Adult 688 #4: Searching for Islands of Competency

Task:  How do you see yourself handling a teaching-learning scenario where there are individuals with learning disabilities in a mixed group?

Teaching adults in a learning event where there are disabilities in a mixed group seems a natural progression from the questions asked in the mid-term process.  All learning groups are mixed.  I cannot recall working in one where everyone in the group learned in precisely the same manner and by the same method of instruction. Conversely, I recall very few instances where appreciation for intellectual diversity as well as diverse modalities of learning were offered to me in a learning event.  It is unclear to me if differentiation was offered to a specific individual, which is as it should be.  While I am rather astute in determining the processes employed by a trainer, I am assured that confidential was in play if diverse strategies, assessments, evaluations or formal assessments were offered.

As an adult educator, there are many frameworks from which we consider adult programs.  The frameworks I would employ when planning learning events would draw from androgyny, intellectual diversity, and dialogue education.

My assumptions about the adult learner in a training conducted by me would reflect an understanding that Knowles Six Assumptions are applicable for all learners. The reservoir of learning experience should be a resource for learning in problem-solving, internally motivated events (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007).  The teaching strategies that would best engage learners and allow them to flourish are those that welcome intellectual diversity.  Adults with learning differences may approach learning events where respect for difference was not honored and where diverse learners were often unable to design, develop or execute their own learning. Events which welcome heterogeneity allows adult learners to succeed (Rodis & Witherell, 2001).

Human Resource Management:

The purpose of this meeting is to discover the previous learning and training experiences of the individual. I would meet with the team member along with the representative responsible for managing the initial intake of EEOC and ADA forms and procedures. We would begin by engaging the individual in a conversation regarding the previous training/learning participated in this organization in the past. Along with a discussion of what is a struggle, I would ask specifically where the “islands of competency (Rodis & Witherell,2001) lie.  The areas where an individual may shine is an opportunity to discover the type of learner, situation or where how a team member may be paired with success. A conversation of equal measure is one that encourages the team member to share the areas of success in learning in this employment setting.  At this time, I would ask the team member to share the types of accommodations that are in place to ensure a productive workplace setting. I would ask the extent of the involvement of the team member in planning for and in considering which accommodations or learning strategies would be useful.

Human Resource Development:

At the outset of program design, evaluation indicators should be established by those who conduct training and development. Evaluation indicators are designed into the learning experience that will be used to indicate that learning has taken place (Vella, 2008). When planning for learning, I would include the individual, the accommodations for work well for learning. The type (s) of assessments, pre, mid and post-assessments are a viable way in which to capture learning in the moment.  Assisted technology tools, which may already be a part of the individual’s plan, can help an adult during a learning event. Low tech assistance, in height of noise, interaction or conversation, the movement of instruction and the presence of the learning plan being offered ahead of time is simple ways in which to assist individuals who may find learning auditorily a challenge. As a member of training and development, it should be an integral component of the conversation to ask if there is a device that would improve, maintain or assist the functional capabilities of the adult in that setting.

At the conclusion of “Shimmers of Delight and Intellect,” Witherell & Rodis provide a very useful list of suggestions that could most certainly be considered when planning for instruction for intellectually diverse learners. Of the seventeen suggestions provided, all of which are quite useful, these resonate with my experience in adult learning where struggle resides:

  • Teach in ways that are cultural, linguistically, and developmentally responsive to all students.
  • Recognize and affirm the “islands of competency” that reside in every student.
  • Support copious and yet non-punitive practice in basic literacy skills.

Understanding a proclivity for confluence, in terms of creative and non-traditional problem-solving, I can foresee that a future role in training and developing adults with diverse learning styles and differences is going to be a challenge.  I have never found it difficult to do what is best for the learner.  Where I find a challenge, is in working within a system that is either unable or unwilling to consider diverse learning for adults.  The last bullet above is one that is so very important to all learners, but I assume even more so for those with a difference.  For example, the last year that I taught in a public school setting is one where a new assessment tool was unveiled to the faculty.  This new program was taught in a large group setting, using a power point, a lecture along with visual images of the computer program. One hour of training with a lack of diverse tools or strategies, with no opportunity to practice this new skill, was so very frustrating for the faculty.  Couple this event with the unveiling of two additional programs presented in the same format was such a poor way in which to train learners. There are diverse learning styles differences in each work setting, however, the thought that the children in classroom settings one day become working adults in an employment setting does not appear to surface on anyone’s radar.  How is this possible?  This was one important event that helped to tip my decision to educate, advocate and support adult learners!

 

Ultimately, at the core of any learning experience for adults is the learner.  When planning a learning event for an adult with learning differences, I cannot make assumptions about the individual and act on them without the learner.  The self-concept of the learner must be preserved.  Any prior experience that may be poor, exclusionary or collaborative is important to consider in order to allow for readiness to develop.  All adult learners can be motivated to learn in a positive, adult learner-centered, approach.

A new way to think about the word FAIL-first attempt in learning

FAIL

 

Resources:

Garrod, A., Rodis, P., & Boscardin, M.L. (Eds.), (2001).

         Learning disabilities and life stories. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2012).

         Learning in adulthood.  A comprehensive guide. John Wiley & Sons.

Vella, J. (2008). On teaching and learning: Putting the principle

          practices of dialogue education into action. John Wiley & Sons.

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Adult 688 #3: Scenarios with mixed groups

Reflection Question:  How do you see yourself handling a teaching-learning scenario where there are individuals with learning disabilities in a mixed group?

Teaching adults in a learning event where there are disabilities in a mixed group seems a natural progression from the questions asked in the mid-term process.  All learning groups are mixed.  I cannot recall working in one where everyone in the group learned in precisely the same manner and by the same method of instruction. Conversely, I recall very few instances where appreciation for intellectual diversity as well as diverse modalities of learning was offered to me in a learning event.  It is unclear to me if differentiation was offered to a specific individual, which is as it should be.  While I am rather astute in determining the processes employed by a trainer, I am assured that confidentiality was in play if diverse strategies, assessments, evaluations or formal assessments were offered.

As an adult educator, there are many frameworks from which we consider adult programs.  The frameworks I would employ when planning learning events would draw from andragogy, intellectual diversity, and dialogue education.

My assumptions about the adult learner in a training conducted by me would reflect an understanding that Knowles Six Assumptions  (a layperson’s link) are applicable for all learners. The reservoir of learning experience should be a resource for learning in problem solving, internally motivated events (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007).  The teaching strategies that would best engage learners and allow them to flourish are those that welcome intellectual diversity.  Adults with learning differences may approach learning events where respect for their individual difference was not honored and where diverse learners were often unable to design, develop or execute their own learning. Events which welcome heterogeneity allows adult learners to succeed (Rodis & Witherell, 2001).

Human Resource Management:

The purpose of this meeting is to discover the previous learning and training experiences of the individual. I would meet with the team member along with the representative responsible for managing the initial intake of EEOC and ADA forms and procedures. We would begin by engaging the individual in a conversation regarding the previous training/learning which occurred in this organization. Along with a discussion of what is a struggle, I would ask specifically where the “islands of competency” (Rodis & Witherell,2001) lie.  The areas where an individual may shine is an opportunity to discover the type of learner, situation or where how a team member may be paired for success. A conversation of equal measure is one that encourages the team member to share the areas of success in learning in this employment setting.  At this time, I would ask the team member to share the types of accommodations that are in place to ensure a productive workplace setting. I would ask the extent of the involvement of the team member in planning for and in considering which accommodations or learning strategies would be useful.

Human Resource Development:

At the outset of program design, evaluation indicators should be established by those who conduct training and development. Evaluation indicators are designed into the learning experience that will be used to indicate that learning has taken place (Vella, 2008). When planning for learning, I would include the individual, the accommodations which work well for learning. The type (s) of assessments, pre, mid and post assessments are a viable way in which to capture learning in the moment.  Assisted technology tools, which may already be a part of the individual’s plan, can help an adult during a learning event. Low tech assistance, as in the intensity of noise, interaction or conversation, the movement of instruction and the presence of the learning plan being offered ahead of time are simple ways in which to assist individuals who may find learning auditorily a challenge. As a member of training and development, it should be an integral component of the conversation to ask if there is a device that would improve, maintain or assist the functional capabilities of the adult in that setting.

At the conclusion of “Shimmers of Delight and Intellect,” Witherell & Rodis provide a very useful list of suggestions that could most certainly be considered when planning for instruction for intellectually diverse learners. Of the seventeen suggestions provided, all of which are quite useful, these resonate with my experience in adult learning where struggle resides:

  • Teach in ways that respond to the linguistic, culturally and developmental difference of all students.
  • Recognize and affirm the “islands of competency” that reside in every student.
  • Support copious and yet nonpunitive practice in basic literacy skills.

I can foresee that a future role in training and developing adults with diverse learning styles and differences is going to be a challenge.  I have never found it difficult to do what is best for the learner.  Where I find it challenging, is in working within a system that is either unable or unwilling to consider diverse learning for adults.  The last bullet above is one that is so very important to all learners, but I assume even more so for those with a difference.  For example, the last year that I taught in a public school setting is one where a new assessment tool was unveiled to the faculty.  This new program was taught in a large group setting, using a power point, a lecture along with visual images of the computer program. One hour of training with a lack of diverse tools or strategies, with no opportunity to practice this new skill, was so very frustrating for the faculty.  Couple this event with the unveiling of two additional programs presented in the same format was such a poor way in which to train learners. There are diverse learning styles differences in each work setting, however, the thought that the children in classroom settings one day become working adults in an employment setting does not appear to surface on anyone’s radar.  How is this possible?  This was one important event that helped to tip my decision to educate, advocate and support adult learners!

Ultimately, at the core of any learning experience for adults is the learner.  When planning a learning event for an adult with learning differences, I cannot make assumptions about the individual and act on them without the learner.  The self-concept of the learner must be preserved.  Any prior experience that may be poor, exclusionary or collaborative is important to consider in order to allow for readiness to develop.  All adult learners can be motivated to learn in a positive, adult learner-centered, approach.

A new way to think about the word FAIL-first attempt in learning.

FAIL

Resources:

Garrod, A., Rodis, P., & Boscardin, M.L. (Eds.), (2001).

          Learning disabilities and life stories. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2012).

Learning in adulthood.  A comprehensive guide. John Wiley & Sons.

Vella, J. (2008). On teaching and learning: Putting the principles and

         practices of dialogue education into action. John Wiley & Sons.

Something to chew on…   Lab chewing a bone

The self-concept of the adult learner is the most important consideration when planning for instruction. A productive work setting is one in which adults transition from being directed to directing themselves as learners.

 

Adult 610 #4: Creating safe space for dialogue

Community-of-Practice-finalJSThe instance to create a space for conversation is sometimes difficult for adults.  As a graduate student, I find that I have more time now to engage in lengthy conversations with my friends as we schedule coffee or lunch gatherings frequently.  The dialogue in this space is open and hospitable. Our meetings allow us to know and be known by each other. In few situations, though, does dialogue occur where we create shared knowledge about our learning. We do not necessarily share the same space during the day as we would in a work setting.

When I was an educator in a public setting, I rarely talked in depth with any of my colleagues. An exhausting work schedule left little room for anything of depth or quality.  Dixon, in Perspectives in Dialogue, suggests that “…people long for a more authentic kind of interaction with their co-workers but that they are not sure that it is possible, or even if their longing is legitimate” (Dixon, 2). My longing is legitimate. Unfortunately, I find that many colleagues are unaccustomed to  a conversation that surrounds praxis. I find this rather paradoxical in an educational setting.

The developmental dialogue described by Dixon suggests that if people cannot be themselves at work, they cannot develop at work.  Wow!  What a novel idea.  An adult who spends 1/3 of their day working must find an opportunity to voice a concern or perspective.  My current work, as a graduate student, affords me time to engage in deeper levels of conversation. Discussion occurs  as part of a planned topic for class, however, it does not necessarily continue beyond the setting of the class.

heart-hands

The dialogue from Monday’s class Adult Educator as Consultant and The Heart of the Matter gave voice to the perspectives of my classmates. While not a part of any particular conversation, I found it beneficial to listen to the way in which classmates framed their views. While we may have used the term “dialogue,” I imagine that what occurred were discussions about separate points of view. When and where is there space to move from discussion to dialogue?

Dialogue education brings the adult educator as consultant into a new role. Vella suggests that the educator becomes the listener and designer of learning experiences. She references Freire’s ideas regarding dialogue between the teacher and the student in the epilogue of her book. The concept of becoming jointly responsible for the process by which each individual learns encourages accountability and engagement which allows for shared meaning (Vella, 2008:2014).  When blurring the roles of teacher and student talk transitions from discussion to dialogue.

Parker Palmer, in the chapter Learning in Community: The Conversation of Colleagues, suggests that if one wishes to grow in one’s practice, that there are two places to go: (1) the inner ground from which good teaching comes (meaning inside one’s self) and (2) the community of fellow teachers from whom we can learn more about ourselves (Palmer, 2007: 146).

Bohm’s guidance for dialogue is minimal, according to Dixon (1996:12). He suggests that we meet without purpose or a specified goal so that everyone can talk freely.  This would be a novel way to grown one’s praxis as a process consultant. In one specific instance last spring, my classmates and professor sat and spoke freely about ourselves first and then about organizational change.  The dialogue was engaging and the community feeling allowed us to learn more about ourselves as adult educators. It was a conversation that Palmer would have enjoyed! As I come to the end of the semester, I am reluctant to let the conversation end.

Something to Chew on-dog-from-chewing-e1438880851338

How do I engage other adult educators in keeping the conversation going in the midst of the demands of life? 

References

Dixon, N. M. (1996). Perspectives on Dialogue: Making Talk Developmental for Individuals and Organizations. Center for Creative Leadership, PO Box 26300, Greensboro, NC 27438-6300 (Stock No. 168: $20)..

Palmer, P. J. (2010). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. John Wiley & Sons.

Vella, J. (2008). On teaching and learning: Putting the principles and practices of dialogue education into action. John Wiley & Sons.

Adlt 612: #5 “Stop enrolling, start embodying!”

In nearly every one of my work settings, a mission statement hung in a prominent space.  My first encounter was nearly 25 years ago. While waiting for the elevator that would transport my haul to the top floor of my elementary school, I would stare at the mission statement that hung on the wall.  I had no idea who had created it, but assumed that it was the work of unknown people in central office.  How it applied to me, considering that I had no voice in it, was unknown.  Very rarely was it discussed or considered when planning curriculum for students and learning events.  In the time that has ensued, mission statements, beliefs and vision and values are featured on the mast-head of newsletters, in lobbies and hallways as well as websites.  Organizations embrace them as a mantra for the collective group.  Considerable time is spent by small interest groups in creating them for the good of the organization.  Survey employees in an organization about them, and I would imagine that you’d become Jay Leno walking the streets of NYC unearthing ignorance at every cubicle.

“Every child, every chance, every day” was the philosophy of one of my work settings. It was prominently displayed for the public to see in buildings and on the marquee of the school complex.  On several occasions I used it to my advantage as both a parent and a teacher.  When every other strategy that I tried failed, I would pull out the mission statement.  I became Elizabeth Swann invoking the right of parley, when asking for accommodations that I felt would benefit a student.  “If the adversary demands parley, you can do them no harm until the parley is complete, she reminds Pintel.  ” Hence a discussion would ensue between me, and the adversary, who was typically an  administrator or a committee of educators.  Negotiations about the terms necessary to make a change for a student may have not occurred without this trump card.   After nearly 8 years, the school board has adopted a new mission statement,

“The…system encourages, challenges, and engages students in an educational process that fosters critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and responsible citizens to be prepared for college, a career and a globally interconnected world.”  

Hurumph, perhaps I wasn’t the only Elizabeth in the organization who evoked parley when quoting the mission statement? I despair to consider how this current mission statement provides for the needs of those who can not speak for themselves? Which part of the statement tells their story?

The 4 Dice group, of the Learning in Groups and Teams class selected “Developing Shared Vision and Values” to facilitate with our class.  At a first glance, the chapter was rather straight forward. It provided several activities, but was very dry. It needed some life, action and a bit of Hollywood to capture the attention of our classmates.   All learning, according to Dr. Jane Vella, must be anchored in work that connects the learner to the task.  Thus we start with the question

What inspires you?

Periodically, I luncheon with a group of retired public school educators.  Conversation is circular, as each woman weaves from present day activity to recollections of life as a career person.  So I posed the question, “What inspires you,” before I launched into an encapsulated version of our facilitation project.  Their responses

Work that uses one’s skills, has merit, provides good feedback, appreciation, work that is effective, makes a difference somewhere for someone,provides opportunity to try new ideas, encourages creativity, provides a balance between sedentary and active work, between doing and receiving, personal relationships make the work worth doing, I want something out of work-it needs to tickle my brain.

Inspiration comes in many venues, forms  and through a variety of experiences.  Consider Jerry McGuire’s recollections of how to embody the philosophy of his late mentor who suggests that “the key to this business is personal relationships.”

 The things we think, but do not say

If we had surveyed our classmates, I would imagine that a variety of (printable) responses about the idea of a mission statement would run along these lines-

Mission Statements are:

  • pointless
  • created by the human resource department
  • take space on a wall
  • mean nothing to me
  • What mission statement?

How do we create new learning?

Anne Davidson, consultant with Schwarz and Associates,  asks the facilitator to consider “…vision as a specific, richly detailed picture of a desired future that a group seeks to create.”  Mission statements are ways that organizations define what is worthwhile, desirable and what it exists to do. Facilitators offer intervention which allow organizations to clarify their mission and vision productively when considering the purpose, an agreement about the values that are at the core of the organization before creating a vision.

What would an ideal future look like and in what way would it be consistent with the values of your organization? Davidson suggests that each facilitation begin with an activity or exercise that helps adults to clarify their desires.  Personal stories may follow the exercise while providing elements to start a conversation about shared vision.  Stories about the peaks and valleys that I have experienced as an educator, would give a starting point for a conversation about “my” ideal working environment. Group conversations are necessary to lead to the establishment of a common ground, a desired future and a goal to meet.

Creating a Vision

 

Response to new content allows adult learners to use what they are learning and not simply responding to it.

Let’s use the new content immediately!

Welcome to Laurinburg, North Carolina

Reading and discussing the exhibit 17.3, Values and Beliefs of the Laurinburg Management Team in printed form is rather static.  Classmates needed to dig deep into the website to practice using the ideas in the content.  An introductory video, Target Laurinburg, provided a visual welcome to the group, albeit a little Mayberry, North Carolina for the taste of some.  Classmates then worked in groups of four to discover ways in which the community embodied the vision. The thirteen beliefs were divided between the small groups.  Members used the city’s website, Welcome to Laurinburg and Scotland County…what do you see?  links provided to them. These links shared initiatives supported by the town as well as quarterly newsletters to answer two important questions:

In what way does the city provide sufficient evidence to support the vision and values stated by the management team?  What relevant information is needed to support these values? 

The vision and values proposed by the management team began with a call by then manager, Peter S. Vandenberg, to reflect deeply about what qualities would create an exceptional organization.  This event was preceded by a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea company in Boulder, Colorado. He left the company with the impression that it was the finest company that he had ever toured with the greatest employees.  How did Celestial Seasons carry out this feat?

The management team’s journey began with a foundation of systems thinking, mental models and ground rules before considering how to develop shared values and beliefs.  Over a period of three months, June, 1996-September 1996, the team spent five days in dialogue.  Dialogue was necessary to reach consensus.  Two days were spent clarifying and revising the exhibit.  Consensus seeking is rather time consuming, but a necessary step before a team may begin to test the potency of these thirteen values.

Where do we go from here?

Members of the class, overwhelmingly, agreed that Laurinburg tried to embody the life that they created, as Block suggests in the above quote.  The work occurred nearly eighteen years ago, while the research was published fourteen years ago, by Anne S. Davidson and Richard R. McMahon in Popular Government magazine.  The reading selection in the fieldbook is an overview of this lengthy project.  I found the publication worth the time to read as it unfolds the wealth of learning done by this management team.  It is important to see how the concepts presented by Schwarz were employed by this team in a real-life facilitation and not simply concepts in a textbook.  They do have a life outside of research with implication for systemic change in any organization.

When learners move the content into the real work,meaning their own personal work settings, they discover how to integrate what they know about vision, values and a personal belief system.  For me, this is the most important component of the learning task, but is often one that is rushed with lack of time to consider for future use.  My own enthusiasm for this facilitation and way in which to learn maintained my motivation for the duration of the project.  Vella reminds me to consider ways in which to protect the learning space from my enthusiasm.  The growth mindset with which I navigate through life, makes enthusiasm difficult to contain.  Time allows shared vision to become the values of the group.

“If top management wants to 

create a vision or set of values

for the organization, let them create it

and live it out for themselves first-

for two years or more.  Then let them

worry about how to engage others in

the vision.  Stop enrolling, start embodying.”  

 

 

So who is with me?

The next time I travel south for vacation, I may just stop in Laurinburg and see the vision in action.

 

Adlt 606: #3 “Liberating the why.”

Those who follow my blog know that a good scene in a movie is one that resonates with me.  The thread of an interesting line, the reaction of a character to a situation that may seem inconsequential to one viewer can make a significant impact on me.  Enter Peggy Sue.  While the time frame for this film is at least twenty years before I encountered high school, the setting could have been taken directly from a day in my life.  Hollywood presented a character who spoke what I had thought for so many years about the study of mathematics.  Where in the world would I use it and what made it essential for me to study it?  My teachers provided no viable reason for learning the subject and certainly didn’t enlighten my ignorance. Light years before the STEM movement, educators rarely discussed the relationship between mathematics and the rest of the world. Why should I give countless hours of my time to learn formulas and theorems that appeared to be little more than rote memorization and endless hours of dittos and worksheets?  I hated the subject, saw little relevance to my life and didn’t believe that I possessed a mind that could comprehend the subject.  I became a devout “Math Atheist.”

Dr. Herta Freitag, known for her work on Fibonacci numbers, joined the faculty of Hollins University (then College) in 1948.   The first woman to serve as the section president of the Mathematical Association of America would certainly be an interesting guest speaker at the local business woman’s dinner meeting.  I knew that my supervisor would relish the idea of an opportunity to hear her speak, let alone sit and dine at her table.  What my supervisor did not envision was what would follow my introduction. I extended my hand, introduced myself and stated that I was a “reformed Math Atheist.”  Dr. Freitag’s laughter did little to assuage the embarrassment of my guest.  Her warm smile and request to repurpose my expression was a sure indication that a mathematician could have a sense of humor.

Somewhere between the end of high school and this dinner my ideas surrounding the subject of mathematics rotated a full 180 degrees.  Enter fifth grade. I loved the age group, yet, bemoaned the idea of being responsible for a subject that was of little use to me.  My colleague claimed language arts and social studies which left mathematics to me.  How would  a “Math Atheist” present learning tasks  to a group of eager and enthusiastic students? The world of manipulatives, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, small group instruction and most importantly, the world of “why” turned my life around.   The late 1980’s and early 1990’s were a time of great fun for me as a teacher. A transformation occurred as I began to question the purpose behind what I taught and how it was presented to me as both a learner and a teacher of learners.

As anyone who works with elementary children knows, the teacher does not lecture, but rather designs a situation that ensures that learning is meaningful for the learner.  An experience full of purpose does not occur without dialogue, as Jane Vella asserts.  “The dialogue in dialogue education is not between the teacher and the learner but rather among learners, of whom the teacher is one.”  (p. 51)  I began to question the reason behind the imprisonment of the “why?” While my education did not offer the necessary background and context for understanding the “why’s” of mathematics, the teacher training was a wealth of rich contextual experiences.

The ideology behind questioning authority, while central to my teachers and babysitters of the 1960’s, seemed to take a back seat to the adage, “Children should be seen but not heard.” To question the relevance of a subject, the reasoning behind a lesson or assignment was considered disrespectful.  The social activism of the last century brought transformation to many systems within society. In what way did it impact my role as a public educator, I wondered?  When posed with the question “why” my students often struggled to both ask and answer questions that allow them to engage in self-discovery.  Adult learners often question each other  about the reason a training must occur, particularly when a worker’s load of responsibilities is already overwhelming.   Rarely, if ever, have I heard an adult voice concern within earshot of the presenter.  Comments are routinely voiced during break time, while visiting the restroom and in passing materials and resources to one another.  While it would only seem natural that learners would begin to question the purpose of a learning event, “why” continues to be imprisoned. Adults learners need rich contextual experiences that show respect for their time and effort.

In Design and Delivery of Adult Learning programs, I am charged with discovering the needs of my learners and the importance of assessing those needs prior to any learning event that I create.  The work invested in the program, Community Garden Day, shows evidence of the work that my learners will do in a small group setting. This evidence comes with hours of preparation, research and much reflection.  Do these events adhere to the “safety in design” ideology proposed by Vella?  If the group loses energy, will they have a the tools necessary to discuss the questions posed by the event? For years I have told my students that good readers, like good movie goers leave the story asking more questions  than they had entering it.  While I have never seen my needs projected or discussed at the beginning of any meeting or training, I am convinced that to do so at the Community Garden Day programs will show careful consideration and planning for a positive learning opportunity. Adult learner must see themselves as a focal point of the learning event.

The mantra of  those who design programs for adult learners should be “Tough verbs and tangible products.” It would certainly spark some interesting conversation, if not a few puzzled expressions. I love how Vella describes the importance of the tough question.  All research begins with a question, yet we often fail to consider how every learning event should surround one as well.  She ascertains that it’s a cogent indicator of learning. (p. 57)  (Thesaurus.com sites 34 synonyms for cogent, all of which are pretty tough in their own right!  Go Vella).

A cogent indicator of learning must be the liberation of why!