I hope you are doing well.
I also hope that you have been able to start your personal “Work In Progress” project. Please keep in mind, this is a work-in-progress. I have deliberately avoided putting the sorts of restrictions on you in a way that you would begin to think of your project as a task to get completed for a grade. The intention is to enter into a personal adult learning situation so that you can begin to reflect on the course content as articulated in the lectures and see how the ideas of adult learning might apply to your own personal learning experiences. Please know that you might find yourself launching into one area of study and then transitioning into something that interests you. Interest is important and should be honored. I hope you have found something interesting enough that you can’t wait to spend some time learning more about the topic. I hope you are so interested in your topic that you want to learn more, or that you feel changed in some way as a result of engaging in the content. I suppose you have already picked up that I am going through some of Postman’s and Weingartner’s objectives here. These are important, I believe, because they not only reflect some of the ideas inherent in project-based and experiential learning but they also reflect some of the objectives that have been granted to adult learners more often than younger learners.
Let me share with you the passage from Postman’s and Weingartner’s book, Teaching as a Subversive Activity that speaks to these objectives. I think you will appreciate the connection to adult learning even though the book was written with younger school students in mind.
What’s Worth Knowing? From Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s book Teaching as a Subversive Activity
Suppose all the syllabi and curricula and textbooks in the schools disappeared. Suppose all of the standardized tests – citywide, statewide and national – were lost. In other words, suppose that the most common material impeding innovation in the schools simply did not exist. Then suppose that you decided to turn this ‘catastrophe’ into an opportunity to increase the relevance of the schools. What would you do?
We have a possibility for you to consider: suppose that you decide to have the entire ‘curriculum’ consist of questions. These questions would have to be worth seeking answers to not only from your point of view but, more importantly, from the point of view of the students. In order to get still closer to reality, add the requirement that the questions must help the students to develop and internalize concepts that will help than to survive in the rapidly changing world of the present and future.
Obviously, we are asking you to suppose you were an educator living in the second half of the twentieth century. What questions would you have on your list?
Take a pencil and list your questions on the next page, which we have left blank for you. Please do not be concerned about defacing our book, unless, of course, one of your questions is going to be ‘What were some of the ways of earning a living in Ancient Egypt?’ In that case, use your own paper.
Now, if one of your questions was something like ‘Why should you answer someone else’s questions?’, then you undoubtedly realize that we will submit our own sample list with some misgivings. As we have said, the ecology of the inquiry environment requires that the students play a central, but not necessarily exclusive, role in framing questions that they deem important. Even the most sensitive teacher cannot always project himself into the perspective of his students, and he dare not assume that they necessarily share his perception of reality. With this limitation in mind, we can justify the list we will submit on several grounds. First, many of these questions have literally been asked by children and adolescents when they were permitted to respond freely to the challenge of ‘What’s worth knowing?’ Second, some of these questions are based on our careful listening to students even though they were not at the time asking questions Very often children make declarative statements about things when they really mean only to elicit an informative response. In some cases, they do this because they have learned from adults that it is ‘better’ to pretend that you know than to admit that you don’t (An old aphorism describing this process goes: children enter school as question marks and leave as periods). In other cases they do this because they do not know how to ask certain kinds of questions In any event, a simple translation of their declarative utterances will sometimes produce a great variety of deeply felt questions.
Our final justification rests with our own imagination. We have framed – as we asked you to do – some questions, which, in our judgment, are responsive to the actual and immediate as against the fancied and future needs of learners in the world as it is (not as it was). In this, we have not surveyed thousands of students, but have consulted with many, mostly in junior and senior high school. We have tried variations of these questions with children in primary grades. By and large, the response was enthusiastic – and serious. There seemed to be little doubt that, from the point of view of the students, these questions made much more sense than the ones they usually have to memorize the right answers to in school. At this point, it might be worth noting that our list of questions is intended to ‘educate’ students. Contrary to conventional school practice, what that means is that we want to elicit from students the meanings that they have already stored up so that they may subject those meanings to testing and verifying, reordering and reclassifying, modifying, and extending process. In this process, the student is not a passive ‘recipient’; he becomes an active producer of knowledge. The word ‘educate’ is closely related to the word ‘educe’. In the oldest pedagogic sense of the term, this meant drawing out of a person something potential or latent. We can, after all, learn only in relation to what we already know. Again, contrary to common misconceptions, this means that if we don’t know very much, our capability for learning is not very great. This idea – virtually by itself – requires a major revision in most of the metaphors that shape school policies and procedures.
Reflect on these questions – and others that these can generate. Please do not merely react to them.
What do you worry about most?
What are the causes of your worries? Can any of your worries be eliminated? How? Which of them might you deal with first? How do you decide? Are there other people with the same problems? How do you know? How can you find out? If you had an important idea that you wanted to let everyone (in the world) know about, how might you go about letting them know? What bothers you most about adults? Why? How do you want to be similar to or different from adults you know when you become an adult? What, if anything, seems to you to be worth dying for? How did you come to believe this? What seems worth living for? How did you come to believe this? At the present moment, what would you most like to be – or be able to do?
Why? What would you have to know in order to be able to do it? What would you have to do in order to get to know it?
How can you tell ‘good guys’ from ‘bad guys’? How can ‘good’ be distinguished from ‘evil’? What kind of a person would you most like to be? How might you get to be this kind of person? At the present moment, what would you most like to be doing? Five years from now? Ten years from now? Why? What might you have to do to realize these hopes? What might you have to give up in order to do some or all of these things?
When you hear or read or observe something, how do you know what it means?
Where does meaning ‘come from’? What does ‘meaning’ mean? How can you tell what something ‘is’ or whether it is? Where do words come from? Where do symbols come from? Why do symbols change? Where does knowledge come from? What do you think are sane of man’s most important ideas? Where did they come from? Why? How? Now what? What’s a ‘good idea’? How do you know when a good or live idea becomes a bad or dead idea? Which of man’s ideas would we be better off forgetting? How do you decide?
What is ‘progress’? What is ‘change’? What are the most obvious causes of change? What are the least apparent?
What conditions are necessary in order for change to occur? What kinds of changes are going on right now? Which are important? How are they similar to or different from other changes that have occurred? What are the relationships between new ideas and change? Where do new ideas come from? How come? So what? If you wanted to stop one of the changes going on now (pick one), how would you go about it? What consequences would you have to consider?
Of the important changes going on in our society, which should be encouraged and which resisted? Why? How? What are the most important changes that have occurred in the past ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? In the last year? In the last six months? Last month? What will be the most important changes next month? Next year? Next decade? How can you tell? So what?
What would you change if you could? How might you go about it? Of those changes, which are going, to occur, which would you stop if you could? Why? How? So what?
Who do you think has the most important things to say today? To whom? How? Why?
What are the dumbest and more dangerous ideas that are ‘popular’ today? Why do you think so? Where did these ideas come from?
What are the conditions necessary for life to survive? Plants? Animals? Humans?
Which of these conditions are necessary for all life Which ones for plants? Which ones for animals? Which ones for humans? What are the greatest threats to all forms of life? To plants? To animals?
To humans? What are some of the ‘strategies’ living things use to survive’? Which unique to plants? Which unique to animals? Which unique to humans? What kinds of human survival strategies are (1) similar to those of animals and plants; (2) different from animals and plants? What does man’s language permit him to develop as survival strategies that animals cannot develop?
How might man’s survival activities be different from what they are if he did not have language? What other ‘languages’ does man have besides those consisting of words?
What functions do these ‘languages’ serve? Why and how do they originate? Can you invent a new one? How might you start?
What would happen, what difference would it make, what would man not be able to do if he had no number (mathematical) languages?
How many symbol systems does man have? How come? So what? What are some good symbols? Some bad? What good symbols could we use that we do not have? What bad symbols do we have that we’d be better off without? What’s worth knowing? How do you decide? What are some ways to go about getting to know what’s worth knowing?
It is necessary for us to say at once that these questions are not intended to present a catechism for the new education. These are samples and illustrations of the kinds of questions we think worth answering. Our set of questions is best regarded as a metaphor of our sense of relevance. If you took the trouble to list your own questions, it is quite possible that you prefer many of them to ours. Good enough. The new education is a process and will not suffer from the applied imaginations of all who wish to be a part of it. But in evaluating your own questions, as well as ours, bear in mind that there are certain standards that must be used. These standards may also be stated in the form of questions:
1) Will your questions increase the learner’s will as well as his capacity to learn?
2) Will they help to give him a sense of joy in learning?
3) Will they help to provide the learners with confidence in their ability to learn?
4) In order to get answers, will the learner be required to make inquiries? (Ask further questions, clarify terms, make observations, classify data, etc.?)
5) Does each question allow for alternative answers (which implies alternative modes of inquiry)
6) Will the process of answering the questions tend to stress the uniqueness of the learner?
7) Would the questions produce different answers if asked at different stages of the learner’s development?
8) Will the answers help the learner to sense and understand the universals in the human condition and so enhance his ability to draw closer to other people?
9) If the answers to these questions about your list of questions are all. Yes, then you are to be congratulated for insisting upon extremely high standards in education. If that seems an unusual compliment, it is only because we have all become accustomed to a conception and a hierarchy of standards that, in our opinion, is learner’s simultaneously upside-down and irrelevant We usually think of a curriculum as having high standards if it covers ground, requires much and difficult reading, demands many papers, and if the students for whom it is intended do not easily get ‘good’ grades.
This week I would like to direct you to a particular part of Malcolm Knowles’ The Adult Learner — Chapter 6 — The Andragogical Process Model.
I will bi-pass Chapter 5 but you can easily access that through our ebook portal (and I will link that chapter here). Let me explain why I am passing by this chapter:
While Chapter 5, Theories of Teaching is important because of the background and context they provide, the theories are somewhat dated in terms of what we now know with some of the latest neuroscience studies. Furthermore, many of you will already be well versed in the theories discussed in the chapter from your earlier studies in education. Even so, the chapter might be useful to some of you. You might find it useful to skim the chapter. That is up to you.
So, given that many of you will already be quite familiar with most of the theories already from your previous education studies. I will briefly summarize Chapter 5 here. Hopefully, this will save you some time.
A Brief Summary of Chapter Five
Knowles starts Chapter 5 by making a distinction between teaching theories and learning theories:
Theories of learning deal with the ways in which an organism learns, whereas theories of teaching deal with the ways in which a person influences an organism to learn. p. 73
Knowles goes on to outline the distinctions of teaching and learning articulated by Hilgard. These distinctions are based on Stimulus-Response (S-R) theory, cognitive theory, and motivation and personality theory. These distinctions were given because it was believed that they would be largely acceptable to everyone. If you are interested you can see a table listing these principles on page 74. And, if you do read them, you will find that they all sound very familiar and reasonable. They are, for a large part, what we have come to believe, or what we have been taught to believe, about teaching and learning. We get a smattering of stimulus-response, behaviorism, and motivation-based theories. He then goes on to examine the ways that animal studies and children studies support these theories, and how these animal/child studies might inform adult learning. We hear about Gagne’s work — something very influential in the way we learned to structure our own lessons in the past.
Knowles then, on page 84, considers how teaching might differ when we consider adult learning rather than child learning. And we do see a difference. We get the inclusion of Rogers’ ideas of facilitation (teacher as facilitator), Maslow (you recall his hierarchy of needs), Houle (situational learning), and Tough’s ideas of the importance of caring and helping. On page 92 Knowles discusses Dewey’s contributions to the ideas of experiential learning, democracy, continuity and interaction, and inquiry. Bruner (discovery can cooperative learning) and Bandura (modeling) also make the cut.
Finally, Knowles incorporates the idea of Change Theory and system theories.
He summaries this chapter in this way:
SUMMARY: Theories of learning differ from theories of teaching. Various researchers have studied the topics of learning and teaching theories and the teaching/learning interaction. Consequently, a variety of theories exist about the nature of teaching and the teacher’s role. Gage recognizes the distinction between the two theoretical frameworks, and asserts that learning theories address methods of learning, whereas teaching theories address the methods employed to influence learning. Understandably, there is a strong correlation between learning and teaching theories: the learning theory(ies) adopted by the teacher affect the teaching theory(ies) employed. Both learning theories and teaching theories have played a prominent role in the research efforts, providing both principles of teaching and teaching concepts.
Hilgard’s contribution is the identification of a schema of 20 learning principles from stimulus-response, cognitive, and motivation and personality theories. He used prominent theorists with similar notions about the roles of teachers to validate his premise. These Theories of learning differ from theories of teaching. Various researchers have studied the topics of learning and teaching theories and the teaching/learning interaction. Consequently, a variety of theories exist about the nature of teaching and the teacher’s role. Gage recognizes the distinction between the two theoretical frameworks, and asserts that learning theories address methods of learning, whereas teaching theories address the methods employed to influence learning. Understandably, there is a strong correlation between learning and teaching theories: the learning theory(ies) adopted by the teacher affect the teaching theory(ies) employed. Both learning theories and teaching theories have played a prominent role in the research efforts, providing both principles of teaching and teaching concepts. Hilgard’s contribution is the identification of a schema of 20 learning principles from stimulus-response, cognitive, and motivation and personality theories. He used prominent theorists with similar notions about the roles of teachers to validate his premise. These included Thorndike, Guthrie, Skinner, Hull, Tolman, and Gagne, each an important contributor to the field.
Other theorists, including Rogers and Maslow, have focused on studies of adults in their research efforts. Their findings differ vastly from researchers who focused on animals and children. For instance, Rogers emphasizes the concepts of environment and facilitation in his explication of teaching—a sentiment with which Maslow would undoubtedly agree. The only exception is that Maslow would place an even greater emphasis on the teacher’s responsibility for providing safety. Watson, Houle, and Tough have also provided insight in this area of study.
Of the concepts derived from theories of teaching, Dewey’s are perhaps the most influential. His work resulted in the development of a system established on the concepts of experience, democracy, continuity, and interaction. It is Dewey’s conceptualization of scientific thinking, in conjunction with those of cognitive theorists, that spawned the discovery or inquiry method. Other contributors in this area include Bruner, Suchman, and Crutchfield.
Identification or modeling as concepts of teaching, the most elaborate system of thought or imitation, was developed by Bandura. In this system, role modeling is the teacher’s fundamental technique. Gage, analyzing the usefulness of the technique, states, “learning through imitation seems to be especially appropriate for tasks that have little cognitive structure.” Continued research efforts have resulted in new systems of thought. The value of teaching/learning as a tool to invoke critical thinking on the part of adults is an emerging concept: Mezirow calls this perspective transformation, and Brookfield calls it critical reflectivity. Another system of thought, drawing from field theory, systems theory, organizational development and consultation theories and ecological psychology, encompasses the ramifications of influencing the educative quality of total environments. (Knowles, Malcolm S., et al. The Adult Learner : The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Taylor & Francis Group, 2005.)
Now back to the point about these theories being a bit dated
I started by suggesting that the theorists Knowles uses in Chapter 5 are dated and even problematic in some ways. This is the reason why: These theories are based on a tabula rasa interpretation of the brain and learning. The theories are premised on the idea that there is an objective reality shared by teacher and student that can be given to a student (or a passive brain). The student can perceive a reality that is shared by the teacher. We have enough research now that puts these beliefs into doubt. I will talk more about this in the weeks to follow.
So, while Knowles’ does provide a nice discussion and summary of teaching and learning theories, I am sure you are already quite familiar with many of them. Furthermore, if these theories are losing their legitimacy because of our new understanding of the working of the brain, it seems less important to spend much time on these theories. Having said that, if you are planning on teaching in a college or university, it is important to know these theories well. So this might act as a nice refresher.
On to Chapter 6
Chapter 6 is more relevant to our purposes in this class. I have included a pdf of Chapter 6 here. I think you will find this chapter to be worth your time and effort to read. I think you will find it interesting because you will encounter a different group of theorists not typically referenced in our teacher education programs. These theorists deal more with creating climates conducive to learning — something that is emphasized in adult learning. You might also find this important and relevant if you are designing workshops, training environments, adult curriculum, or collaborative interactions. Knowles’s focus is more on process and environment here.
So for today’s response, I ask that you read this chapter, the Andragogical Process Model (below in blue) and answer the following questions.
Second Response Set:
Question 1: Please provide a brief summary of the main ideas of the Andragogical Process Model according to Knowles.
Question 2: Given your current understanding of adult education, would you please speak to aspects of the andragogical process model that you think are positive? Do you find anything to be problematic with the model?
Question 3: Now that you have begun your own adult learning project, how do you see the andragogical process model playing into your own work in progress?
Question 4: If you were to take your own adult learning project and develop it for a group of adult learners, how might you incorporate aspects of the Andragogical Process Model to facilitate your endeavor?
Now on to Experiential Learning
I would like to include some videos and articles on experiential learning. These will compliment your Chapter 6 reading. Even though these videos are geared toward young adults, the ideas are applicable to all ages (I think).
I begin with a talk given by Martin Henz. Primarily engineering examples for university-aged students, but easily considered for all ages. The question–one that I have often wondered about–is the question of scalability.
Is experiential learning scalable? | Martin Henz | TEDxNUS
Learning by doing?
Experiential Learning Is Not Learning By Doing – Facilitator Tips Episode 37
Please take note when he says, experiential learning is not the same as learning by doing. There is a necessary reflective component involved.
Ryerson University – Experiential Learning in China
Experiential Learning Stories: Anthropology 6
Experiential Learning Stories: Curricular Connections
Experiential Learning Stories: Dartmouth Vietnam Project
Experiential Learning Stories: Telling My Story
Experiential Learning and Simulation Center at Samford University’s College of Health Sciences
This video will provide you with some background into the theoretical aspects (and design) of experiential learning.
8 Things To Know About the Experiential Learning Cycle (FULL)
The Power of Experiential Learning
The Lasting Impacts of Experiential Learning
Experiential Learning at Harvard: How Field Study Unlocks Leadership Lessons
Research Articles on experiential learning
Although this next article speaks to middle school students, there is some good background that might be of value if your Master’s thesis involves experiential learning.
I hope you found some of these ideas useful and interesting. And I hope you feel as though you know a bit more about adult education that you did before we started.
Until next time, have a great week