Teaching Adults Workshop1a

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Heather Day
Welcome to this page providing support material to a workshop on Teaching Adults designed for Otago/Southland Regional KidStart Visiting Teachers - October 2010

I'm Heather Day, an Educational Developer at Otago Polytechnic and I hope this material provides some additional insights for those who are familiar with teaching children to explore the assumptions and differences with teaching adults.

If you want to contact me directly please click on the following link email

Is there a difference between teaching adults and teaching children?

Consider these questions

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What do you think are the differences between teaching children and adults?

What assumptions do you make about teaching adults?

In the late 1960's and early 70's the term Androgogy gained international popularity through the work of Malcolm Knowles and the introduction of the concept of Lifelong Learning for adults.

Knowles work was based on several core assumptions around adult learning:

  • Need to Know - what is the reason for the learning
  • Experience - building on prior knowledge and experience
  • Self-concept - and the importance of self responsibility and a sense of ownership with the learning
  • Readiness - to learn based on the relevance of the learning to their life
  • Orientation - a learning focus based on problem solving not content
  • Motivation - internal motivation increases the potential outcome of the learning

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Do you agree or disagree with Knowles assumptions?

Can you see any issues with these assumptions?

Check out the resources tab above for more information on Malcolm Knowles and his theories of adult learning.

Do we teach adults or facilitate their learning?

Some may say this is pure semantics but this is the biggest difference to working with adults.

The word teach implies that knowledge or skills are imparted which suggests the key focus is on the person imparting the knowledge.

The word facilitate suggests assisting a person's progress thus the key focus is on the person being assisted.

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Explore the definitions of teach and facilitate.


How do these suggestions sit with your understanding of the terms?

Are there additional concepts and contextual understandings that you place on these words that influence your thoughts around these terms?

Now click on the Facilitating Learning tab at the top of the page.