Last Blog….

That paper is finally over…Whew!  It was a tough paper to write not really knowing what was expected. Sometimes I felt like I was going on tangents because I didn’t know what direction to go in and would keep going back and deleting and rewriting….but it is now what it is. On another note, I did start implementing our Learning Management Center to our sales group. I am very surprised how un-self-directed they are. They want to know what training they have to take…and I kept getting pushback on when are they going to have time to do any training, is the Lottery going to provide time for them, and is the Lottery going to pay for anything they choose to take. Its just like this big project I have been working on for defining guidelines on going from one level to another for two groups…managers and employees in both groups ask me what type of training is HR going to provide. It gets to be so frustrating….I just couldn’t imagine sitting back and waiting for someone else to provide me my development…also…why does everyone think the only way you can learn is by sitting in a class? One of the easiest and cheapest way to learn is by learning from each other.

On a separate note…I am hoping this class is my last class in my grad school program…it is all coming down to what I get in this one, though!  Its been 2 & 1/2 years and has been an enjoyable program…I have to say, I have enjoyed my graduate studies and have gotten much more out of them than I did from undergrad…but all good things must come to an end, and I got to say I am ready for this to come to an end. I look forward to doing more self-directed learning, things classes touched on, but I didn’t have time to go deeper into because of the classwork. I am one of those people who will never get tired of learning new things.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Adult stages of learning

The question of whether adults learn in stages or from events has kept me pondering. At first, I totally thought mainly events triggered learning. It may be someone starting a new job, looking for a new one, birth, death, illness…etc. It seems like thats when most people decide to go in another direction, or to take the time to expand their minds. And I guess I felt that way because as adults we both become very busy and very lazy…when we are not so busy doing everything we have to do, we crash…at least I do! 🙂 But then I started thinking about people I know who have had some pretty major events happen to them…and nothing. At times where I would think that they would learn something new or want to go another direction, they don’t and life just passes them by. But then I think of stages or ages, and when I think of those same people, it seemed like they just kept getting older, but didn’t learn anything new because they kept doing the same stupid stuff!  I guess it is easier to put rhyme and reason to pedagogy. Most children are somewhat on the same schedule…school and even society kinds of conforms them to one. There are certain things they are suppose to learn at certain ages, certain things society kind of expects them to do at certain ages, certain laws out there that conforms to certain ages, etc, etc, but then after that, everyone is kind of on their own journey…so it completely depends on how long they want to take, where they want to go, and even if they want to go anywhere at all. No one is or really can tell them anymore the answers for them, they got…or rather we have to figure it out on our own.

Research paper

My research paper is coming along, but very slowly. Once I get a direction in my head and start writing, I change my mind. Also, the more I read, the longer I could envision my paper becoming. I finally had to stop pulling articles and select a few things to concentrate on instead of trying to incorporate everything I was finding. I had a difficult time finding information on the beginning of career planning, I mainly found historical information of why it was established and some of the landmarks; whereas, I have found a plethora of information on postmodern career planning. I wanted to mainly concentrate on the practice of career planning, the methods that practioners use to help their clients. Not only do I think this part is grounded in learning theory, but I thought this was a great angle to go to help me in my current job…as an HR generalist a part of my job is to provide career counseling. I have found some really great techniques especially using constructivist styles of learning. Again, the more I started to search, the more I found and finally had to choose just to concentrate on a few methods or I would have gone on forever. I am concerned that i am not talking enough about the book info on the learning theory, the methods I am concentrating on in some cases describe the learning theory to a T and I don’t want to be repetitive by stating what the book says also. Once I started dissecting the career planning methods I have chosen to concentrate on, I started think about all of these other things I could bring in…microagressions, transformational learning, the Kolb cycle, etc…but again, I am running out of room!

On a personal note, my younger brother is coming home from his 3rd tour in Iraq next week. His wife had their first child while he was gone, so he will have a ton of learning to do when he comes home without any time to reflect!!

almost forgot!!

I almost forgot to write my post until I started to think what all I had due this week for my classes. It made me realize how different adult learning is from when you are younger, even compared to when I was an undergrad. It almost seems impossible trying to keep everything straight on what’s going on and what’s due now that I am in grad school…on top of remember if I have a paper due this week, I am thinking about my research paper, my journal in my other class, did I pay the bills?, my grocery list, etc. etc.! In undergrad, other than school, it was just what am I doing tonight? I also find the learning so much more valuable in grad. In undergrad, I think I just retained enough information to get through a class. After the class, I did a mind dump to think about the next one. In grad school, I want to learn more than just what’s in the books, and I want to understand it so I can make sense of it and apply it. I also take the information to the next class to find the connections. So even though I have much more on my mind and can’t even remember to do my blog, I am having a much more meaningful learning experience than I can say I did in undergrad. In undergrad it was all about the degree, in grad it is more about what am I learning and how can I use it.

Educating Rita

This was the first time I have ever seen this movie and I am really enjoying it! What a great way to bring in another perspective of learning styles. I have really liked the incorporation of activities, lecture, discussion, and video…I think all classes should try to incorporate different methods into their classes. The used of mixed methods really enforces ideas and also allows learners to view things in a completely different light. I remember having a grad class that was pure lecture, and although I was really interested in the topic of the class, I didn’t get as much out of it as I wanted to.

Educating Rita has been a fun movie and it has been interesting to see both her and the professor transform. She is searching for meaning in her life and using education to do that. As a result, you see her become much more confident and reflective in her journey. It has got to be difficult for her; however, with the lack of support she is getting from her husband. I know from being in school and working and having a family, there have been times where I have needed his encouragement and support to do it all. I wonder if he doesn’t support her because he doesn’t understand her desire to learn, doesn’t have the same interest, thinks she is taking away from his time, or wonders if she will not have room for him in his new life. It will be interesting to see how she keeps handling his lack of support. The professor has transformed as well. Whereas once he was over learning new things and helping others learn, he has found a new sense of excitement in her. Her genuine interest in learning has put a spark in him as well as her ability to question why things are the way they are…they have helped him to get back into reflection and trying to learn about himself.

Refelction

I wasn’t surprised to see that my preferred learning style is as an active learner. I can read all of the books and listen to people talk all day, but it is difficult for anything to really sink in until I have had a chance to try it myself. Any of the systems I have had to learn and have not had a training request on, my manual (if I can even find it) collects dust on a shelf somewhere because I learn more by going in and tinkering around. Isn’t that what the undo button and save buttons are for?!

The Kolb exercise did make me realize how I may not reflect as much as I wish I did, especially on things where it is difficult or even impossible to actively experiment with. I find that if I take the time to reflect on abstract ideas and thoughts, they sink in better and I am able to put my personal twist on them, causing them to reside in my schema more so than if I didn’t reflect. The only excuse I can use is that I get so busy with everything, instead of spending time to stop and reflect, it is time to move on to the next thing.

Perhaps I will use this as an opportunity to remember to reflect more. I also will find ways to incorporate active learning/experimentation into some of my other learning more…I may have to find some creative ways to do this, but in the long run I know it will be worth it.

Similarities

So I started looking for journal articles for my paper. Right now I am planning on doing it on career planning and the technique career counselors use with their clients in helping them explore new careers. I hope to find enough information on the counseling of adults. If I can find enough information, it will be interesting in how the techniques have changed over time. Are we much more advanced today in our techniques of helping people find the right career, or have we always done it a similar way but now use the modern terminology to try to coin a new technique? It will be interesting to find out. In my preliminary search, I found a lot of articles on constructivist and social cognitive approaches…this is probably for the “new” way of doing career counseling.

I am taking a leadership grad class along with this class and I am surprised to see so many thoughts shared between the two classes. For example, I was amazed after just presenting informaiton on situational leadership to come across situated learning in this class. I also see terms such as locus of control and communities of practice coming up. My class on leadership is about learning about different theories, approaches and models of leadership. It is to help someone in a leadership position understand the different strategies they can use. Because it takes someone learning about their employees and themselves, it makes sense that a lot of the adult learning terminology is coming about.

 

Pratt’s framework

So, Pratt has presented a feasible framework for understanding how to tailor teaching style to the individual. It definitely makes sense that some people, depending on their individual circumstances may need more support and direction than others. My only caution about the model is that it seems like it would be easy for an instructor to look at the model and then stick someone in a particular quadrant, and keep them there. There are some people who will stay in a partcular quadrant as long as you let them, but some of these people need to be challenged withnew styles of teaching in order to help get them towards self-directed. Additionally, some people may start in one of the higher quadrants, but something in their personal lives, or perhaps even the subject matter may direct them down a quadrant or two. I can only imagine that type of situation would be difficult for an instructor to identify in a student they have had for a while….because it is only normal to try to challenge people but what if that is being more detrimental than good because the person’s particular situation. So, although at first glance this model looks very simple to understand and follow, it is really quite complex…and I believe instructors would only be effective at this model if they understand that it is complex, that it isn’t an easy fit for any situation.

I really like how the model forces instructors to get to know their students individually. That is the only way they can ensure they are tailoring their instruction to the individual’s needs. That is also the only way they can understand if the the individual’s situation or instructional need is changing. I do find it difficult in a class to be able to adapt to everyone’s style all at once. How I tend to compensate for that is involving quite a few techniques in my training to make sure I am covering almost everyone’s needs. Also, it is important to listen to your students along the way to see if you need to adapt your style one way or the other. Another technique is to survey the students ahead of time and if you can lump certain students together who may have similar needs.

As I said before, this is a useful model, it is just difficult to use given the context of most organizational training classes. Typically you don’t know until the training starts who is even in your class, and typically the training is short term and therefore hard to adapt on the fly since you have such little time.

Oppression

Definitely oppression existed in education back when my parents were in school, but have we broken out of this barrier yet? In some cases yes, but in a lot no. Even in some of the grad school classes I have recently taken, I notice that some students feel forced to say the “right” thing. I have even witnessed instructors chastising a student from breaking away from the norm. The instructor either corrects the student, or tries their best to steer clear of that student voicing their opinion as to not influence the rest of the class. I think some people prey on the people who can be easily oppressed, which is so sad. But when they finally find their voice, it can be a really powerful thing. Just like the women who have found their subjective voice. Who better to belt out their opinions than someone who was forced againtst their will to do something they didn’t really believe in or to a live a life they did not want. Its sad that a lot of times it takes someone being on the other side of the wall to finally climb over and protest against what they were subjected to in a different life, but they have power behind their voice and their experiences and they have the power to influence someone else to not follow in their footsteps.

Banking/model

First let me talk about the banking model and the problem posing model. Naturally, anyone interested in adult learning would find the problem posing model the most appropriate. It deals more with self-direction and the constructivist theory of learning…which I think are the most challenging, yet most influential models. It allows learners to build their own thoughts, apply it to their own situations, and solve their questions. The learner may actually put themselves into a situation they have never been in, but plays out in their mind what they would do and what would happen as a result. Also, new ideas that even challenge the instructor’s mindset may emerge, causing the instructor to learn at the same time. I can’t imagine someone choosing the banking model over the problem posing. Actually, yes I can…I actually see it used over and over again…because it is easy. It is also a way for an instructor to influence an audience with their ideas and perceptions. It allows the instructor to feel in control. You wouldn’t think that students would tolerate this type of teaching, but I think some people crave it. They want someone to tell them what’s what…that way they feel like its easier to interpret the information and if someone outside the class challenges them, they have someone to blame. The problem posing model also takes a lot more skills than the banking model, someone has to have good people skills and be able to challenge their students without pushing their views. It also may take a lot more time than the banking model and I imagine that it is difficult to build a detailed agenda because the course may take another turn depending on where the students take it. I used this technique for a project I am currently working on. I started off the agenda, but after an hour into the meeting, I threw it away and we went in the direction the team wanted to go. From time to time I needed to redirect them and push them to think outside of the box and come up with new solutions. I can’t even imagine using the banking model for this project…there wouldn’t have even been a reason to have a team because they would have become frustrated with me and the upper management trying to force our views on them.