Adult education: How to be an active learner:
Educational forums worldwide were debating adult learning from the early days of pedagogical thinking. It never concluded its debate but rather grew in its multi-faceted approach and out of which ‘active learner’ became the talk of the town.
Ancient India possessed one of the diverse and colourful educational systems in the world. Knowing some of its basics would be helpful in elaborating what we expect from an active learner. These ancient universities themselves were centred on a teacher who will guide his students in attaining the ‘truth in life’. The learning was not merely to gain factual knowledge but to apply the knowledge in succeeding life events. The students lived in the same place, did all the chores at the academy and interacted with nature to experiment what they have learned. They took back the experience they received to the teacher for guidance in how well they could make use if it to succeed in their lives. Ultimately, the teacher lets them make a decision by letting them know what is right and what is wrong.
The thousand year old model which could harness the essence of learning was re-discovered in modern day as a ‘reflective cycle of learning’. The basis of such a system is the continuous feedback received by a learner, for the action done, based on an experience and an analytical thought process. The cycle would not complete unless you follow these steps which are essential steps in being an active learner.
When considering an active learner, the following characteristics are well documented:
Self motivations: Adults learn best when they are motivated in learning. This could be due to financial incentives, personal gains, promotions and pressure from an external influence. The motivation guides the adult learner to succeed and accomplish his objectives.
Being task oriented: Adults are task oriented. They learn when they are involved in doing certain things or applying any skills in work that would affect his life. It features as an important aspect of an active learner that they like to be given the chance to use their existing knowledge and skills for accomplishing new tasks.
Goal driven: As discussed earlier, achieving their goals would take lead in a learning adult and it is when the adults behave more active in the learning process.
Expectation to be treated as matures: In adult education, giving the learners the due respect as mature students and letting them take responsibility in their learning will promote learners to become active.
Collaboration: It is proved that adults behave well in a collaborative learning environment in most instances. This will allow them to express opinions, harness other people’s opinions, practice democracy and develop self confidence.
Apart from the above characteristics, the active learners are people who engage in learning activities with their preferred way of learning. Visual, auditory and tactile learners become more active and attain the best leaning experience while engaged in their preferred educational technique. Therefore being an active learner is not only to possess the above characteristics but also to indulge in proper learning methods as well.
Finally, becoming an active learner involves several important steps.
Prepare: The involvement of a adult learner in a learning experience would be augmented if the learner is prepared for expected learning activity.
Be pro-active: Seeking knowledge, proper mindset to query and learn will eventually make someone an active learner.
Reflective practice: Learn, analyse, theorise, apply and reflect should be the adult learning practice for an active learner.
And enjoy the learning experience.