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Discuss the impact critical theory has on your understanding of adult learning and/or your practice as an adult educator - Essay Example

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Discuss the impact critical theory has on your understanding of adult learning and/or your practice as an adult educator Being a lifelong learner is a choice anyone could take (Kungu & Machtmes, 2009). I have taken such a choice as an adult educator, as I see my work not only as an educator of adults but as a learner as well…
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Discuss the impact critical theory has on your understanding of adult learning and/or your practice as an adult educator
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Download file to see previous pages It also discusses how critical theory has affected my own views and practices as an adult educator. Malcolm Knowles (1980; 2007), known as the Father of Andragogy or adult education has formulated his own Andragogical Theory of Adult Learning as the art and science of helping adults learn. It is organized around the notion that adults learn best in informal, comfortable, flexible and nonthreatening settings. Knowles, Holton & Swanson (2007) have defined adult education as “an activity undertaken or initiated by one or more agents that is designed to effect changes in the knowledge, skill, and attitudes of individuals, groups, or communities. The term emphasizes the educator, “the agent of change who presents stimuli and reinforcement for learning and designs activities to induce change” (p. 13). This definition gives a more communal flavor to the definition of learning, as it indicates that the learner adapts to the knowledge, skill and attitudes of the group he belongs to. Critical theory plays a role in dissecting theoretical concepts in seeking truth. Marcuse (1969) claims that a critical theory is concerned with preventing the loss of truth which thinkers of the past have worked so hard for. However, it pursues understanding of more concepts that lead to more truths. The motivation to learn is affected by the reinforcements to learning namely intrinsic motivation or the inner drive to learn which leads to personal fulfillment; extrinsic motivation, which consists of rewards such as high grades or a prize for performing well; social reinforcement, an example of which is praise and approval from significant persons in an individual's life; and achievement, or the attaining of the learning goal. Having an interplay of the four kinds of reinforcement is the most effective way to motivate a learner to pursue more knowledge and acquire more skills (Stoll, L., Fink, D. & Earl, L., 2003). Adult learners have a deep need to direct their own learning, possessing a pride and learning style that suits their own personalities. As people mature, individual differences increase with age. Accepting these assumptions of how adults learn, Carl Rogers (1969), a humanistic psychologist further details the process of humanistic learning. He claims that the learner is personally involved in a holistic way. His or her feelings and cognitive aspects are deep into the learning experience. Even when the learning stimulus comes from an external source, the sense of discovery, of reaching out, of grasping and comprehending comes from within. Rogers also emphasizes that learning makes a difference in the behavior, attitudes, even the personality of the learner. This is consistent with the definition of learning presented earlier. The learner is aware whether his learning meets his personal need, whether it leads toward what he wants to know and whether “it illuminates the dark area of ignorance the individual is experiencing. The locus of evaluation resides definitely in the learner.” The essence of learning for the adult learner is meaning. When learning takes place, the element of meaning is built into the whole experience. Ellias and Merriman (1980) concur, “the truly humanistic teacher respects and utilizes the experiences and potentialities of students”(p. 125). He gets his cues from his students in order for his class to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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