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As We Learn, So We Develop

Tonight’s class had me wondering about the distinction between adult learning and adult development.  Our discussion about behaviorist, cognitive, and humanist theories seemed to focus on development more than learning, on the purpose rather than the process.  If we talk about these theories as they relate to learning, then we consider how our tendency toward one or the other might effect our teaching style.  We also consider our personal learning style.  Do we learn best by doing?  by thinking about and processing experiences?  by a personal action?  Most likely that is how we teach.

It was hinted that a student may learn best under a teaching style that ascribes to one theory or another.  I believe firmly that a good teacher doesn’t use just one of these modes in teaching, but adjusts to the needs of individual students (which may also vary based on context).  This is the importance of understanding adult learning theory — to appreciate diversity in perspective.  As we learn, so we develop.

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2 Responses to “As We Learn, So We Develop”

  1. Dewey helped us understand that we learn what we do. So, if students sit in large lecture halls and listen as slide content is projected larger than life on the screen…what do they learn? Well…according to Wesch…we learn to follow along, don’t ask questions and defer to authority for identifying what is worth knowing. Sounds like this might be linked to your previous post about the idea that “Most societies use education to preserve the status quo rather than to bring about change or address inequities.”

    Given your work in designing learning spaces, I’m curious about your take on learning context…as well as theory / practice ideas about learning…??

    • We could talk for a long time about this one. Environment has a lot to do with individual learning. Color, light, air quality, seating, time of day, nutrition, small groups, large groups, individuals – the list goes on. I have a great inventory called the BE (Behavioral Environment) survey that sheds some amazing light on what all these factors have to do with your own learning and how to accommodate that. Let me know if you want to take it!


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