Tag Archives: adult learning

OWN’s ‘Lifeclass’ could take a lesson in educating adults

Watching “Lifeclass” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is a welcomed change from other shows, because it teaches what the true meaning of reality tv should be: About real problems with real people for real change.

While well intended, the lifeclass still promotes a traditional method of lecturing, preaching, even pontificating that although entertaining, misses its mark in producing the real-life changes that the classes profess.

The most recent example comes from the session on “fatherless sons,” which should be wholly commended for confronting a key societal issue in America.  Although I grew up with a loving father, I see areas that I can become a better father myself.

More to the point, I am also a professional in adult learning.  Which may not mean much, until there are issues revealing that adults learn different from children and require a different approach within education.   In the fatherless sons’ session, Drs. Geoffrey Canada and Steve Perry were featured guests, but their professional backgrounds have been traditional elementary and secondary schooling.

Adult education is not schooling or college.  It does not require achieving a degree of credentials, rather its aim is the highest degree of self-worth, lifelong learning, experience-sharing and problem-solving together with fellow adults.

One of the best teaching approaches in adult learning and education is the discussion method.  In essence, it is an organized way of talking that is not idle conversation, panel format, or oratory performance.  It requires examining situations by drawing from adults’ experiences, sharing knowledge, and allowing adults to identify next steps for action and experimentation.

Instead, Dr. Canada prescribed eight ways that fathers could “reconnect with their sons” as if all of these men were his 8th-grade kids in Harlem.  Some of these men do have deep-rooted and unidentified pain as fatherless sons, but they also bring a resourceful depth of experiences to draw upon, which can help them learn to become better men, fathers, sons, and needed leaders in our American society.

Adults being parents (fathers or mothers) could be better served by discovering their own steps through organized discussion, and creating the “life class” as a lifelong learning community  to support their journeys.


State of Continuing Education 2012

Presenting the ‘State of Continuing Education’ comes with at least two outdated and conflicting terms. Some changes have occurred, but many have not. We have been hopeful and disappointed, gone through set-backs and have led the way.

We see Education has taken many forms and have been used for different purposes. The challenge going forward will involve defining the education you need among multiple options. Some are costly, many are cheaper, a few are unnecessary, but all of them will teach.

Learning has also come into fashion, which makes it harder to determine its real impact. The shift has turned away from learning individually to learning as a group, with a community, or in a society.

It appears that problems will define what we decide to learn, instead of also curiosity. Although both are needed, the expectations for education and learning to provide solutions and credentials on a timeline, within a budget, for a job and trying to keep one, are trending increasingly higher.

What is getting better and expanding is that education is not just k-12, but throughout a lifetime.  What will be interesting to see is whether adults will capture all of their grade-school experiences, good and bad, and return back to these schools and improve them: Wouldn’t that be continuing education?

Transforming Passion into Profession

If you have read any of my blog postings before, I mention how pursuing one’s passions are mostly a good thing. Although passions endure with a healthy dose of sacrifice in pursuit of their ultimate end.

One of my passions has been writing to you about how I think lifelong learning and continuing education is not just a luxury but an essential component to growth regardless of age or year in school.

But I realize that my passion is limited and must continue to grow as well. It must change from just being convenient expressions into a disciplined position coupled with dedication. In other words, my passions must be taken seriously. They must transform into an enduring profession.

What do I mean? Take for example a professional singer. What is the difference between a professional singer and one who sings occasionally at parties and get-togethers? Both are likely to receive applause from their audiences, but an obvious difference would be that the professional receives money, while the occasional singer may not. But this kind of answer is too simple and short-sighted. Since both singers are passionate about singing, it would be very likely that in most cases both would sing for free.

What I think the larger difference is that the professional singer will sing even when she doesn’t feel like it. She’ll sing when she has a sore throat, haven’t slept, or experience life changes, such as death of a love one or fight with a close friend. The occasional singer would find these changes as legitimate reasons for not entertaining this time; the professional singer continues on.

This must be the same case concerning my passions for lifelong learning and education. Whatever form I may use to express them, either writing books, articles, or still blog postings; conducting speeches, workshops, or sessions, all must be carried out with an unwavering focus. Because I realize something else about the professional singer: She sings as a treat for us, but therapy for herself. Singing can make all that befalls her seem bearable, can make her gray day become a yellow one, and her saddened heart a source of energy underneath her songs.

Perhaps the real reason why I give the analogy of learning to singing, is because I can’t sing though I wish I could. Yet more important, the analogy provides me a score to keep writing, keep learning and of course, continue on.

Is ‘Learning’ for a Reason, Season, or Lifetime?

A quick answer: Yes! Although this response depends on what ‘learning’ means for different people. Learning how to read, for instance, could mean something different from learning how to rap, text, or even write a blog. With countless examples like these, people can come up with all kinds of reasons for learning.

Same goes for the seasons for learning. They are timeframes that could range from months in a year, years of age, or an age and era representing the sign-of-the-times. It would follow that a lifetime for learning includes learning that never ends and continues throughout every stage of living.

So why the question? Well, simply to highlight the power of choices, but the limitations that comes with decisions. The question, “is learning for a reason, season, or lifetime” can suggest a selection that must be made between them. If made, at that very moment, learning is limited by that decision. In fact, learning is even limited by posing a question with only three options.

So I leave you with a thought: What would learning be without limitations?  Imagine if we never had to make up reasons for learning, such as having to wait next Fall to start school,  or planning for milestone ages of 30, 40, and 50-years-old as new opportunities to learn more.  

If learning was limitless and without these options, what would you choose?        


Lifestyle Change for Lifelong Learning

The best, top-ranked, and most popular blogs on lifelong learning, continuing education, and adult learning are often passed over. Not because of their importance, but just being hard to find in most media and blog directories. If you wanted to browse these topics on Yahoo! Huffington Post, or Technorati, just to name a few, there is no specific section dedicated to the education or learning of adults. To be fair, you might find some related clip on DIY (do-it-yourself), still all of them are lumped into a catch-all category called ‘Lifestyle.’

Lifestyle suggests a preference and choice rather than being essential. Perhaps this explains why education after high-school has become an option and not a given right.

Some argue for ‘lifelong learning’, but it can also suggest an individual’s role to find bits of information in the same way of deciding what clothes to wear, movies to watch, or cellphones to text and never talk from.  These other choices are indeed lifestyle preferences; should creating an education also be one of them?

This explains why I prefer using the expression, ‘lifelong education’: Simply to promote and advance a discussion about how our community colleges, universities, even professional, technical and vocational schools have a societal role and responsibility to be continual partners in our educational need.

In the meantime, I would suggest a re-classification, a proverbial ‘lifestyle change’,  in how lifelong learning and continuing education is grouped in media outlets.  Who knows, it might not only change our choice of living, but also our style of learning.