PIDP 3100 – Foundations of Adult Education
Vancouver Community College
November 21, 2015
Carl Rogers was an American psychologist. His unique research into the person-centred approach to psychology, which focused on understanding personality and human relationships, was also applied to education as student-centred learning. He states that (1969),
“an educated person is one who has learned how to learn . . . how to adapt and change.” (p. 104).
Rogers’ insight seems obvious, and his contemporary view is intriguing. I wanted to dig deeper into Roger’s book, Freedom to Learn, published in 1969, but it is not an easy book to track down. However, online I was able to find a WordPress dissertation (Weibell, 2011) that helped me learn more about Rogers’ view on learning.
One would think that a research book written over 45 years ago would be too old or out of date to have academic merit, but Rogers’ observations on learner-centred teaching hold true today. Obviously learning has changed and adapted since 1969 because of the technological revolution (which Rogers predicted), so learning, like anything else subject to change, has simply evolved.
What have I learned from reflecting on Rogers’ quote?
In Adult Learning – Linking Theory and Practice, while discussing Rogers, Merriam and Bierema (2014) state that, “Rogers (1969) articulated the very contemporary notion that in this high-speed globalized world what is really crucial for survival is that we all become lifelong learners.” (p.31). How has my licensing board, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (CDSBC), fostered lifelong learning? Is mandatory continuing education for the purpose of licensing a good thing? My instructor asked me the latter question in the form of feedback on my last assignment. While I believe that mandatory continuing education for the purpose of licensing is important, it is also important to mention that the CDSBC have guidelines for recommended continuing studies, but they allow the choice of study up to the individual. Self-direction fosters meaningful lifelong learning.
What have I realized about teaching as a result of this quote?
Rogers referred to himself as a facilitator (Weibell, 2011). “The teacher is a facilitator of self-directed learning rather than a dispenser of knowledge” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 30). When I’m teaching my coworkers a new skill or technology, I need to create an environment that is suitable and comfortable for them to learn. My coworkers will need to make changes in response to the new environment. That environment will have elements that are foreign to them, but as long as they are comfortable, learning will occur.
My “Aha!” moment when reading this quote, how it changed my mind about being an adult educator, and one key insight that I now have.
I’m a facilitator and a mentor! I have to be a facilitator and positively reinforce successes and failures, which are all learning moments. My students need to feel comfortable and secure in order to adapt and change. “The facilitator’s first responsibility is to let go of those fears that would hinder the team’s development. The facilitator is there for the group and not vice versa.” (Robinson & Rose, 2007, p.2).
When introducing a new procedure or technology, I often hear, “that’s not the way we did it at my previous office,” or, “In Ontario, we did things another way.” While I am open to learning from my coworkers, and I think that collaboration is important, I believe that these comments tend to show fear when an individual is introduced to a new environment. It is my responsibility as a facilitator to be open to suggestion in order to make my students feel comfortable in an environment where change is necessary.
How has this quote and the insight that I have gained from reflecting upon it, influenced my notion of teaching or how I will teach in the future?
How can I foster lifelong learning? My students need to know that their past education or experiences are inadequate to assist them in encountering new technologies and continuously changing situations. I have to be able to give them the tools and support that they will need for success, which will ultimately make them more efficient and productive. This approach will foster lifelong learning (change and adaptability) because, “not only is learning an intentional activity but, when mastered, allows teams and individuals within those teams to repeat their successes when needed.” (Robinson & Rose, 2007, p. 11). Adaptability and change ARE lifelong learning; being adaptable means that an individual is capable to change or be changed in order to work better in a new situation. Change is learning, and change is good.
@ Please refer to my Resources pages for works cited