Thinking about your own learning as an adult

As a kid I frequently could non see the point of acquisition, nevertheless as an grownup, desiring to develop a deeper religion, I chose to set about theological surveies. This turned out to be a defining clip as my apprehension matured, and I was able to decide theological riddles and reply inquiries that had long perturbed me ; inquiries and issues that conventional accounts, while sometimes helpful, often exacerbated. Yet, the strife between what I felt and what was more loosely accepted, instead than decreasing, for a clip intensified well. Merely towards the terminal of my surveies was the tenseness well alleviated. The declaration began out of the blue while I was home one flushing reading articles by an writer to whom I had merely late been introduced, and whose fresh positions would in clip profoundly impact my ain. Amazed by what I was reading, it did non take long earlier I realised that I had found the hermeneutical keys I had long sought, even if it had been on an unconscious degree. As I now recognise, this point in clip marked, non a new beginning, so much as the beginning of the terminal of what had basically been an “ autodidactic ” ( Merriam & A ; Brockett, 2007, p.139 ) procedure – that commenced the minute I foremost joined the church. Over undermentioned yearss and months, as I read and my apprehension grew, I literally felt re-awakened and liberated. Even now, as I read and ponder biblical texts, I feel echos from that dark.

That this critical acquisition event occurred long after go forthing school, supports much modern-day thought in grownup instruction, peculiarly the impression that grownups are basically autonomous scholars. Contemplation has revealed to me merely how important autonomy was during this drawn-out event. In footings of consequence, it was cardinal to my acquisition ; I had entered formal surveies to the full cognizant of why I was at that place and what I wanted to accomplish, reflecting Knowles ‘ contention that grownups “ need to cognize why they need to larn something before set abouting to larn it ” ( Knowles, 1990, p.57 ) .

This was so true for me. While I had found much of what I had learnt from merely go toing church helpful, I merely every bit frequently felt that issues had hardly been skimmed, go forthing me inquiring inquiries, and frustrated because I could non reply them. Conversely, because I besides found adept-preaching to be a powerful tool in pass oning perceived truth, this excessively, strongly conveyed a necessity to set about theological surveies. Still, based on my ain experiences, and notwithstanding that I was more motivated as an grownup, I remain unconvinced that immature scholars, to a greater extent than grownups, merely necessitate to cognize what they must larn in order to go through, without understanding the relevance of their acquisition to real-life ( Knowles, 1990, p.55 ) .

Because demand and relevance are closely aligned, to connote as Knowles does, that grownups are more per se ‘need ‘ oriented as scholars ( Knowles, 1990, p.57 ) , by deduction, must intend that they are besides more ‘relevancy ‘ oriented as scholars. One of the interesting things about reexamining my learning-event, has been the find of how cardinal a function relevance has played in my ain acquisition. While there are many grounds why I enrolled at bible college, that I was interested and wanted to understand the keys to deriving more cognition, entirely suffices to exemplify the point.

Looking at things through a relevance lens has besides made it easier to see the true nature of my engagement in this learning event. The mere fact that I could hold pulled out of my surveies at any clip, but did non, shows that I had volitionally taken duty for my ain acquisition ( Merriam & A ; Brockett, 2007, p.139 ) , and the accomplishment of my learning ends. That I was challenged by the thoughts that I was larning, but besides empowered to dispute these thoughts in return, likewise shows that I was non merely a inactive receiver in the acquisition procedure. While incidental larning no uncertainty played an of import function, it was merely the concomitant, non the chief class. In fact, as my grounds for inscribing demonstrate, I was the 1 who was in control of my acquisition, albeit with aid from faculty members ( Merriam & A ; Brockett, 2007, p.139 ) .

Permiting that by ‘need ‘ , Knowles apprehended ‘deep-desire ‘ or ‘longing ‘ , to be portion of the semantic scope he associated with the word, so my entry and engagement in theological surveies, besides demonstrates that as an grownup, I excessively was motivated to larn those things I needed to, in order to “ get by efficaciously with real-life state of affairss ” ( ibid ) . Simplifying what was in world rather complex, I wanted to be able to work more efficaciously as a Christian. Even so, I think Knowles ‘ usage of “ demand ” in relation to child acquisition, as highlighted by its association with the thought of ‘coping efficaciously ‘ , is debatable. In my sentiment, unless it can be clearly shown that kids, possibly apart from babies [ 1 ] , have a lesser “ demand ” to larn in order to “ get by efficaciously with real-life ” , so it is difficult for me to see how Knowles can keep, that “ pedagogical premises are realistic… [ and ] … practiced suitably ” ( Knowles, 1990, p.55 ) . Like grownups, merely because kids can suspend their natural dispositions when required, does non intend that this sort of demand is any less relevant to them.

Dependence does non needfully equal non necessitating to cognize, nor does intrinsic needfully top extrinsic incentives with regard to “ necessitate ” . Ironically, based on my experience, it seems more likely that the ground kids suspend such a demand, is so they can get by efficaciously with the real-life necessities of larning within an externally imposed pedagogical construction. What contemplation on my ain childhood larning experiences Tells me, is that I would foment to larn things that I perceived to be in my ain best involvement or need – which is basically what I take Knowles impression of “ cop [ ing ] with real-life state of affairss ” to intend. For illustration, because I perceived a “ demand ” , as a kid I pushed to be taught how to sit a motorcycle and do a kite, to guarantee the acquisition. The difference is possibly that kids and grownups have different perceptual experiences of demand. It may besides hold to make with the fact that kids are less able to execute certain undertakings, due to their less developed encephalons, as recent surveies have shown ( Khun & A ; Pease, 2006, p.280 & A ; Hill, 2001 ) . Therefore in my sentiment Brookfield was right in knocking the impression of “ demand ” as a derogatory “ motto ” ( Newman, 1995, p.65 ) , non because it is unimportant to adult acquisition, but because it unnaturally distinguishes it from kid acquisition.

Having lived longer and holding experienced much more of life, means that as an grownup, I entered my learning-event with a far greater volume and broader scope of larning experiences, compared to when I was a kid ( Knowles, 1990, p.59 ) . Yet, it seems that merely every bit of import as figure and scope, was the clip and chance that I had to treat and subject my experiences to considered contemplation ( Davis, 1974, p.20 ) . For this ground, I commenced this period of larning with far more cognition, and capacity to see its bounds, under what Kuhn and Pease refer to as, “ executive control ” ( Khun & A ; Pease, 2006, p.281 ) . This is important because I believe that it was this peculiarly grownup characteristic, more than any other, which enabled me to near my larning critically – or in a manner that was characterized by careful rating and judgement ; something that for given grounds I could ne’er hold done to the same extent as a kid. It provided me with the point of entry I needed to let me to be able to critically analyze, and dispute the predominating thought of myself, and others from whom I would pull. So, compared to when I was a kid, I was no longer merely ‘experiencing ‘ acquisition ( Knowles, 1990, p.60 ) , as an grownup scholar I had become empowered to incorporate or non incorporate my experiences. Furthermore, even mounting disagreement, in the face of much of what I was treating at this clip, could non free me from my larning quest, confirming Mezirow ‘s contention that “ the drift for action must come from the scholar ” ( Merriam & A ; Brockett, 2007, p.142 ) .

Therefore seen, it is clear that my learning event had many points of commonalty with what Mezirow describes in relation to Perspective Transformation. Like the adult females re-entering college plans, I excessively experienced a “ disorienting quandary ” ( Mezirow, 1981, p.146 ) . The lone difference I can see may be in the order, which merely underscores that all people are alone in how they learn. What Mezirow describes as a “ disorienting quandary ” , and I as disagreement, unlike the topics of his survey, for me commenced non when I entered college, but when I was foremost exposed to the instructions of the church. During this clip of freak out, disagreement or of possessing a cognition that was “ ‘provisional ‘ and ‘ambiguous ‘ ” ( Amstuz, 1999, p.21 ) , I excessively sought positions “ that were more inclusive, know aparting and integrative ” , in order to go re-oriented ( Mezirow, 1981, p.146 ) . Cognitive disagreement theory in fact predicts such behaviors ( ref ) . However, by the clip I got to college, possibly through incidental acquisition that occurred someplace entirely the manner ( Foley, 2004, p.5 ) , I had already become critically witting. For this ground I was able to reject and inquiry positions that to me did non look believable or adequately substantiated. Harmonizing to Hill: “ We literally must experience something is true before it can be believed and learned ” ( Hill, 2002, p.79 ) . My ain position, that is, beliefs, values, and premises that I had acquired through my ain “ life-world ” ( Kalantzis & A ; Cope, 2008, p.93 ) – as a consequence of critical battle, had already alerted me to the restraints associated with cultural premises ( Mezirow, 1981, p.146 ) ; in my instance – of peculiar ways of reading and construing biblical text. Therefore, it seems that I commenced college, holding already entered what Mezirow describes as the “ emancipatory procedure ” ( ibid ) , perchance as the consequence of some innate quest to gain order, as Rogers hypothesized ( ibid ) .

To set it in transformative footings, it was my critical coefficient of reflection that enabled me to forbear from accepting the bulk position, both anterior to, and during my term at bible college. Indeed, the antonym was true. It was in fact my critical temperament moving in consonant rhyme with my ‘internal disagreement ‘ , which impelled me to go on the acquisition journey and fulfill my acquisition ends. Therefore, when the clip came, and I began reading the articles, which every bit antecedently stated, were critical in accomplishing my acquisition aims, I was already cognitively prepared to be transformed by the text. That from the beginning I perceived the solution to my acquisition as residing, non in some one-off across-the-board thought, but instead a hermeneutic or system of reading, besides suggests that I was already runing from within an interpretive-critical paradigm. I was, as it were, already prosecuting with my life-world as an synergistic text to be interpreted. This, hence, suggests that the most impactful acquisition that occurred during this event, really took topographic point within the interpretive-critical sphere. Having entered this larning stage with clearly anticipated results, that I used to steer my actions, and ends, that I intended to achieve, besides attests to the sense of purpose, motive and liberty, that I brought to the undertaking as an grownup scholar. Furthermore, because all are interrelated in extremely complex ways that involve the head, emotions, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and values, besides shows how of import these were in assisting to build my world ( larning ) as an grownup ( Hill, 2001 ) .


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Foley G. 2004, Introduction, Dimensions of Adult Learning, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Hill, L.H. 2001, The Brain and Consciousness: Beginnings of Information for Understanding Adult Learning, Chapter 8 in The New Update on Adult Learning Theory, Merriam SB ( erectile dysfunction ) New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 89, Spring 2001.

Kalantzia, Mary & A ; Cope, Bill, 2008, New Learning: Elementss of a Science of Education, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.

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Kuhn, Deanna & A ; Pease, Maria, 2006, Do Children and Adults Learn Differently? JOURNAL OF COGNITION AND DEVELOPMENT, 7 ( 3 ) , 279-293, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Merriam, S. & A ; Brockett, R. 2007, “ The Adult Learner and Concepts of Learning ” ( Extract ) in The Profession and Practice of Adult Education, John Wiley & A ; Sons, Inc.

Mezirow, J. 1981, ‘A critical theory of grownup larning ‘ in Adult Education, vol. 32, no. 1 ( reprinted in Kemmis, S. and McTaggart, R. 1988, The Action Research Reader, Deakin University, Victoria.

[ 1 ] Rapid linguistic communication acquisition in babies provides a good illustration a real-world “ demand ” .