Document V Principles of Adult Learning by tpb23050


									                                2: Principles of Adult Learning

In order to most effectively equip people to work as teams to address child abuse and neglect, it
is helpful to develop programs that keep in mind how adults learn. Malcolm Knowles is a
western educator who has developed principles of adult learning. Paulo Freire is a well known
Brazilian educator whose work speaks to how context, culture, and dialogue are critical for adult
learning. The work of these two educators, along with that of others, provides important concepts
for developing training programs.

Paulo Freire (2000) describes the differences between two kinds of education – banking
education and problem-posing education.

   Banking education is teacher-centered. The teacher is positioned as “all-knowing” and
    primarily uses lecture to pour knowledge into the students as receptacles. Students are
    expected to receive the knowledge as it is given.

   Problem-posing education includes the students in the learning process. The relationship
    between teacher and student changes as they work together to understand their socio-cultural
    situation. Dialogue is seen as essential to being able to think about and understand reality.

Freire looks at learning as conscientização,(conscientization or consciousness-raising) as learners
become aware of oppressive forces and become part of the process of social change. Learners
help to pose themes or concerns which become part of the content of learning. As they become
more aware, they take greater control of their lives and situations. 1

Freire’s work is important in developing child abuse and neglect programs. Learners need to do
more than receive knowledge from content experts. Learners need to engage in dialogue to
understand how child abuse and neglect affects children in their social sphere. When they
become aware of factors that may lead to child abuse and neglect, they can take greater control in
working for change and prevention. In problem-posing exercises of dialogue and case studies,
participants become actively involved in their learning so that they can take it with them into
their work.

From the work of Freire and Knowles (2005), the following principles of adult learning can help
in developing effective training programs.

    1. Adults bring many experiences to the training program. Those experiences provide a rich
       resource for learning. Participants should be encouraged to share from their own
       experiences and to work together to bring about more effective prevention, intervention,
       and treatment.
    2. Adults learn best when they see the connections between what they are learning and how
       they can apply it in their immediate work situation. Training programs, therefore, should
       provide opportunities to engage in discussion and in case studies, role plays and

       experiential exercises that help participants talk about and address specific problems and
       challenges they face in their work.

   3. Adults learn in different styles. Some people learn best through hearing information,
      some through seeing visual images, and some through actual hands-on experience. Some
      people take in information through thinking through ideas and concepts and some
      through the feelings associated with specific examples and experiences. Effective training
      programs will seek to engage participants by including different learning approaches

   4. Adults learn better when they are informed about the goals and purposes and can see how
      what they are learning has meaning for them. Training programs should have clear goals
      and learning objectives so adults are aware of why they are learning specific material.
      Giving participants pre-readings and information prior to the training program can help
      them be better prepared. Having clear goals and objectives throughout the training
      program and matching these to the training and learning needs of the trainees, as well as
      the theory, attitudes and skills that are essential for effective child protection work, can
      help participants better understand why what they are learning is important.

   5. Child Protection Workers often work in stressful and emotionally charged situations. This
      must also be taken into account when training in child protection work. Training should
      therefore provide both some relaxing and stress reduction activities and methods of
      learning as well as provide for input on how to manage the stresses and challenges of
      working in the field of child protection.

ISPCAN models of training programs are based on these adult lea rning principles. Project
leaders are encouraged to keep these principles in mind when developing programs. ISPCAN
models need to be developed and adapted according to the needs within each country.


Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (M. B. Ramos, Trans. 30th anniversary ed.). New
        York: Continuum.

Freire, P. (2002) Pedagogia do oprimido (32nd ed.). Paz e Terra.

Knowles, M. S., Holton, E. F., III, & Swanson, R. A. (2005). The adult learner: The definitive
      classic in adult education and human resource development (6th ed.). San Diego, CA:


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