Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's Have a Meeting (or Not)

One thing I have learned in my time in adult education is that teaching in mass does not work as well for adults as it does with children and teens. Actually, I don't know that it works too well with youngsters, but most of them have not formed a persona that they do not intend to change. Adults have, and therein lies the difference.

A group of kids can be whipped into a frenzy (think pep rally) much more easily than a group of adults. Oh, there are inspirational speakers who can get adults onboard. Preachers and politicians can do that, but it works best if everyone in the room has the same set of beliefs.

To effect any change in adults, even small changes, requires one-on-one or very small group instruction.

In ancient times, a young man would be apprenticed to an older craftsman, and the mentor would guide the young person. This still happens, but usually outside of "formal education." In my hometown, there was a family in the construction business. While we were all growing up the young ladies in that family went to college, but the young men all went to work in the family business. Each of those young men got a heck of an education, and I imagine that they learned math, science, writing, leadership, and philosophy from their dad, who was a master builder. Oh, and they can make stuff, too.

Anyone who teaches or supervises adults would do well to adopt the mentor and apprentice model. During my tenure in secondary school, I sat through any number of sessions which were conducted by adults for adults, using the "one size fits all" lecture method. Seldom did the session achieve the intended goal. Instead, most people gathered afterward to commiserate or retaliate. Therefore, I postulate that work related meetings should be banned, unless, of course, there is a pep rally going on.

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