Leading the adult horse to water……

Learning in an adult world is not like being at school…

As the saying goes……you can lead the horse, but you cannot make it drink. Nothing is truer in the context of adult learning and two decades of experience has taught us some fundamentals that need to be in place to support the change in the workplace.

    1. Here is our top 10 list for success when working with a group of adult learners;

      1. Adults come to learning with years of experience; It works when you acknowledge that adults come to a learning event with a sack-full of beliefs, experiences, values and excuses that could make the ‘new way’ and anathema to them – the only way to change that is for them to help change their beliefs associated with that
      2. Adults need direction to learn effectively; It works when adults direct their own learning on the basis of their own perceived needs… when they are working towards goals they have set for themselves and that are meaningful to them
      3. Make sure that learning is centred around things they need to ‘fix’; It works with a ‘problem’ based structure to learning rather than a ‘subject’ based approach –
      4. Use the group to discover the learning; It works when the ‘trainer’ is a facilitator of learning, rather than a teacher….an equal partner in the journey, harvesting the knowledge in the room and staying with the belief that within the room, the collective knowledge already exists
      5. Build in variety; It works when you get people engaged in the topic……every 20 minutes they MUST ‘do something’. Listening to the ‘trainer’s’ font of knowledge (no matter how fascinating) is a learning killer
      6. Be pragmatic, not ‘clever’; It works when you use their language – cut out the ‘theory’ – stay in practical, applicable and understandable terms….from their world
      7. Learning in the ‘moment of need’ helps get traction; It works when what you are doing is the right time for your audience; them leaving with a set of tools and new skills that they need to use NOW means that the learning and behaviour change is reinforced immediately. If they don’t use it…..they’ll lose it!
      8. It is much more than the classroom experience; It works when the learning is reinforced back in the work-place – line managers, self-learning, coaching….reinforce, reinforce, reinforce
      9. Connect, engage, have fun; It works when you take the ‘serious’ out of learning and engage with the real people in the room
      10. Create a nurturing environment; It works when you make it safe to learn…being OK with being uncomfortable, because ‘nothing grows in the comfort zone’

Adults are not children…they instinctively learn in a different way…so you need to embrace that to increase your chances of success. Build these success criteria into your learning design, you will be more successful and you will see change happen more readily

If you found this article interesting please share and/or comment…..and if you would like to find out more, please contact us for more inspiration and information about what we do.

Alex Selwood