Monday, June 1, 2009

Adult Learning Circles - the practice


The Learning Circles Project - where unique individuals are equally accepted, they share with one another, celebrate their strengths, courage, wisdom. We do not remediate weaknesses, so much as develop our strengths and talents. Circles are a good metaphor, in than no one person is better than another. Adult learners face much that affects their ability to fully participate in society; participation in an adult learning group must be ensured by a strong advocate who respects them as valuable group members.

Many may not have had a good experience in schools. The facilitator must embrace differences, laud similarities, and encourage all to learn at the level that is best for them. Exploring possibilities, learning together, and from each other, ensures success. Whether we do something simple like writing a cheque, or follow a recipe, fill in a form, or create a complex RFP.

Like climbing a mountain, a team must return safely, as friends, and successfully climb over the mountain. Individuals must respect individual needs, goals, and desires. Literacy Consultants must encourage all to activate their gifts, invigorate participants lives, learn about themselves, research issues and questions of personal importance, educate the community, and advocate for social and policy change. We do not race to the top, but consider the journey the adventure.

Paulo Freire, the father of union workers who strived for improved adult literacy skills, said we are not beings of adaptation but transformation. This is similar to the theories of Piaget.
  • Observe then discuss your reality
  • Read and write about your reality
  • Analyse then transform your reality.
To incorporate our insights, intuitions and dreams will activate the learner to challenge preconceptions about themselves and their lives, to change the way they feel, relate, think, and act.

Groups must be welcoming, inclusive, supportive, flexible, non-hierarchical, self-managed, exploratory and community focused.


This is the way that we actualize our learning, We can internalize knowledge, skills and attitudes that will best help us maintain positive patterns and to react to every day learning situations with that attitude of one who finds a challenge, not a barrier.

Some adult learners come to a place from which they have realized discrimination, oppression or violence. A learning circle must be one that is inclusive, non-judgmental, open, safe and free.

This builds a synergistic collaborative community in which group members feel accepted and, indeed, celebrated for being who they are, not for who they think others believe they should be. The successful facilitator sends learners out into the world with the strength and knowledge that they are valuable, where they only need to look within for comfort, acceptance and rejuvenation and do not depend upon others for self-worth and sustenance. This type of growth has an impact on the learner, his/her family, friends, and community, and leads to a better sense of who they are and what they can be.

Barriers to adult learners occur when learners feel they
  • Must write perfectly every time, and that mistakes are not allowed
  • Must follow one path to success
  • Must come out with specific knowledge, skills and values
  • Must meet particular time constraints.
Learners must feel that their gender, culture, traditions, values, and learning styles and modalities are all acceptable and honoured. They know that their facilitator values the process of learning, and not the product, that the transmission of information is less important than mastering the mastery of the learning process. Life experiences are an important part of the learner, and as valuable as traditional, more rigid and formal education opportunities.

It is important that learning in all domains are accepted, literacy, numeracy, .
Break down isolation, create networks, provide personal support, community development and cultural reclamation. We can increase understanding while we appreciate personal differences.


Literacy: an integrative strategy

incorporating various theories of intelligences:


including curriculum adapted to gender, culture, previous knowledge and experiences.

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