Theories of Learning

On facilitative learning…

I think I mostly subscribe to the Humanist theory of learning. The excerpt from Karl Rogers on facilitative learning really rang true to me. He describes the atmosphere of excitement when a group is transformed into a community of learners as being ‘beyond belief’. I think I have experienced something like this on occasion with groups. It is really extraordinary when there is a palatable sense of openness, trust, curiosity and exploration in a group. It seems to me opportunity for learning deepens in such an atmosphere. I recall a statement by Blake and Mouton (I think) that said “we learn when we are emotionally open”. That really struck me and has stuck with me and it’s a goal for me to create such an atmosphere in a learning situation.  Rogers seems to elucidate a way to facilitate this atmosphere… It’s exciting to explore this further.

What rubs me a bit with the Behaviorism theory is that the source of knowledge is from outside or ‘the experts’ and that you simply need to control the environment and everyone will get it. It seems this approach is a bit autocratic and does not respect the individual’s potential. I guess I am revolting a bit against this approach because it seems mostly uninspiring. I do realize that ‘measurable change’ is something that is goal, but I feel it’s important to consider the person. If learning indeed takes place when we are emotionally open, then it would be important to consider how to create (or facilitate the creation of ) this environment.

And yes, I realize that Behaviorist and Cognitive learning theories also play a role in our learning – sometimes we do have to learn something practical… & understanding the thought process that underlies learning can be very valuable. I’m interested to now learn more about the 2 other theories – Social Cognitive and Constructivist (I think this is more experientially based – that’s in this week’s reading…)

I’m excited to be exploring the various aspects of adult learning in a more formal way. It really begins round out some of the knowledge and experiences I’ve had in the past 10-15 years in adult education, which I came participate in with little formal training. There is something to be said about ‘learning by doing’ – I seem to really get it at another level when I actually have to put something into practice (and it seems to be a continual and cyclical process). However, it’s also facinating to be exposed to the experience and thinking of many who have worked and studied the field for a long time.


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