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Teacher training in India Part 2

Knowles’ theory of andragogy is an attempt to develop a theory specifically for adult learning. Knowles emphasizes that adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. Adult learning programs must accommodate this fundamental aspect.Click here for details)

1 have 2 anecdotes to illustrate adult learning principles here. Believe me I did not even know the meaning of the word andragogy till 2 years ago! My work has been quite instinctive.

In a workshop where I started sharing my ideas, I found a teacher growing more and more uncomfortable. After a while she asked, 
“Are we supposed to use all these ideas in the classes?”
I said, “No way…it took me 20 years to develop these. Can you start with ONE?”

The teacher’s defensive attitude fell and she was more open, immediately.
What did I do?
I gave her “Choice”.
Adults require choice. To give them a structure and expect to work within it does not work, especially for such a fluid space such as a classroom.

You can either believe that you have it all or believe that the teacher has autonomy in her situation. If you believe the latter, then you would develop what is called “Adaptive Expertise” (Schunk, 2012, p133). “An expertise that is adaptable and open to be challenged. This is developed when one gets used to rethinking what one knows, allows oneself to be challenged and drop old views”.  

Simply put, the triple As of - Adapt, Accommodate, Adjust – as given by TanuShree Borundia of the Bangalore school called Shibumi.

I am a big proponent of “cooperative learning” in class. I stopped in my tracks when a teacher said, ‘but my classes have benches, how will I move them?” And then started the brainstorming exercise of how we can adapt our physical spaces to make cooperative learning possible.

Another time a teacher invited me to her class and try cooperative learning. At the end of it I said, “no way!” Not for this class.

I realized that no strategy is great. Hence I can only suggest the strategies to the teachers and help them adapt in their classes. But they need to have the autonomy to take the final call.
Choice and Autonomy…overlapping concepts yet different. Both step from respecting the space that the teacher has in her class.

Coming up next: Using principles of humanity to develop connect with the teachers.

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