The Six Assumptions of Adult Learning

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At one point or another in most everyone’s life, they have encountered positive and negative educational experiences. Most everyone I know can recall a favorite teacher that inspired them, as well as a teacher that they didn’t like so much, or maybe it wasn’t the teacher but the environment or delivery that makes educational experiences meaningful and memorable. I too have had these experiences, experiences where the teacher was sweet and kind, ones where the delivery was boring or energetic and ones where the environment created the mood for learning. All of these play into the educational experiences we have. It is the goal of this paper to reflect on an educational experience in which it was not conducive to the adult learner and compare that experience with Knowles’ Assumptions of Adult Learning. I hope to shed light on how adult education can move from the Traditional Learning Context, into the Andragogical context, meeting the needs of adult learners in today’s society.
Traditional Learning Context
As an adult learner who was formally an early elementary teacher, my least favorite time of year is the week before school starts back for the new school year. The first week of school is always a rush and a buzz of excitement and nerves. However, it is the week leading up to that first week, that for me, as an educator was a week I dreaded to see. That week was always full of seminars, district wide meetings, and school wide meetings most of which were conducted by an outsider or consultant that had not worked in the district or school but was hired to advise on new practices or principles. Every year it was the same story, same situation, and same routine. On the day we had the district wide meeting, all of the f...

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...ducation Environment has it’s purposes and is used well in the academic world of young high school graduates, it is the adult learning environment that fosters a much deeper sense of purpose for learning, giving the experience meaning, application, and divination. (Merriam Et Al. 2007)

Emani, A. A., Bolandnazar, A.A., & Sadighi, M.M. (2011). Andragogy and Pedagogy: differences and applications. Life Science Journal, (8)3, 78-82.

Harris, S. (2003). An Andragogical Model: Learning Through Life Experiences. Kappa Delta
Pi Record, 40(1), 38-41

Merriam, S. B. (2001). Andragogy and Self Directed Learning: Pillars of Adult Learning
Theory. New Directions for Adults and Continuing Education, (89), 3.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood A
Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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