Adult Education: When Students Challenge You, Let Them
It is a sign of engagement and entertainment?
As strange as it may sound to some, it is important that adult students are engaged and entertained. There is no better way to engage and entertain a student than to encourage participation and let him or her speak freely!
Always maintain appropriate time-management and control of the class by providing class policy expectation beforehand and a venue/apparatius for students to ask questions about policy. There must be rules of engagement or guerilla tactics will certainly occur!
Avoid guerrilla warfare in the Classroom
Does this ring a bell?
You are sitting in a training meeting and the flow of discussion is going well. People are offering ideas and participation is all-inclusive. Someone throws a brick wall up called, "Okay no more comments, we gotta move on." You move on but the dynamic discussion stops.
Yes, it happens. There is nothing wrong with that depending on the setting. Meetings are timed and there are things to be covered. However, there is always a better way to keep the fire alive in the participants and cover the needed materials in a teaching setting no matter how much time is left. In this article will be discussed how students challenge instructors to instruct--how it is a good thing when that happens. It means they are learning.
About Adult Education
One of the most insecure types of instructors is the one who cannot stand discussion--dialogue, which is an excellent form of education. True education can occur when the student learns, and the instructor learns also. This, of course, applies mostly to adult educational settings.
WHY is that important?
Adults, generally those older than the age of 25 years, depend on their antidotal educational experiences, which are not incidental in the least and have general application in all societies. This life-experience learning occurs within every cultural array and consists of common cultural themes that apply to the majority of people within a cultural context.
Simple day-to-day communication learned in socialization and employment can provide insightful discussion and learning in a communications class at university or any learning setting.
Adults HATE lectures! Blah!
In contrast to pedagogy, or learning for children, andragogy, adult learning involves added value learning. Adults tend to learn ONLY what assists them with employment, life improvement or recreational pursuits--hobbies. They only seek out those things that add value to their lives within the subcontexts of their personal experiences.
Most people are adults, so most learning occurs at-will in the world. Instructors who understand the demographics of those whose education they will facilitate will find the most successful and rewarding careers in education.
Most adults WANT to receive the information from educational sources, so it is simple for instructors to provide the avenue to dispense it. Instructors must first provide key elements in their curricula to maximize the learning experience.
THEY Pay for the learning so that they will Learn!
Not that engagement and entertainment are so different, but for my purpose here we will separate them. The student already wants to learn the information because they have a vested interest in knowing what is being taught as has been listed previously, We get past the age of 25 and our brains change in a way that we become extremely selective learners.
Twenty-five years old or so is around the age that our frontal lobes in the brain are fully developed and learning becomes less about filling up the brain with information and more about discovering practical application of the information learned, and what additional information will supplement what we have already learned. This is vested interest-learning.
Through the magic of that vested interest, an instructor only needs to provide the wand of a platform for students to share. Participation is key to keep students engaged. What better way than encouraging differing opinions than the instructor to facilitate growth? Confidence to express an opinion by providing a safe environment to do so helps the students to retain the knowledge learned because it is not being spoon-fed to them as if they are ignorants!
The way to keep adults engaged is to include them in the instruction somehow. Ask adults relevant questions about what is being taught that might include something similar to an experience or experiences they've had in other professional settings. In that way, it seems more like a sharing of ideas with equals. Remember, in most adult teaching settings, the people are paying the instructor to give them a service or training. If engagement is high, that is the garden of repeat business and referrals to other potential paying students.
If instructors make their students feel like imbeciles, as college professors tend to do, unless they are college professors, those instructors are going to be unemployed. Adults want to know that what they have learned is recognized while learning something to supplement that knowledge. All curricula for adults planned in a way to include the adult learners will produce better results. Unlike public school and even college, the adults generally want to be in the learning situation.
Would it make your more inclined to participate in a class if you feel the instructor respects your knowledge and ability to reason?
Entertainment has a pleasurable connotation. It means to hold the attention of a person or persons in a pleasurable way. Slasher moves can be entertaining to some. Many people like to be frightened in the safety of the movie theatre or amusement park. Just like engagement, entertainment holds the attention of the students. There are so many ways to capture adult learners entertainment tooth without becoming a stand-up comedian.
Ice-breakers are not appropriate in all situations and make take away from the learning environment if applied incorrectly, though it is a good way to lubricate the mind-engines of adult students. Give an interesting fact or ask a thought-provoking question that connects in some way to the lesson.
As an instructor at the beginning of my weekly lesson on occasion, I made wild statements informing the students that by the end of the lesson or training it will make sense. It can be irritating for some students and I would not suggest it to be the main way of keeping them entertained, but it can work.
Appropriate comedy works also--contextual comedy. Teach a concept, tell a humorous thing relating to it, and if they laugh or chuckle you know they learned it.
Encourage stores or examples. Nothing is more entertaining than a good story! I learned more about Roman history by watching the Netflix series The Roman Empire: Reign of Blood than reading any history because it was told in story form. The best and most read books of modern time teach concepts in stories, such as the Bible.
In the end, it is up to the facilitator or instructor to decide what is best for his or her students in relation to what is the subject-matter. A motivated adult learns when he or she feels the instruct respects his or her existing knowledge. That respect leads to adults trusting and opening up to receive more knowledge.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson