9 Apr 2022


Developing a Philosophy for Teaching Adults

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Academic level: University

Paper type: Term Paper

Words: 1647

Pages: 6

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Adults do participate in the education process for different reasons, all of which are related to psychological, social, as well as cultural moorings. They should, make sense of their world, find meaning, and be competent on issues that they believe to be important. Hence, adults are believed to be culturally diverse and bring multiple as well as multifaceted perspectives to the learning environment. Hence, to offer adult learners with the necessary learning experience, adult educators must show an interest in the subject matter and towards the learners. Additionally, they must show personality, as well as the ability to offer positive learning environment and make the adult learning subject matter to be of interest to the adult learners ( Hoare, 2006) . As such, philosophy is considered as the framework upon which adult educators have to build their practice of education.

Clarification of personal philosophy with respect to education offers various benefits to adult educators. In essence, it provides strategies and various approaches to program learning, budgeting, teaching, and also fosters awareness on how values, ethics, as well as aesthetics can be applied to adult teaching and demonstrates how individual adult personal histories influence their education. Thus, adult educators should aspire to be very good in their practice, and must examine the adult learning philosophies with respect to understanding how adult learners can learn by facilitating their learning process.

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Adult learners are perceived to be self-directed individuals whose motivations to learn are self-centered, task oriented, or problem centered. They must be available in the classroom through their own volition and bring with them their personal experiences, knowledge, as well a personal attitudes and learning styles. In addition, they should aim to acquire the education and skills that are necessary to enhance their learning process ( MacKeracher, 2004) . Hence, it is the responsibility, to understand who the leaners are and what they seek to achieve so that they can tailor the curriculum to their own needs. Hence, the purpose of adult education is to facilitate individual adult learners’ personal growth through critical thinking as well as reflection. Hence, during the growth process and cognitive activity, the adult learners will have an opportunity to change their perspectives and shift the adult education paradigms. As a result, the adult educators should be in a position to offer adult learners with various opportunities to scrutinize and question their current ways of thinking acting and also to recognize that the process spurs emotions. Notably adult educators must offer a conducive environment that enables the adult learners to maintain dignity and have a feeling of personal growth. Consequently, adult educators must also ensure that they take care of the adult learners through practicing objectivity, especially when they present the subject matter and attend to learners.

Ostensibly, in the teaching of adult learners, the learner centered teaching process promotes the learning, that should be purposeful and should be enduring. Most often, adult learners should focus on classroom activities upon individual adult learners instead of focusing on content and should also expect that learners to be proactive and take responsibility of their own actions. As such, adult learners will have the opportunity to measure their success through self-evaluation and obtain constructive feedback. In essence, adult educators plays various roles within the teaching as well as the interaction of adult learners, such as role models and act as representatives of the institutions which they teach. Such roles are beneficial; since they work diligently to offer updated content to ensure that the adult learners learn from the personal successes and failures.

It has been observed that adult learning is based on the philosophies of adult learning practice. Therefore, the philosophical foundations of adult learning offers an understanding of enduring philosophical traditions that have been predominant in the field of adult education. However, five of such philosophical doctrines emanated from the experience of the adult learners coupled with educators, as distinctive systems of the educational thought early in the first century. In recent years, there have been a resurgence of adult education philosophy that emphasized on the discussion technique through the use of curriculum based seminars. There has been a concept of progressive adult education. As a matter of fact, there has been no other philosophical perspective, which led to the great influence in the field of adult education as the progressive. In addition, there are various features that characterize this perspective and practice including a holistic approach to education as both a life-long process that entails all aspects of living as well as learning. Additionally, progressive adult education focuses on the centrality of the learners’ experience, as well as practical problem solving methods. As such, the progressive adult educators serves to facilitate the learning process through organizing and assessing the learning experiences while at the same time engaging in such experiences through not a fully egalitarian learner relationship that is collaborative. Hence, the progressive adult education is regarded as an instrument of social development.

The other approach in the behaviorist adult education that is regarded as a system of psychological theory instead of a philosophy per se. However, the fundamental assumption of the behaviorist adult education are the questions that had been raised through a behavioral thought coupled with the manipulation of environmental conditions. As such, the educators are considered as behavioral engineers who plans in detail and the conditions that are required to result into the desired behavior on the part of the adult educator. Hence, the extensive of behavioral and learning objectives especially with regards to educational planning coupled with management through objectives in educational institutions, learning through reinforcements,, behavioral modifications, as well as competency based education to exemplify the behavioral concepts, which can be found in educational practice. Despite the fact that the application of this concept can be found in various types of educational settings and programs, they seem to be most prevalent in the settings of basic education, vocational education, as well a training in business and industry.

The other important aspect is the humanistic adult education that sets goals used for a holistic development of persons towards the holistic settings. On the other hand, the human emotional and effective dimensions that are accorded equal importance with regards to the intellectual in educational processes. Pertaining to this approach, adult learning is viewed to be intrinsically motivated or personal and largely depends on learners unique perceptual repertoires. In addition, this approach does not consider the importance of disciplinary knowledge in humanistic education rather it is considered to be beneficial means through which adult learners develop their potentials. As such, with regards to this approach, he functions of curriculum as channel can enhance the actual goals of humanistic education, especially through collaboration with other learners. Hence, it is perceived to be the most appropriate approach to adult learning. As a result the humanistic approach to adult education functions is perceived to be the main facilitator of adult learning instead of being observed as a seminator of knowledge that is fixed ( Wang, 2010) . Notably, the humanistic approach to adult education is perceived as a co-learner in the adult learning process and makes an assumption on an egalitarian relationship with the adult learners. The features of the humanistic approach to adult education includes self-directed approach to learning. In essence, it is also perceived to be a collaborative approach and andragogy as advocated by the humanistic thrusts in the modern adult education practice.

The other important approach to adult education is the radical approach that has made significant contributions to the general adult education despite the fact that it is an approach that has remained largely not thought of. The proponents of the radical adult education perceive education as a channel to fundamental social change especially in an economic and political realm. In essence, the radical approach views the established adult education systems of general education serve for political and economic interests of the social class within a society to the disadvantage of human freedom as well as autonomy. Based on the radical view, the practice of adult education is considered as a practice of social actionists who are responsible to increase the level of people’s consciousness concerning the societal situations that adversely affect them; hence, encourage activities that may cause changes in such conditions, Additionally the contemporary manifestations of the critical theory as well as practice in the practice of adult education coupled with the feminist theory are rooted with the radical theory. In addition, the approach is expounded by contemporary manifestations of the critical theory and practice especially in the practice of adult education ( Mezirow, 2015) . Hence, it is perceived that such practices are geared towards broad societal goals but also includes practices, which invite the adult learners to reflect on the pertinent assumptions as well as causes of their beliefs and actions which are also affected by the actions of others adult learners. On the other hand, there are various interpersonal regards coupled with dynamics that are examined for power differentials that may be based on social class, race, gender, as well as race. However, it is believed that the differentiating features of each of these adult education philosophies are captured in the foregoing analysis, which do not express the depth, range, as well as aesthetic qualities with the various afford in the field of practice.

In its simplest form, adult development and experiential learning theory, refers to learning through doing. In essence, experiential learning encourages the reflection first immerse adult learners in an experience and then encourages the reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking. It is an approach that offers a holistic model of the learning process as a multidimensional model of adult education development, both of which are regarded to be consistent with what is understood on how people to learn, grow, and develop. Experiential learning theory is the learning process where knowledge is created through the transformation, of experience. In essence, all of the experiential approaches encourage investigations and open-mindedness and to promote practice with important, previously identified skills and the behaviors. In essence, the mode transpires the questions and encourages investigation. Nevertheless, adult learners engage in experience that is not enough. Nevertheless, the expectedness is simulated and must be processed through the reflection as well as debriefing in order to maximize the value of adult learning. However, only the programs, which have clear objectives, as well as skilled facilitation, coupled with credible evaluation will be effective. Additionally, if the educators can show meaningful learning will corporate sector will be willing to invest in experiential learning programs. Finally, through experiential learning, it has become increasingly important that adult learners to understand how to learn and make an assumption of the responsibility for their own learning. In addition, the rapid rate of change demand a lifelong learning in the field of adult learning. 


Hoare, C. (2006).  Handbook of Adult Development and Learning: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Practice . New York: Oxford University Press.

MacKeracher, D. (2004).  Making sense of adult learning . Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Mezirow, J. (2015).  Transformative dimensions of adult learning . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wang, V. C. X. (2010).  Integrating adult learning and technologies for effective education: Strategic approaches . Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Developing a Philosophy for Teaching Adults.


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