Typically, educational Institutions are in business to provide an education for children between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age. Teaching and learning for adults, occur in the form of pre-school week orientation, staff development, and recertification training. To say that I come to this course as an open slate would be to dismiss over 20 years of learning about my role as a teacher. However, I have a relatively weak set of the schema with which to adhere what I consider about adult education and learning in an organizational setting.
Organizational learning situated in a public, classroom experience, encompasses meeting the needs of learning in a specific discipline for a set of state mandated objectives. Phew…sounds like a very technical set of tasks to be completed in a very prescribed manner. The field has transitioned from highly creative and welcoming of diverse opinions and ways of learning to one that’s rather behavioral in nature. The artifacts produced and the language used focuses on the practice of working with and engaging learning on the part of students as opposed to that of adults.
With each adult learning course, a query regarding my goals and expectations is posed. I typically respond that I expect to read the seminal works of those in a specific field. On numerous occasions, I’ve remarked that those theorists whose work is the essence of our learning seem to engage in the reading and understanding of each other’s work. This experience reassures me that everything that I am learning and will learn is interconnected. This is a given expectation and one that I should no longer postulate as something new. What I need is exposure to adult learning in settings outside of the business model typically presented in our readings.
When perusing through the literature selected for this class, I conclude that the field of management considers learning in adult settings of value to the growth of an organization. These exposures might allow for me to consider how to facilitate learning for adults. I’m particularly intrigued with the idea of transfer of learning and how adults who do work that is similar to my work could learn from each other. My work as a public educator meant that my exposure to learning with other adults as a collective, a community of practice, occurred infrequently. When departments met once a month, an agenda is established for us. The department chair received marching orders from the administration. Meetings during the last tenure of my work focused on accreditation, No Child Left Behind and the Virginia Standards of Learning. Learning to sustain the members of a department featured artifacts generated for us to use with our students or to be completed by us.
Instructional Fairs occur during planned professional development and when staff members are willing to participate. It is a routine procedure to expect faculty members to state how they’ll share learning derived from attending a workshop or conference or when receiving financial remuneration for the completion of a project. I participated in a mini-grant program in one organization on several occasions. Showing my work at a fair, completing paperwork to be assembled in a large publication provides substantial meat for a resume and now a Linkedin account. Personal professional development, research and grant work can inadvertently encourage Silo-like behaviors in those who participate.
Many of the educators that I meet outside of the physical organization are bruised, beaten down and feel as though they are running ahead of their breath. When listening to me share adult learning with them, a sense of relief that someone is interested in their learning is expressed. This relief is followed by a lack of schema with which to consider what I propose when transitioning from teaching children to teaching adults.
It’s a widely expressed belief that those in the Adult Learning program are life long learners. Moving beyond the expression to becoming a community that practices their passion for learning is my new presenting possibility for change in both myself as well as others who may join me in the new future.
Learning in an educational organization is an onion like any other organization. When peeled away, there is a landscape and culture that is unique to the organization. In his post, Courage to Teach Online, Britt Watwood describes how he applies Parker Palmer’s work, The Courage to Teach to his own practice. The “what” and the “how” of teaching and learning in an organization may frequently overshadow the “why” and the “who.” After all, the “who” of organizational learning is the adult learner. The “why” I would assume is in direct relation to learning that meets the needs of the organization. In the SoundCloud recordings between Britt and his former VCU colleagues, the practice communal engagement of ideas surfaced while learning in a higher organization.
I consider my thoughts about adult learning in an educational organization.
|Then-passive recipient in an organization||Now-active learner in a learning organization|
I am positioned to ask questions about my work and learning in the organization in a prescribed manner.
I am positioned to receive learning for my role in the organization rather than engage in my learning.
I am positioned to accept learning that is prepared for me sans my engagement
I am positioned to be a conveyor of organizational knowledge in a mechanized setting
|I consider what I will bring to the learning event.
I am expected to ask my own questions about my learning in the organization.
I consider learning that’s meets my professional needs in conjunction with those of my organization.
I am a member of a community of practice with those in my profession, common work or position within my organization.
I hope to garner from this course an opportunity to engage in conversation with others about how adults in their organizations, both profit and nonprofit learn, how the concepts postulated by learning theorists can translate to the field of public education and ways in which to link ideas, individuals and practice together.
Something to Chew On-
The 10th edition copy of Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach includes a 70-minute discussion with Palmer and two other members of the Center for Courage and Renewal. Each time that I have listened to it, I come away with a sense that teaching is truly a relationship between soul and role. I’ve passed the CD along to a fellow classmate with the ideas of bringing another into the conversation. I’ve three more individuals that I am considering for a community of practice of adult educators who wish to continue the conversation of organizational learning beyond the course.