The Adult Learner
Being an Adult Educator
Adult learners bring a lifetime of experience, problem-solving, negotiation, and accomplishment to the learning situation. They want, and deserve to have, input. They don’t want to be treated like children who must wait until the instructor decides the day’s lesson. Adults want to have some say in the classroom. An adult educator can take a facilitative role in the classroom to meet this need.
“I don’t want the teacher to tell me what to do. They should help me, say ‘That’s good,’ and stuff. Teachers never talked to me much in school – except to tell me how bad I was doing.”
“The teacher must be enthusiastic herself or himself. They must come in with an energetic attitude. They must be positive because it radiates. How the teacher feels and appears - it will affect the classroom. So it’s sort of like you are the facilitator. You set an example. You’re the role model. And you’ll share with them the importance of an education and the importance of being independent. So if they see you and you are enthused about it and you share ideas and then they will feel the same as well.”
Take a moment to consider how taking on the role of a facilitator can affect instruction for adult literacy learners.
On your worksheet, record your initial thoughts about the role of the facilitator in supporting adult literacy learners
Note any insights or ideas you may have at this point.
Adult literacy learners may lack strong independent learning skills. Taking a facilitative role can assist adult educators in fostering student decision-making, initiative, and self-direction. As a facilitator, aim to model and encourage independent action, responsibility in asking for assistance, and an enthusiasm for life-long learning.
Below is a real-life adult education scenario. While you are reading, review the student responses. What kinds of support do they need to complete this task? How could the instructor take a more facilitative role in the learning process?
Real-Life Scenario—Mario’s Essay Assignment:
Mario’s class has been working on writing skills. Mario has challenged them to compose their first essays. He has assigned a topic and given his students the week to write their essays. On Monday he reviewed the writing process and handed out worksheets for them to use in writing their first draft. On Wednesday, when only one student turned in a rough draft, he asked them why. Responses included:
“I don’t know how to write that way.”
“I always do stuff at the last minute – it’s not due ‘til Friday.”
“I don’t know what to write on that topic – I don’t get it.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
On your worksheet, record your thoughts on the students’ underlying needs, based on their responses in class.
Then record any ideas you have for the instructor. How can he foster self-direction and independent learning amongst his students?
In reviewing these ideas, did you find any similar to your own? Did any of them strike you as particularly interesting? Did they provide any new insights for your instruction of adult literacy learners?
On your worksheet, make note of any tips, insights, or new ideas gained from the instructors’ suggestions.
- Adult learners need support to be self-directed and to take charge of their own learning process.
- Acting as a facilitator means the instructor focuses on supporting students in learning to take control of their own learning process.
- A facilitator guides and directs student learning by helping students to explore options, by suggesting alternatives, and by encouraging students to make informed decisions regarding their learning.
On your worksheet, record any final notes or thoughts, specific ideas you want to remember, plans for further study, etc.
Click “Next” below or a specific topic on the outline to the left to continue.