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Twelve Principles for Effective Adult Learning

Teachers have to set their teaching method and strategy in teaching their students. They should be suit with the students’ characteristics, read my previous posting.
A principle, philosophers tell us, is the beginning of an action. As we begin the action of designing a course, a seminar, or a workshop for adult learners, we can make informed decisions that will work for these learners by referring to certain educational principles. I have discovered that these principles apply across cultures. Actually, there are twelve basic principles to make effective adult learning that interconnected, intrinsically related one to the other[1]. In Training Through Dialogue (Vella, 1995) she name fifty such principles and practices that work to make dialogue education effective.
Although these principles and practices have been tested in community education settings, I believe they can also offer insight into educational processes for teachers and professors in more formal systems of education. As we shall see in the case studies that follow, they have been proven to work under diverse and sometimes extraordinarily difficult conditions.
One basic assumption in all this is that adult learning is best achieved in dialogue. Dia means “between,” logos means “word.” Hence, dia + logue = “the word between us.” The approach to adult learning based on these principles holds that adults have enough life experience to be in dialogue with any teacher about any subject and will learn new knowledge, attitudes, or skills best in relation to that life experience (Knowles, 1970). Danah Zohar calls dialogue a quantum process, the means of doing quantum thinking (Zohar, 1997, p.136). In this approach to adult learning all twelve principles and practices are ways to begin, maintain, and nurture the dialogue:
*      Needs assessment: participation of the learners in naming what is to be learned.
*      Safety in the environment and the process. We create a context for learning. That context can be made safe.
*      Sound relationships between teacher and learner and among learners
*      Sequence of content and reinforcement.
*      Praxis: action with reflection or learning by doing.
*      Respect for learners as decision makers.
*      Ideas, feelings, and actions: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor aspects of learning.
*      Immediacy of the learning.
*      Clear roles and role development.
*      Teamwork and use of small groups.
*      Engagement of the learners in what they are learning.
*      Accountability: how do they know they know?
In Vela’s study of the new science, she have come to understand that her awareness of how interconnected these educational principles and practices are was sound quantum thinking. You will discover as you work with these twelve principles that you cannot exclude any of them. What strikes me as significant and operative, as we begin to design for effective learning, is the distinction between the universe seen as a machine (Newton) and that seen via quantum physics as energy. It is the difference for me between materialism and spirituality, between rote learning and “thinking with one’s toes.” Her experience of teaching and learning over her life of seventy years corroborates the quantum approach.

[1] Jane Vella. Learning to Listen Leaning to Teaach.(2002) pg. 4

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