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Cara Summerfield, M.Ed. M.A.

Educating Adults

Educating adults is different than educating children. Adults have accumulated knowledge and experience through their jobs and life's experiences that can add to their learning experience. If the trainer is in touch with that knowledge and experiences, more than likely, they will be successful in training adults.

Adults' motivation depends on where they are in their lives. If they are looking to create more money, they will be interested in improving their skills to earn a promotion or raise. Some adults return to school to enhance their personal lives by becoming knowledgeable with a certain topic. Today, there is a great influx of business people who have websites who wish to learn how to optimize their own sites in order to achieve greater rankings on search engines.

Now that our economy has taken a downfall, there are more adults than ever returning to school to get higher degrees with the hopes of landing a better job or changing careers. There are also adults who are employed by companies who have excellent training programs which enhance their performance on the job. There are several aspects in adult learning that must be acknowledged in order to be effective. The most important aspect is that adults must feel respected. If a trainer is talking down to the participants, they will most likely turn off all listening. Respect is the most essential aspect in adult learning. Without it, training/teaching has gone by the wayside. However, if respect is being given, the remaining aspects will be satisfied naturally.

1. Adults are autonomous and self-directed. This means that they do not want to be force fed information. This can only cause a shut down in their mental processes. They want to be in control of what and how they learn.

2. Adults have life experiences and knowledge. These two aspects help them understand and learn new information. These experiences and knowledge must be used in the process of training in order to keep them motivated.

3. Adults are goal-oriented. There must be a goal they consider beneficial for being in a course and the course must be organized and objectives must be clearly defined.

4. Adults are relevancy-oriented. If they are being asked to attend a class, workshop, seminar, or training on dog walking, when there is no place for dog walking on the job, they will reluctantly go to the event, and you will have wasted your money.

5. Adults are practical. Most often, they are not interested in learning for the sake of learning. They need to know that the information will be useful to them on the job. Adults are different than children. They must know that they are respected, appreciated, and valuable in the learning process. If they do not feel these things, they will not put any energy into learning and you may lose your money on training. Be sure, when hiring a trainer, that they are qualified to work with adults.