A growing number of Baby Boomers in Ontario are working past 65, writes the London Free Press, and many higher ed stakeholders are now debating how this trend is impacting the sector and society as a whole. According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the LFP, Western University has 432 paid employees over 65, and 120 over 70; while Fanshawe College has just over 100. University of Toronto Sociology Professor Robert Brym argues that these employees make it more difficult for institutions to hire younger workers, and impose a double tax on the system by collecting their pension while earning a full salary. Yet King’s University College Sociology Professor David MacGregor argues that people should enjoy the dignity of work for as long as they wish while earning a pension through a system they have contributed to throughout their working lives –SIE FB page.
The Government’s view: http://www.seniors.gc.ca/eng/working/fptf/promoting.shtml
Older workers and Human Rights: http://www.upfhlaw.ca/docs/default-source/default-document-library/older-workers-and-their-human-rights-in-the-workplace—ursel-amp-bonisteel.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Australian Government’s list of benefits for retaining and recruiting an aging workforce: https://www.employment.gov.au/benefits-recruiting-and-retaining-mature-age-staff
Some Stats and thoughts, projections for where we are right now: https://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/ntar_employer_strategies_report.pdfhttps://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/ntar_employer_strategies_report.pdf — How have we held out?
Canada is funding older worker’s return to work: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/training_agreements/older_workers/index.page
Canada’s top employers for older workers: http://www.canadastop100.com/older_workers/
I implore everyone to remember that they are able to do what they are doing right now because past veterans and present soldiers put their lives on the line in order to protect that.
I will not now debate the wars and and whether they were or are just or necessary but, you simply would not be here, reading this, without these people and the sacrifices they and their families have made.
Please do not forget about the sacrifices of their families: living without or losing their sons and daughters; children growing up without one or more parents; spouses alone without support, possibly forever; sisters missing brothers and sisters; brothers missing aunts and uncles, etc. The effects on families of soldiers is long lasting and can be permanent.
And of course, please do not forget the broken veterans coming home looking for a higher purpose in their lives, trying to assimilate to “normal” life, dealing with all that they brought back and not feeling supported by the people of Canada and their Government.
It is my belief that we should not have veterans living on the streets or living without medical care. We must push to have the Military and the Government accept the affects of war on veterans and provide them with care.
It is also my belief, especially in light of what just happened with the United States’ election, that we need to continue teaching students about this. Why it happened. how it happened. The changes it made, good and bad. We also need to teach them to help them to decide if we we need to do what we can to prevent war and conflict going forward.
Will there ever be a world with peace?
Adult Learning s an instructor, you should have a basic understanding of how adults learn. Adult learners bring experiences and self-awareness to learning that younger learners do not. To understand adult learning, you should understand learning domains, learning styles, and how and why adults learn. Educators have determined that most adults, adolescents, and children learn best by experiencing a blend of activities that promote the three learning domains: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. Cognitive refers to knowledge or a body of subject matter, affective refers to attitudes and beliefs, and behavior refers to practical application. The table below shows examples of activities in each of the three domains.
COGNITIVE AFFECTIVE BEHAVIORAL
Lectures Values clarification exercises Role plays
Brainstorms Nominal group process Simulations
Discussions Consensus-seeking activities Teach backs
The three primary learning styles are: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Visual learners tend to learn by looking, seeing, viewing, and watching. Visual learners need to see an instructor’s facial expressions and body language to fully understand the content of a lesson. They tend to sit at the front of the classroom to avoid visual distractions. They tend to think in pictures and learn best from visual displays. During a lecture or discussion, they tend to take detailed notes to absorb information. Auditory learners tend to learn by listening, hearing, and speaking.
Auditory learners learn best through lectures, discussions, and brainstorming. They interpret the underlying meaning of speech by listening to voice tone, pitch, and speed and other speech nuances. Written information has little meaning to them until they hear it. They benefit best by reading text out loud and using a tape recorder.
Kinesthetic learners tend to learn by experiencing, moving, and doing. Kinesthetic learners learn best through a hands-on approach and actively exploring the physical world around them. They have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time, and easily become distracted by their need for activity and exploration. We retain approximately 10 percent of what we see; 30 to 40 percent of what we see and hear; and 90 percent of what we see, hear, and do. We all have the capability to learn via all three styles, but are usually dominate in one. https://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/downloads/freebies/172/PR%20Pre-course%20Reading%20Assignment.pdf
Here is an online test so that you can learn what type of learner you are, if you do not know already: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml
If you are in school right now or plan to in the future, here is a site to assist you with studying as applied to your learning style: http://blog.centers.saintleo.edu/blog/the-3-types-of-learning-styles-how-to-use-them-for-college-success
Learning how to identify learning styles and how to teach to the different learning styles at all times to reach as many students as possible is important to your success as a teacher.
Are there only three learning styles? What are VARK learning styles:
One of the most accepted understandings of learning styles is that student learning styles fall into three “categories:” Visual Learners, Auditory Learners and Kinesthetic Learners. These learning styles are found within educational theorist Neil Fleming’s VARK model of Student Learning. VARK is an acronym that refers to the four types of learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic. (The VARK model is also referred to as the VAK model, eliminating Reading/Writing as a category of preferential learning.) The VARK model acknowledges that students have different approaches to how they process information, referred to as “preferred learning modes.” The main ideas of VARK are outlined in Learning Styles Again: VARKing up the right tree! (Fleming & Baume, 2006)
- Students’ preferred learning modes have significant influence on their behavior and learning.
- Students’ preferred learning modes should be matched with appropriate learning strategies.
- Information that is accessed through students’ use of their modality preferences shows an increase in their levels of comprehension, motivation and metacognition.
Identifying your students as visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic learners, and aligning your overall curriculum with these learning styles, will prove to be beneficial for your entire classroom. Allowing students to access information in terms they are comfortable with will increase their academic confidence.
Tips for accommodating learning styles: https://teach.com/what/teachers-teach/learning-styles/
But, are there only three learning styles?
Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience at Harvard, developed one theory in 1983. Gardner defines “intelligence” not as an IQ but, rather, as the skills that enable anyone to gain new knowledge and solve problems.
Gardner proposed that there are several different types of intelligences, or learning styles.
- Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart) – People who possess this learning style learn best through reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Verbal students absorb information by engaging with reading materials and by discussing and debating ideas.
- Logical-Mathematical (Logic Smart) – Those who exhibit this type of intelligence learn by classifying, categorizing, and thinking abstractly about patterns, relationships, and numbers.
- Visual-Spatial (Picture Smart) – These people learn best by drawing or visualizing things using the mind’s eye. Visual people learn the most from pictures, diagrams, and other visual aids.
- Auditory-Musical (Music Smart) – Students who are music smart learn using rhythm or melody, especially by singing or listening to music.
- Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart) – Body-smart individuals learn best through touch and movement. These people are best at processing information through the body. Sometimes kinesthetic learners work best standing up and moving rather than sitting still.
- Interpersonal (People Smart) – Those who are people smart learn through relating to others by sharing, comparing, and cooperating. Interpersonal learners can make excellent group leaders and team players.
- Intrapersonal (Self Smart) – Intrapersonal-intelligent people learn best by working alone and setting individual goals. Intrapersonal learners are not necessarily shy; they are independent and organized.
- Naturalistic (Nature Smart) – Naturalistics learn by working with nature. Naturalistic students enjoy learning about living things and natural events. They may excel in the sciences and be very passionate about environmental issues.
Accepting Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences has several implications for teachers in terms of classroom instruction. The theory states that all seven intelligences are needed to productively function in society. Teachers, therefore, should think of all intelligences as equally important. This is in great contrast to traditional education systems which typically place a strong emphasis on the development and use of verbal and mathematical intelligences. Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that educators should recognize and teach to a broader range of talents and skills.
Another implication is that teachers should structure the presentation of material in a style which engages most or all of the intelligences. For example, when teaching about the revolutionary war, a teacher can show students battle maps, play revolutionary war songs, organize a role play of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and have the students read a novel about life during that period. This kind of presentation not only excites students about learning, but it also allows a teacher to reinforce the same material in a variety of ways. By activating a wide assortment of intelligences, teaching in this manner can facilitate a deeper understanding of the subject material.
Everyone is born possessing the seven intelligences. Nevertheless, all students will come into the classroom with different sets of developed intelligences. This means that each child will have his own unique set of intellectual strengths and weaknesses. These sets determine how easy (or difficult) it is for a student to learn information when it is presented in a particular manner. This is commonly referred to as a learning style. Many learning styles can be found within one classroom. Therefore, it is impossible, as well as impractical, for a teacher to accommodate every lesson to all of the learning styles found within the classroom. Nevertheless the teacher can show students how to use their more developed intelligences to assist in the understanding of a subject which normally employs their weaker intelligences (Lazear, 1992). For example, the teacher can suggest that an especially musically intelligent child learn about the revolutionary war by making up a song about what happened. http://ericae.net/digests/tm9601.htm
The teacher of adults has a different job from the one who teaches children. If you’re teaching adult students, for the best results it’s important to understand and practice five principles espoused by Malcolm Knowles, a pioneer in the study of adult learning. He observed that adults learn best when:
- They understand why something is important to know or do.
- They have the freedom to learn in their own way.
- Learning is experiential.
- The time is right for them to learn.
- The process is positive and encouraging.
Principle 1: Make Sure Your Adult Students Understand “Why”
Most adult students are in your classroom because they want to be. Some of them are there because they have Continuing Education requirements to keep a certificate current, but most are there because they’ve chosen to learn something new.
This principle is not about why your students are in your classroom, but about why each thing you teach them is an important part of the learning. I’ll use my own pickle-making lesson as an example.
When I learned to make pickles, my teacher and neighbor, Marilyn, helped me understand by including why.
- It’s important to soak the cucumbers in ice water over night. This helps make the pickles crisp.
- If you put a towel under the jars in the canner, they won’t bounce against each other and break.
- When sterilizing the jars, it’s important to fill each at least halfway with water, AND fill the canner they’re sitting in with water. Too little water and the towel mentioned in the previous bullet will catch on fire. You know this kind of information comes from experience.
Principle 2: Respect that Your Students Have Different Learning Styles
There are three general learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
Visual learners rely on pictures. They love graphs, diagrams, and illustrations. “Show me,” is their motto. They often sit in the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions and to watch you, the teacher.
They want to know what the subject looks like. You can best communicate with them by providing handouts, writing on the white board, and using phrases like, “Do you see how this works?”
Auditory learners listen carefully to all sounds associated with the learning. “Tell me,” is their motto. They will pay close attention to the sound of your voice and all of its subtle messages, and they will actively participate in discussions. You can best communicate with them by speaking clearly, asking questions, and using phrases like, “How does that sound to you?”
Tactile or kinesthetic learners need to physically do something to understand it. Their motto is “Let me do it.” They trust their feelings and emotions about what they’re learning and how you’re teaching it. They want to actually touch what they’re learning. They are the ones who will get up and help you with role playing. You can best communicate with them by involving volunteers, allowing them to practice what they’re learning, and using phrases like, “How do you feel about that?”
Pickle Example: I’m generally a kinesthetic learner. Marilyn talked to me about her pickling process, explaining why she uses the ingredients she does, and showed me how she dips a liquid measuring cup into the hot brine and pours it into the jar using a wide-mouthed funnel, but my greatest learning came when I fumbled through the second jar all by myself.
Most people use all three styles while they’re learning, and of course, this is logical since we all have five senses, barring any disabilities, but one style almost always is preferred.
The big question is, “How do you, as the teacher, know which student has which learning style?” Without training in neuro-linguistics, it might be difficult, but conducting a short learning style assessment at the beginning of your class would benefit you and the students. This information is as valuable to the student as it is to you.
There are several learning style assessments available online, some better than others. I like the one at Ageless Learner.
Principle 3: Allow Your Students to Experience What They’re Learning
Experience can take many forms. Any activity that gets your students involved makes the learning experiential. This includes small group discussions, experiments, role playing, skits, building something at their table or desk, writing or drawing something specific – activity of any kind. Activities also keep people energized, especially activities that involve getting up and moving about.
The other aspect of this principle is honoring the life experiences your students bring to the classroom. Be sure to tap into that wealth of wisdom whenever it’s appropriate. You’ll have to be a good timekeeper because people can talk for hours when asked for personal experiences, but the extra facilitation needed will be well worth the gems your students have to share.
Pickle Example: Once Marilyn had shown me how to prepare one jar, she busied herself in the kitchen doing her own thing, close enough to keep an eye on me and to answer my questions, but allowing me the autonomy to go at my own speed. When I made mistakes, she didn’t interfere unless I asked. She gave me the space and the time to correct them on my own.
Principle 4: When the Student Is Ready, the Teacher Appears
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears” is a Buddhist proverb packed with wisdom. No matter how hard a teacher tries, if the student isn’t ready to learn, chances are good he or she won’t. What does this mean for you as a teacher of adults? Luckily, your students are in your classroom because they want to be. They’ve already determined that the time is right.
It’s your job to listen carefully for teaching moments and take advantage of them. When a student says or does something that triggers a topic on your agenda, be flexible and teach it right then. If that would wreak havoc on your schedule, which is often the case, teach a bit about it rather than saying flat out that they’ll have to wait until later in the program.
By then, you may have lost their interest.
Pickle Example: My mom canned pickles all during my childhood years, but I had no interest in participating, or even in eating them, sadly. Several years ago, I helped Marilyn can pickles, and even then, I was simply helping and not really learning. When I finally started enjoying pickles and planted my own cucumbers, then I was ready to learn, and Marilyn was right there to teach me.
Principle 5: Encourage Your Adult Students
For most adults, being out of the classroom for even a few years can make going back to school intimidating. If they haven’t taken a class in decades, it’s understandable that they would have some degree of apprehension about what it will be like and how well they’ll do.
It can be tough to be a rookie when you’ve been an expert in your field for many, many years. Nobody enjoys feeling foolish.
Your job as a teacher of adult students includes being positive and encouraging. Patience helps too. Give your older students time to respond when you ask a question. They may need a few moments to consider their answer.
Recognize the contributions they make, even when small. Give them words of encouragement whenever the opportunity arises. Most adults will rise to your expectationsif you’re clear about them.
A word of caution here. Being positive and encouraging is not the same as being condescending. Always remember that your students are adults. Speaking to them in the tone of voice you might use with a child is offensive, and the damage can be very difficult to overcome. Genuine encouragement from one person to another, regardless of age, is a wonderful point of human interaction.
Pickle example: I’m a worrier. I worried about spilling brine all over Marilyn’s stove, about dropping the full jars as I lifted them out of the hot bath, about making a mess of her kitchen. Marilyn assured me that spills were easily cleaned up, especially when vinegar was involved since it’s used for cleaning anyway! She encouraged me as I gingerly moved boiling hot jars. Throughout the pickle-making process, Marilyn remained calm, unruffled. She paused by me every once in a while to comment, “Oh, don’t they look beautiful!”
Because of Marilyn’s understanding of how to teach me, her adult student, the art of making dill pickles, I now have the confidence to make them in my own kitchen, and I can’t wait for my next batch of cucumbers to be ready.
This is your challenge as a teacher of adults. Beyond teaching your subject, you have the opportunity to inspire confidence and passion in another human being. That kind of teaching changes lives.
Key Skills and Strengths
- Compassion and Sensitivity: Most of the student will be from very disadvantaged backgrounds. They will not have earned a high school diploma, or they may even be incarcerated if you choose to work in a correctional facility. A desire to understand why your students are where they are, and being motivated to help them, will keep you going strong in this career path.
- Communication: Being able to talk with your students, to hear what they need from you, and to work with them to create a classroom environment that meets their needs is key to garnering trust between you and your students.
- Flexibility: Unlike teaching, say, introductory algebra every year, the needs and skill levels of your students in an adult ed. classroom will vary dramatically. Some will come hoping to earn a GED, while others may be barely able to read. You must be adaptable and ready to change your lessons to meet each student’s needs.
- Available to meet a non-traditional schedule: Unlike a public school teacher, your hours will not be a regular 8-4 schedule. You will likely teach classes very early, at nights, or even on weekends to accommodate your students’ work schedules.