April 5, 2006

Adult Learners or Any Learners?

It is popular in nursing education to refer to Knowles' Adult Learner principles in teaching. But are any of these principles unique to adults? Couldn't you just as easily replace "adult" with "child" in teaching? Sometimes these principles are used by nurse educators to differentiate their teaching methods for returning adult students or BSN for RN students from the young adult students out of high school. However, aren't encouraging "self-direction", "seeing relevancy", "using past learning", and "showing respect" teaching methods to be used any student? "Adult" learning principles seem to make the assumption that non-adult students should learn by rote and that grades are their only motivation to learn. Teachers from K through College should be using these supposedly adult principles.



Wow, this is eerie - I must have had some really good teachers over my lifetime (Brent was one of them!) because this semester, teaching my first class, I incorporated ALL of Knowles' principles into my course design and teaching style without having had any "classes" in education. I must have absorbed the theory by example... It's interesting how there are so many parallels between nursing and education. My 6th grade math teacher, Mr. Delamo, really got us excited about math by having us track stocks (our parents must have been thrilled that we were getting the newspaper and looking at it each morning before school - because we wanted to see how our stocks were doing!) AND apply fractions to design an architectual floor plan (to scale) for our dream house. One of my former classmates is an Architect, another is a Chemist, another works on Wall Street, another is a Physician, another is a Lawyer and works for the FBI... Not bad for public school in NJ, in 1987.

Brent Thompson, DNSc, RN said...

Thanks, Olga.

I also have experiences from grade school of teachers who used "adult" learning principles to motivate us.

Many of us had teachers who really made a difference in our lives. I would bet there is a correlation with memorable teachers and their use of adult learning principles.

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