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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Role of Adult Learning Principles As a Variable in Mentoring Teachers

In this section of the blog we are focusing on a body of knowledge about learning to teach that a mentor needs to understand in order to provide constructive assistance to their mentees.

In this particular post we will describe *M. Knowles’ (1980) Five Principles of Adult Learning as a variable in mentoring teachers.

Malcolm Knowles’ research on adult learning informs us that adult learners view themselves and the process of learning differently from children. Adults have a breadth of experiences and distinct needs that the mentor may very well want to consider as a variable when working with his/her mentees. With this background in mind, here are Knowles’ Five Principles of Adult Learning:

1. Adult learners have a wealth of experience that should be drawn upon whenever possible. Thus, it is more important to utilize the experiences of the mentee rather than those of the mentor.

2. Adult learners tend to see themselves as self-directed and independent learners.Thus, many adult learners resent being treated as children or being patronized.

3. Adult learners tend to have a present orientation, wanting to learn skills, methods, and strategies that will help them now not at some point in the future. Thus, mentees are often resistant to learning about some innovation or change that has no bearing on their present focus.

4. Adult learners tend to want to solve specific, not general, or theoretical problems.Thus, effective mentors should keep the focus on problems that the mentee identifies (or the mentee and mentor agree upon) rather than on ones that are global in nature.

5. Adult learners tend to be highly motivated to make a difference in the lives of people. Thus, effective mentors should be wary about questioning the motivation of their mentees.

* Knowles, M. (1980). The Modern Practice of Adult Education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Cambridge Adult Education.

On the next post we explore a related concept, what is a Jewish Professional Learning Community.

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