
Adults are self-directed as far as learning is concerned, but there is a catch.
Adults have developed a self-concept as being responsible for their own lives as well as the need to be perceived and treated by others as capable in doing so. When it comes to learning, they want to determine their own learning needs, outcomes, styles and methods.
Here is the catch – when these adults encounter an education situation they tend to hark back to their conditioning from school days. They assume a dependant role and demand to be taught.
Unfortunately the more they are treated as juvenile dependent learners the bigger the conflict that ensues with their adult need to be self-directed and responsible adults. The outcome, rather than learning, is that most of their energy is spent on dealing with this inner conflict. This conflict model can be particularly evident in the Academy’s situation where the last educational experience, for the majority of these students, was the school benches.
The Academy therefore takes great care not to avoid the conflict between the self-directed vs dependant model. Our lecturers facilitate rather than teach and it taps into avoiding this adult-juvenile conflict. We introduce the concept of Kiducation to explain the role of lecturers. In essence it comes down to the fact that we are not in kids’ education:
- part-time distance learning does not allow the time for endless lecturing, that is a luxury available to full time students of all ages, mostly juveniles
- we do not teach we facilitate
- students must not kid themselves about the effort it will take to achieve the qualification – nothing of real value is for free (except salvation)
- as self-directed adults, students take full responsibility for their own learning needs, study methods and achieving the outcomes, and
- the Academy’s role is to empower students to achieve a qualification.
It is the Academy’s view that clarity about the educational philosophy of the institution and the facilitative role of lecturers, is key to successful learning.
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