INTRODUCTION TO ADULT EDUCATION
Unique Aspects of Adult Learners
Adult education should be based on what is known about adult learners. Adult learners are not required to attend school; they choose to attend. They often have very specific needs when they come to a program. They may want to enroll in a job training program and, thus, need more skills in mathematics. They may want to find a better job, to read to their children, to prepare for the GED test, or to write to their families so very far away.
I want to learn how to read and write. For my job and for myself. I'm too old to be stupid! --Christopher S.
Adult learners participate in multiple roles often as a parent, worker, son, daughter, and/or a community citizen in addition to their role as student. Often these roles compete with each other for their time and attention. Adult learners drop in and drop out when necessary.
Adult learners bring a variety of experiences both positive and negative to the learning environment. Many have had negative prior educational experiences which may interfere with their ability to participate. These unique aspects provide special challenges to the adult educator.
Unique Aspects of Adult Educators
Adult educators are as diverse as the learners they serve. They come from many walks of life: teachers trained in adult education, elementary and secondary teachers, tradespeople, craftspeople, health care professionals, politicians, and government workers.
Adult educators are also adult learners with all the same characteristics of the students they teach. Remembering the goods and the bads of their own educational experiences will stand them in good stead in adult education.
This resource guide is intended to acquaint educators with the unique aspects of adult education. What are the important steps that must be taken to ensure the learners will stay? How do casual learners become lifelong learners? These steps include:
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