The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield
“…there will be very few standardized practices that help students across the board learn essential skills or knowledge. An approach that one student finds particularly useful or congenial may well be profoundly unsettling and confusing to the student sitting next to her.” (p. 17)
In the quoted sentences Brookfield is advocating that learners have different learning styles. Furthermore, he acknowledges orthodox instructions for a student to abide by to enable essential learning skills rarely exists. Therefore, an educator must understand that how one student may learn could vary compared to another student. However, if instructions are developed, and then followed by the students, the produced learning outcomes might be the same. The progression to how the students concluded the same outcomes, is the individual learner’s development and technique for learning.
According to the article written by Gaetano (2016);
“Adults have preconceived notions about education, learning styles and subject matter. They prefer to learn a certain way, even if it is not the most conducive to their individual needs. Unlike adults, children will try most new tasks and see them through, regardless of how well they do. To overcome this adult learning barrier, we need to appeal to many different learning styles and present information in a variety of ways.”
The reason why I felt compelled to reflect on the quote is because I can relate to having different learning needs to other learners. During various learning experiences, I have had that feeling, when I think to myself, why am I not understanding this? Maybe at times I might even think, why is the person next to me asking me so many questions and why don’t they understand it. I believe at some point we have all felt a little unsure or anxious about what we are learning. Maybe by now some of us have even figured out our learning styles, and can process the instructions to make sense. I, even at times have different learning styles depending on what I am learning. I take MMA – Mixed Martial Arts classes and learn different techniques during the MMA classes. The instructor demonstrates the technique, we then practice the technique and are given feedback during practice sessions. Whereas, during the PIDP courses, a demonstration, practice session, and feedback would not be adequate for me to become a confident Adult Educator.
“that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person’s preferred style. For example, social environment, educational experiences, or the basic cognitive structure of the individual.”
Kolb’s learning style model consists of four learning styles and a cycle of four stages of learning which is experiential learning, (McLeod, 2010). According to Kolb, effective learning transpires when progression has taken place through all four stages of the learning cycle. As a baseline Kolb’s experiential learning four stage cycle might be one of the few standardize practices to consider developing essential learning skills. Therefore, the adult educator would need to consider instructional strategies inclusive for the four stages of the learning cycle.
Four stage learning cycle – Kolb 1974
However, the four-stage learning cycle alone, would not be efficient. Kolb explains learners have different preferred styles; diverging, assimilating, converging and accommodating. Each learning style consists of two preferred styles. Various factors such as education, environment, basic cognitive are a basis for the learning style (McLeod, 2010). A combination of the learning styles and four stages of the learning cycle, can provide insight and create many options for the educator to develop strategies to be prepared for various learning styles. Having a wider perspective on the resources available, and being prepared provides the educator with confidence, and gives the learner assurance that their learning style needs are being met. Therefore, as an educator I should know my learner, what type of learner they are, and of the learning style that could be applied to the learner.
Learning Styles Kolb 1974
The interpretation applied;
I would need to know my learner – prior knowledge, who is the learner, why do the want to learn, what are the learning expectations. I would do this by knowing what am I teaching, who is it for, maybe reviewing past feedback forms, providing a pre-questionnaire.
I would then prepare various instructional strategies, evaluation and assessment tools for various learning styles – for example I could create group discussion for one part of the class and watch a video then reflect on the video.
I would clearly align the learning outcomes, validate the instructional strategies, use assessment tools to provide feedback.
Being prepared, professional, positive and proactive during a scenario in which the learner might having concerns and issues.
With the combination of the above and additionally; the more I am prepared, the more I know how to deal with all learners, the more I will be able to engage the learner and keep the learner motivated. Overall better outcomes for the learner and for me as the educator.
Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher. In S. D. Brookfield, The Skillful Teacher (pp. 1-26). San Fransico: Jossey-Bass.
Experiential Learning Theory of David Kolb . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.verywell.com: https://www.verywell.com/david-kolb-biography-2795505
Gaetano, K. (2016, August 30). adult-learning-needs. Retrieved from Learn Kit: http://learnkit.com/2016/01/13/adult-learning-needs/
McLeod, S. (2010). learning-kolb. Retrieved from simplypsychology.org: https://simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html