Thursday, May 03, 2007

Philosophies of Learning

As a teacher/trainer we have inbuilt concepts and philosophies that guide us in the beliefs we have on education, and how we should train, teach or facilitate learning. We may not realise what these philosophies are and will act automatically on a day to basis without realising we have them, by identifying our philosophies we can locate a vast amount of information to assist us gaining a holistic understanding of adult education and obtain a framework for us to utilise as an adult educator to ensure we understand the needs of the learners.

Why should we have a philosophy? Well, some of the reasons noted by Hiemstra (1998) have been that having a philosophy can highlight an understanding of human relationships, it can help us to be sensitive and realise the requirements for positive exchanges towards other people, it can provide us with a framework for understanding personal values, and promotes flexibility and consistency when working with adult learners. All these principles are imperative to realising the intricate balance we as teachers/trainers require when involved in the education of adult learners.

As educators we should practice the art of reflection on all aspects of training not just the action of delivery, but ourselves, our views and beliefs, what influences us and how we influence the students. With regards to creating and understanding your philosophy try asking yourself;

• What are your perspectives on adult education,
• What is the role of the teacher and that of the learner,
• What are your ethical beliefs around standards of practice, certification and standards of teaching/ training?
• Why have a philosophy?

Once you have answered these questions have a look at the table below , you may identify where you believe you sit within the educational philosophies, however to gain a true indication I suggest you fill in the Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory by Lorraine M Zinn, PhD. This inventory assists you in truly determining where your philosophy lies and can be found at .

Below is a table adapted from Galbraith , M(1990) outlining Philosophies and Traditions of Adult Education;


Hiemstra, R. 1998, Translating Personal Values and Philosophy into Practical Action, in R.Brockett (ed) Ethical Issues in Adult Education, Columbia University, New York, pp.178-191.

Galbraith, M. 1990 Adult Leaning Methods, Ed. Kreiger, Florida.