Task: for the final reflection, what are your reactions to this course.
To assert that a course can change one in a profound way is a rather affected way in which to consider this learning experience. It is utterly true in the case of this lifespan issues course. On numerous occasions, I have maintained a sense of perpetual catch-up in comparison to others in my adult learning courses who possess a business background. It was a fallacious assumption that my teaching experience in the public sector would better prepare me than my peers for the content of this course. I have a very basic understanding of learning and behavioral disabilities, yet was woefully unprepared by my undergraduate work to educate adults who learn differently from their counterparts.
Several components that provide a different lens through which to consider adult learners:
Shelter vs Supported employment is an interesting way in which to consider how society has moved from containing adults with intellectual and learning differences to a more progressive movement which embraces inclusion. I was vaguely familiar with organizations in the communities where I have lived which trained, employed and produced products in a sheltered environment. To embrace the philosophy and model of support, means to be more keenly aware of the unique ways in which adults contribute to the workplace. I have recognized such an individual in a local organization where I volunteer. I just learned last week that this organization supports his engagement as a support organization. To understand the value and role that a job coach plays when assisting adult workers embraces the idea that there is a role for everyone in society.
In reality, the rules of the above organization, which remains vague in order to maintain privacy, find my manner of working unacceptable. The more complex an organization. the greater number of rules. I have an affinity for risk-taking when it means an opportunity to explore different ways to learn or assess. As an adult educator, I am now able through training experiences to provide alternative ways in which to consider the services that an organization provides.
The new lens of lifespan issues asks me to re-frame not only the way in which I perceive the structures within my organization but to consider if I am paving the way for individuals with disabilities to become allies as opposed to passive receivers. On numerous occasions during this graduate program, I have referenced Carol Dweck’s research. In order to engage what’s best about the medical model with what works for this segment of the population, the minds of those within my organization must be willing to experience growth. A growth mindset considers a variety of accommodations as tools to enhance the productivity of the individual and the success of a workplace.
The narratives in the book, Learning Disabilities & Life Stories are written from the heart and must be consumed in small segments; they are nothing less than heartbreaking. If children with hidden disabilities can be so scared by a system charged to educate them what incentive do they have to divulge learning or behavior disabilities to an adult educator in a training setting? Rodis suggests that the autobiographies help readers to understand what it means to be an expert in learning and behavioral disabilities from real life as opposed to expert knowledge through institutional learning (Garrod, Rodis & Boscardin, p. 194). The insight and wisdom reveal through heartbreak and suffering are the stories that I will remember when working with adult learners. The narrators so candidly reveal the pain and isolation experienced in public education.
To consider that there are seven stages of identity formation for those with a learning disability, I must recognize that an adult may actually find relief with a diagnosis. Understanding that adult learners in my organization do not matriculate through identify stages by age, but rather at the time of diagnosis. When planning for and creating learning experiences for adults, I must consider that the schema may have relevance for those in my training and development. If nothing else has touched me in this course, it is the necessity for adults to provide a more inclusive, loving and supportive place for those with hidden differences. If I can begin by working with one educator or with one employee who attends a training, I can make a difference. All it takes is one.
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.
Garrod., Rodis, P., & Boscardin, M.L. (Eds.) (2001). Learning disabilities & life stories.
Allyn and Bacon.