Adults learn in a different way from that of children. Children are like sponges, they tend to learn every new thing from every single moment. On the other hand, adults learn when they feel the necessity to learn. They are more practical in their approach and would be open to learning only when the knowledge they gain is going to provide them substantial benefit.
So how do adults learn?
- Adults tend to learn in a more self conscious way. They often decide on their own what they want to learn for themselves. Adults cannot be forced to learn something. It is only when, they are sure that something is in store for them would they be open to learning. Their interest will be enhanced when they are told about the positive outcome of learning. It would be very difficult to retain their support if they don’t see any benefit from the process.
- Another school of thought states that adults learn best by doing. The idea is expressed in the proverb: “What I hear is what I forget; what I see is what I remember; what I do is what I understand”. Any learning that helps the individual apply the knowledge gained to his day to day life makes it relevant and hence has greater acceptability.
- Adults prefer to learn through a systematic and structured way. This process of learning tends to produce better results.
- Adults learn from their own experiences and opinions. They bring along with them their own experiences in the learning process. Learning becomes more effective when past experiences are discussed or new experiences are gathered from the practical exercises.
- Each adult has his own preferences and learning techniques that he is comfortable with. He uses these techniques while integrating the learning concepts.
- It has been observed that adults learn best in a non-formal atmosphere (safe and comfortable). It is where they feel the presence of “blame free” environment. They feel safe and secure as they feel accepted by the trainers and are free from any fear of criticism.
- Another method of learning that adults generally love to explore is by solving problems that are relevant to their life. It is based on the practical understanding of their daily problems and finding solutions to it.
- A good trusting relationship with the teacher is another factor contributing to the adult’s learning process. The continuous support of the teacher is important to gather the courage to ask questions and learn from it.
These are some of the thoughts that come to mind when we talk about the way adults learn. I will be interested to learn your views on the subject. Do share your thoughts on the same.