Educators must remember that learning occurs within each individual as a continual process throughout life. People learn at different speeds, so it is natural for them to be anxious or nervous when faced with a learning situation. Positive reinforcement by the instructor can enhance learning, as can proper timing of the instruction.
Learning results from stimulation of the senses. In some people, one sense is used more than others to learn or recall information. Instructors should present materials that stimulates as many senses as possible in order to increase their chances of teaching success.
There are four critical elements of learning that must be addressed to ensure that participants learn. These elements are:
1. Motivation: If the participant does not recognize the need for the information (or has been offended or intimidated), all of the instructor’s effort to assist the participant to learn will be in vain. The instructor must establish rapport with participants and prepare them for learning; this provides motivation.
2. Reinforcement: Reinforcement is a very necessary part of the teaching/learning process; through it, instructors encourage correct modes of behavior and performance.
3. Retention: Students must retain information from classes in order to benefit from the learning. The instructors’ jobs are not finished until they have assisted the learner in retaining the information. In order for participants to retain the information taught, they must see a meaning or purpose for that information. The must also understand and be able to interpret and apply the information. This understanding includes their ability to assign the correct degree of importance to the material.
4. Transference: Transfer of learning is the result of training — it is the ability to use the information taught in the course but in a new setting. As with reinforcement, there are two types of transfer: positive and negative.
Although adult learning is relatively new as field of study, it is just as substantial as traditional education and carries and potential for greater success. Of course, the heightened success requires a greater responsibility on the part of the teacher. Additionally, the learners come to the course with precisely defined expectations. Unfortunately, there are barriers to their learning. The best motivators for adult learners are interest and selfish benefit. If they can be shown that the course benefits them pragmatically, they will perform better, and the benefits will be longer lasting.
An aspect of adult learning is motivation. At least six factors serve as sources of motivation for adult learning from social relationships, to making new friends, to cognitive interests.
- Social relationships – to make new friends, to meet a need for associations and friendships.
- External expectations – to comply with instructions from someone else; to fulfill the expectations or recommendations of someone with formal authority.
- Social welfare – to improve ability to serve mankind, prepare for service to the community, and improve ability to participate in community work.
- Personal advancement – to achieve higher status in a job, secure professional advancement, and stay abreast of competitors.
- Escape/Stimulation – to relieve boredom, provide a break in the routine of home or work, and provide a contrast to other exacting details of life.
- Cognitive interest – to learn for the sake of learning, seek knowledge for its own sake, and to satisfy an inquiring mind.
Barriers and Motivation
Unlike children and teenagers, adults have many responsibilities that they must balance against the demands of learning. Because of these responsibilities, adults have barriers against participating in learning. Some of these barriers include lack of time, money, confidence, or interest, lack of information about opportunities to learn, scheduling problems, “red tape,” and problems with child care and transportation.
Motivation factors can also be a barrier. What motivates adult learners? Typical motivations include a requirement for competence or licensing, an expected (or realized) promotion, job enrichment, a need to maintain old skills or learn new ones, a need to adapt to job changes, or the need to learn in order to comply with company directives.
The best way to motivate adult learners is simply to enhance their reasons for enrolling and decrease the barriers. Instructors must learn why their students are enrolled (the motivators); they have to discover what is keeping them from learning. Then the instructors must plan their motivating strategies. A successful strategy includes showing adult learners the relationship between training and an expected promotion.
Dr. Montessori’s theories are in line with modern psychologists who acknowledge the influence of both nature and nurture in the development of the child.
She writes about the ‘inherited characteristics’ and ‘pre-determined patterns of behaviour’, but she also advocates the very strong influence of environmental conditions. Dr Montessori recognised the passive nature of the child and maintained that they pass through a period of absorbing all the sensations that come from the environment in which they live. She also recognised the strong active nature of the child which allows children to freedom to select their own activities spontaneously. Maria Montessori had great intuition and a marvellous insight to recognise that the growing baby had both keen sensitivities and a highly absorbent mind to take in impressions and learn patterns of human behaviour, cultural knowledge and skills through a series of personal experiences offered in the environment that surrounds him.
Dr. Montessori observed that nature has taken great care to give certain special sensitivities and a very receptive mind to aid the unconscious learning processes within the child which gradually build up a strata of knowledge in the subconscious, all of which play a vital part in the laying of the basic foundation of characteristics that will form the individual personality. From her observations of children, she formed the idea that a world of people could exist that would be an improvement on what was already in existence. She was convinced that the whole human condition could be improved if we would ‘follow the child’.
Montessori believed that all conflicts could be solved by developing the great potentialities of the human personality whilst the child is still ‘under construction’. She believed that the child possesses an intrinsic motivation towards his own self-construction. Maria Montessori’s concept of the child’s self-construction needs to be carefully explained. This idea is the central point of her whole educational philosophy.
Both the child rearing practices and educational methods she advocated are grounded in her ideas of the child’s self-construction. Montessori drew attention to her idea that the child has two ‘creative sensibilities’, an ‘absorbent mind’ and ‘sensitive periods’, both of which are internal aids which make the child’s adaptation to the environment possible.
Potentialities of Man
Montessori had very specific ideas about the way children grow and develop. She believed that we are all born with a unique combination of certain predominant behaviour patterns, universal among humans, which she called the ‘tendencies of man’ or the ‘human potentialities’. Montessori observed children all over the world, in a variety of settings and she was able to identify fourteen specific traits which she considered to make up the totality of the human potentialities.
Growth of one’s potentialities proceeds according to natural staged or sensitive periods. If one’s urge is satisfied by suitable environmental conditions, then growth will occur – the potentialities are fulfilled.
Here are some thoughts on the differences between Montessori Education and Traditional Education. People often ask what is the difference? Here are some points explaining what Montessori Education is all about.
Dr. Maria Montessori said: “Our aim is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.”
- The students are honored not the system.
- The students are offered reasonable choice regarding how the lessons are presented, and at what speed.
- The curriculum is flexible for each individual child, often changing based on who is doing the learning in a certain group.
- The children and teachers not the system are responsible for setting the learning standards.
- Teachers have great autonomy within their own student groups.
- Old educational paradigms are not worshiped. New ideas are welcome.
- Assessments are constantly changed and reworked to fit the students skills and awareness as well as the information being taught and absorbed. (Nothing is worse than very bright children doing lessons that are too easy).
A constantly changing way of doing things is the norm throughout the history of the institution. It is probably controversial as it challenges that which does not serve the child. Give some thought about these points and if they resonate with you, please investigate your options further. All we, as parents, can give our children the following 3 things: Love, Values and Education.
How should students behave at School?
We, the students, take responsibility for learning. This means:
- We arrive at school on time.
- We are prepared for class.
- We demonstrate a serious and responsible attitude in daily work.
- Homework is carefully and thoughtfully completed and on time.
We, the students, try to settle our differences in a peaceful manner. This means:
- We respect other people’s property and personal space.
- We do not physically or verbally fight with other children.
- We do not take anything that does not belong to us.
We, the students, follow the directions of adults in charge. This means:
- We look at the speaker.
- We do not talk back to teachers or adults in charge.This includes EVERYONE.
We, the students, are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. This means:
- We use appropriate language at all times.
- We do not bully or tease other children.
- We never boo or whistle in group sessions.
- We are willing to help each other.
- We are friendly and courteous.
We, the students, are expected to move safely through the school. This means:
- No playing around in the bathrooms or stairs.
- No running in the cloakroom or up and down stairs.
School is a special place and time for all, and requires that everyone perform to the best of their capabilities at all times. These are some serious guidelines for students and if followed, students will be able to achieve and reach their goals.