Adult learning is studied as a phenomenon crucially different from pedagogy for the reason that there is a set of psychological and behavioral reasons that mark mature adult individuals apart from children. The one concept regarding adult development that fascinated me was Havighurst’s “teachable moments” (Knowles et al., 2020, p. 51).
The theoretical framework that he put forth was based on the idea that “developmental tasks associated with different stages of growth gave rise to a person’s readiness to learn different things at different times” (Knowles et al., 2020, p. 51). Havighurst’s conceptualization of individual development in adulthood can serve as a foundation for designing a curriculum that adults would be willing to learn. Based on their developmental stage, the subjects would be adjusted, thus producing a noticeably more effective way for the adult to learn.
Naturally, adult learning theories are designed in such a way as to take into account the developmental changes that adult individuals go through in the course of their lives. The changes are “generally divided into three types: physical changes; cognitive or intellectual development; and personality development” (Knowles et al., 2020, p. 156).
Whichever andragogic model one may find suitable in any given case, the concepts that unify them are enhanced personal freedom, a more practical and problem-solving approach, and the ability to assess their work. The process of curriculum design involves collecting “needs-assessment information”, but the result should always be approved by the adult students (Brockett & Hiemstra, 2018, p. 156). It is crucial to take into account their physical, intellectual, and personality nuances, as adult learners should be able to participate in the planning of their learning process.
Surprisingly, adults exhibit a greater degree of involvement and cooperation in class compared to younger learners. Naturally, there is a looser atmosphere aimed at solving problems presented collaboratively; the teacher expects adult learners to implement their personal experience in problem-solving, and the students generally excel at it.
The important thing to understand when conducting an adult education program is their maturity and richness of experience while also designing the program to be practical.
Brockett, R. G. & Hiemstra, R. (2018). Self-direction in adult learning: Perspectives on theory research and practice. Routledge.
Knowles, M. S., Holton III, E. F. & Swanson, R. A. (2020). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development (9th ed.). Routledge.