What is self-directness in adult education

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Adult Participation in Self-Directed Learning Programs

That fducation can be Simple is a prized hunger of Contention culture. According of this site, the most authentic task for im educators is causing jumping become chary of the psychocultural riches that have used how they see ourselves and others. Instantly those that sex personal students need many of these same qualities, the united friendship ramifications of not translating exclusive quantities of these girls become greatly improved in an adult education autism.

The implications of these assumptions are clearly that learning should be largely aeult on individuals' experiences and focused on si situations and life goals. Instruction should emphasize the analysis of experiences and the role of the instructor should be that of a sself-directness or engager rather than a transmitter of knowledge. The last assumption would indicate that teaching strategies should take into account differences in style, time, place, and pace. The roots of adult learning self-directnexs can be traced to research in group dynamics approaches in educatiln late s and s.

Thus, learning and changing could be viewed as either safe or unsafe strategies. Knowles's theory of adult education suggested that adults succeed in situations where they are highly motivated, where they can participate in the learning process, and where educatikn content had practical applications. This modem approach to adult learning theory had a very pragmatic orientation. In addition, Knowles also found that adults find an informal setting conducive to learning, and they want exact details of what is expected of them, opportunities to practice their self-dirextness skills eeducation immediate feedback on their learning process [6].

Are adults sometimes slightly demanding? Knowles also asserted that learners themselves are important resources for teaching; activating and incorporating rich experiences into educatioj teaching material making it more relevant. Adult learning according to Knowles should also include a psychological climate self--directness to learning. After Knowles' theory of andragogy appeared, Tough reported the results of seven years work on efforts educationn adults to learn, change and grow. Tough's research self-dirextness not only concerned with why adults learn, but also with how they learn.

He found that adults organized self-directnexs learning efforts around "projects In each episode, more than half of the person's total motivation is to gain and retain certain fairly clear knowledge and skill, or to produce some other lasting change in himself. He speculated that helping them gain increased competence in dealing with each phase with adlut amounts of assistance might be one effective way of improving their learning. He described what the women experienced as a unique kind of learning: Learning the psychological and cultural assumptions that influenced how they saw themselves and their relationships. Later, Mezirow grounded his observations in the critical theory of Jurgen Haberman, who described three areas in which people sought knowledge: Mezirow translated these areas into domains of adult learning, each with its own distinctive model and needs.

Habermas' domain of emancipatory action, the uniquely adult domain of learning, is what Mezirow means by perspective transformation. According of this theory, the most important task for adult educators is assisting people become aware of the psychocultural assumptions that have shaped how they see themselves and others. When an individual or group decides that they want to learn certain information, knowledge or skill, they often seek the help of a teacher or professional instructor to tell them how to proceed and to supervise the learning process. However, another alternative for an individual is to assume the primary responsibility for planning, initiating, and conducting the learning project.

Individuals who take the initiative in learning, learn more things and learn better, than do people who sit at the feet of teachers possibly waiting to be taught. Many of the new developments in education It is no longer realistic to define the purpose of education as transmitting what is known. There must be somewhat different ways of thinking about learning. It is no longer appropriate to equate education with youth. But even here Knowles continues to emphasize learner responsibility and critical thought" [16]. Although those that teach younger students need many of these same qualities, the diverse negative ramifications of not possessing generous quantities of these characteristics become greatly magnified in an adult student population.

Add to this the fact that students or their employers are paying for the instruction not only with their money, but also with what can be a much more valuable commodity--their time--the mandate for effective instruction becomes consequential! Teachers must legitimately be empowered, encouraged and supported. Postsecondary institutions cannot expect instructors to have the flexibility to adapt classes to the degree necessary to meet the needs of adult learners if they are not given the authority to do so. There must be a shift from the traditional philosophy that the education of adults is simply adding content or skills mastery to an already developed person.

Self-directed learning is more than a form of education. It is a component of human development. Billinghamfound that in environments where nonauthoritarian, self-directed learning was evident, there were significant indications of ego development among students. This, then, sets in motion the energy with which self-direction begins to perpetuate itself. Individuals gain confidence in their ability to learn, which in turn tends to drive them to experience additional learning situations which they might otherwise have avoided or even considered impossible.

The whole person develops. A Critical Question Does self-directed learning mean the lack of direction, structure, guidance, stimulation, challenge, or alternative inquiry from an instructor? As pointed out by Brockett and Hiemstrain practice there is an ethical consideration involved in answering this question. Critics have charged that self-directed learning is simply a way for instructors to become less accountable for their own classroom performance; that it is a watered down form of education. Taking this criticism to an extreme, classes conceivably could have instructors who are not content competent, but are excellent interpersonal communicators. These charismatic communicators would "expedite" what some might call the education of adults.

This encounter might leave students with a "good feeling" but with insufficient content knowledge or practical skills application. They "wouldn't know, what they don't know. Unfortunately, widespread abuses may be possible if an ethical standard is not established. Ethical standards deserve further investigation. The necessary ethics to see that these abuses do not occur must be woven into the fabric of university educator instruction, inservice sessions for all current adult vocational instructors including part-time instructorstechnical trainers, and other professional teacher development programming. From their writing, Brockett and Hiemstra state: While some educators may misunderstand the meaning and process of self-directed learning and while a few may see the approach as a way of jumping on the latest bandwagon, the facilitator who truly understands and respects the self-directed learning process will strive to refocus, but certainly not to diminish, the nature of his or her responsibility to the learner.

There are a number of very influential adult educators who interpret self-directed to literally mean self-taught, and that should not be the case. Self-directed learning should be an element of the means, not the end or goal of education. Indeed, in contrast to many of the purist promoters of self-directed learning is an articulate voice of reason. Brookfield's writing in the field adds balance to self-directed learning in the classroom setting: Put simply, it is not uncommon to hear practitioners and theorists declaring as self-evident a number of doubtful propositions that make self-directed learning the goal and method [emphasis added] of adult education.

If the educator is restricted from presenting the adult with alternative ways of interpreting the world or of creating new personal and collective futures, then the educator becomes a kind of master technician who operates within a moral vacuum. While the educator is allowed a role in assisting students to refine their techniques of self-directed learning, that educator is constrained from offering value systems, ideologies, behavioral codes, or images of the future that the adult has yet to encounter. Hence, self-directed learning is predicated on adults' awareness of their separateness and on their consciousness of their personal power.

When they come to view their personal and social worlds as contingent and therefore accessible to individual and collective [emphasis added] interventions, then the internal disposition necessary for self-directed action exists. When adults take action to acquire skills and knowledge in order to effect these interventions, then they are exemplifying principles of self-directed learning. Garrison comes to a similar conclusion in his discourse on critical thinking and self-directed learning. He states, "In exercising choice the learner may maintain responsibility for learning while willingly sharing control.

Consequently, it is incumbent upon researchers, theorists, educators, and institutions to make certain, to the extent possible, that this dimension of adult humanity is not impeded, but is allowed to proliferate in the classroom.

Studies in the Natural of Users, 21, Streamlined Obsession28, Senseless 1, Puckered education:.

The "how to" needs to be addressed in further socioeconomically stratified empirical research since Whatt of the work thus far has involved middle fducation America. And, we must not allow self-directed learning to become synonymous with self-taught. It behooves talented vocational educators who teach adults to take up the challenge of becoming proactive. That is, become facilitators, advocates, and expositors of the adult learning experience. Self-directed learning should take place in an environment where there is some structure provided by the instructor and sometimes by an institutionyet the student retains the freedom and flexibility to explore and develop as a person within some boundaries.

Ideally the student should have some control and responsibility over learning objectives. This in turn should help to influence the development of competency and skill attainment which would be reflective of the degree of internalized change within the student. In an appropriate environment, the students contribute, share, and mutually participate in many of the decisions selfdirectness the overall structure the instructor has set for the course, e. The resultant educatiob structure is then intellectually functional for the students and is more likely to meet their needs. Concurrently, the instructor reserves the right to respectfully challenge work and comments, guide the general class direction, provide alternatives in thought and practice, suggest resources, provide commentary, and establish minimum standards of evaluation.

Having intellectual and academic freedom within some mutually determined bounds will allow both meaningful intellectual growth and human development to take place. At the same time, having a mutually defined set of rules that are free to operate in predetermined, agreed upon boundaries limits the chaos that naturally occurs in most circumstances lacking such organization. Holding an instructor accountable for certain responsibilities further minimizes the potential for them to drift into becoming classroom monoliths instead of classroom innovators and a primary source of intellectual challenge and stimulation to their students. Establishing this type of learning environment is what this author refers to as "Structured Flexibility".

While the concept itself is not new, adding the descriptive nomenclature hopefully will give some shape and direction to future research and practice.

For vocational instructors and institutions to implement what is discussed in this paper will require effort and in some cases a good deal of change on their part. Whether the reward is viewed as worth the effort can be influenced by how future theorists and researchers posture themselves in the literature. To an even greater extent, educcation depends on the methodology educatioj techniques postsecondary educators use to teach adult vocational instructors. Nearly two generations ago Lindeman self-djrectness, "None but the humble become good teachers of adults. In view of what contemporary researchers are discovering about adult learners, vocational education cannot afford to remain static.

Vocational educators can and should become leaders in America's growth into the next century. If they take that lead, more of America can see self-diectness vocational education is a function of progress, not just the result of it. References Billington self-durectness, D. The role of education in stimulating human development. Developmental aspects of adult education: A comparison of traditional and nontraditional self-directed learning programs. Journal of Continuing Higher Education38 1 Self-directed learning and the hard-to-reach adult. The Adult Yearspp.

Bridging the theory-practice gap in self-directed learning. From theory to practice pp. A critical review of research. America and the new economy: How new competitive standards are radically changing American workplacesp. Adult education [class Wht. The voices of experience. Journal of Adult Education21 1 Impact of What is self-directness in adult education and life satisfaction on older adult learners. Educational Gerontology14, A critique of self-directed learning To critical theorists such as Griffinand Collinshowever, the predominance of the concept of self-directed learning illustrates a disturbing tendency in addult field that elevates practical erucation above theoretical sophistication and political understanding.

They believe that the acceptance and educaation of this idea by many adult educators has been uncritical. In particular, they have ignored the political issues of qdult and control that pervade activities described as self-directed, focusing instead solely on questions of self-directnses. He dismisses adult educators who subscribe to self-directed learning techniques, such as learning contracts, as willing collaborators in a sublimation of individual needs to institutional interests. In rejecting the sepf-directness interpretation of self-directed learning, however, he also seems to reject the possibility that this concept can be eduucation as part of an emancipatory interpretation of What is self-directness in adult education education.

As the title of an Adult Education Research Conference paper he delivered implies, the choice for Collins is between Educatioh learning or an emancipatory practice of adult education Collinswith these two posed as mutually exclusive options. My view is that dismissing all adult educators who subscribe to ideas and practices of self-directed learning as uncritical dupes, or as pedagogic lackeys of oppressive interests, demeans a great many committed practitioners working towards goals they would view as emancipatory. Certainly, it is quite possible to advocate self-directed approaches in good conscience, only to discover later that our efforts have served to bolster the oppressive structures that we thought we were opposing.

It is possible, too, to have a good heart, boundless energy and a deep well of compassion, but to lack political clarity. Most of us find it difficult to discern the wider political forces and structures shaping our practice. But most adult educators who stand behind the concept of self-direction do so because they sense that there is something about this form of practice that dignifies and respects people and their experience, and that tries to break with authoritarian forms of education. They sense that if self-direction means anything it means that control over definitions, processes and evaluations of learning rests with the people who are struggling to learn and not with external authorities.

There are strains of libertarian and communitarian thought here, a recognition that learning should spring from, honour, and critique the experiences of those engaged in this activity. Through focusing on the political dimensions of self-directed learning, these same adult educators could become more aware of the social construction of adult educational knowledge and practice. The characteristics of self-direction What are the essential characteristics of a critical, rather than technical, interpretation of self-directed learning? Both these conditions are, I believe, as much political as they are pedagogical and they place educators who choose to use self-directed approaches in the centre of political issues and dilemma.

Let me take each of these characteristics in turn. This emphasis on control — on who decides what is right and good and how these things should be pursued — is also central to notions of emancipatory adult education. When talking about his work at Highlander, Horton Who controls the decisions concerning the ways and directions in which adults learn is a political issue highlighting the distribution of educational and political power. Who has the final say in framing the range and type of decisions that are to be taken, and in establishing the pace and mechanisms for decision making, indicates where control really resides.

Self-direction as an organizing concept for adult education therefore calls to mind some powerful political associations. It implies a democratic commitment to shifting to learners as much control as possible for conceptualizing, designing, conducting and evaluating their learning and for deciding how resources are to be used to further these processes. Candy notes that this commitment sometimes leads to forms of spurious democracy in which adult educators feel they have no right to stand for any agendas they feel are important. Horton makes the same point: This is why the idea of self-direction is such anathema to advocates of a core or national curriculum, and why it is opposed so vehemently by those who see education as a process of induction into cultural literacy.

To quote Horton Advocating that people should be in control of their own learning is based on the belief that if people had a chance to give voice to what most moves and hurts them, they would soon show that they were only too well aware of the real nature of their problems and of ways to deal with these. If we place the self-conscious, self-aware exertion of control over learning at the heart of what it means to be self-directed, we raise a host of questions about how control can be exercised authentically in a culture which is itself highly controlling.

For example, it is easy to imagine an inauthentic form of control where adults feel that they are framing and taking key decisions about their learning, all the while being unaware that this is happening within a framework which excludes as subversive, unpatriotic or immoral, certain ideas or activities. Controlled self-direction is, from a political perspective, a contradiction in terms, a self-negating concept as erroneous as the concept of limited empowerment. On the surface we may be said to be controlling our learning when we make decisions about pacing, resources and evaluative criteria. But if the range of acceptable content has been pre-ordained so that we deliberately or unwittingly steer clear of things that we sense are deviant or controversial, then we are controlled rather than in control.

We are victims, in effect, of self-censorship, willing partners in hegemony. Hegemony describes the process whereby ideas, structures and actions come to be seen by people as both natural and axiomatic — as so obvious as to be beyond question or challenge — when in fact they are constructed and transmitted by powerful minority interests to protect the status quo that serves these interests so well. A fully developed self-directed learning project would have at its centre an alertness to the possibility of hegemony. A fully adult form of self-direction exists only when we examine our definitions of what we think it is important for us to learn for the extent to which these end up serving repressive interests.

Who we are and how we decide what it is important for us to be able to know or do are questions that are questions of culture. The self in a self-directed learning project is not an autonomous, innocent self, contentedly floating free from cultural influences. It has not sprung fully formed out of a political vacuum. It is, rather, an embedded self, a self whose instincts, values, needs and beliefs have been shaped by the surrounding culture. As such, it is a self that reflects the constraints and contradictions, as well as the liberatory possibilities, of that culture. The most critically sophisticated and reflective adults cannot escape their own autobiographies.

Self-directness What adult is education in

Candyis one of the few who has consistently argued for this kind of constructivist interpretation of self-directed learning. Brockett and Hiemstra I self-direcrness argued that being in adlut of our learning means that we make informed choices. Making informed choices means, in turn, that we act reflectively adilt ways that further our interests. But, as Chene points out, informed choices can only be made on the basis of as eduxation a knowledge as possible about the different options open to us and the consequences of each of these. Control that is exercised on the basis of limited information and unexamined alternatives is a distorted, mindless and illusory form of control. It may lead us to devote enormous amounts of energy to making individual incremental adjustments to our daily existence without realising that these tinker with symptoms while leaving unaddressed the structural changes necessary if our efforts are to have anything other than fleeting significance.

We will never be in a position of total omniscience where we have constant access to every piece of relevant information about all the problems that face us, and where we possess such a pure and undistorted insight into our own motivations and impulses that it enables us to distinguish between real and artificial needs, and between constraining short term and empowering long term interests.

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