I think the most important attribute of a good teacher is the ability to connect and collaborate with learners. A teacher may have all the knowledge in the world, but if they are not able to get this across to the learner in a way they will appreciate then learning is not taking place. The best teachers I have had have worked collaboratively with me, asking for my thoughts and opinions. If we look at Knowles 5 assumptions of adult learners, we can see what the learners need in order to learn.
As a person matures his/her self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being
- Adult Learner Experience
As a person matures he/she accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
- Readiness to Learn
As a person matures his/her readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his/her social roles.
- Orientation to Learning
As a person matures his/her time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his/her orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject- centeredness to one of problem centeredness.
- Motivation to Learn
As a person matures the motivation to learn is internal (Knowles 1984:12).
The self-concept tells us that adult learners need to feel self-directed, so I believe learners need to feel they are part of the learning process, rather than simply being told what to do. Personally I like to feel like I can work things out for myself and make connections to knowledge I already have.
Lindeman states “the resource of highest value in adult education is the learner’s experience. Experience is the adult learner’s living textbook.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2013, pg 115)
It is important for educators to try understand learners past experiences through discussions and asking for learners thoughts. This will help the teacher help them make sense of these experiences in relation to the current situation.
From a constructivist view of education:
“see knowledge as constructed by learners as they attempt to make sense of their experiences. Learners are not empty vessels but active organisms seeking meaning”. (Merriam & Bierema, 2013)
To me this further highlights the need to work collaboratively with learners and see what experiences they have.
Merriam, S.B., & Bierema, L.L. (2013). Adult Learning: Linking Thoery and Practices. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass