PIDP 3100 Journal Entry # Category 1
“21st Century competencies include deep understanding, flexibility and the capacity to make creative connections and a range of so-called ‘soft skills’ including good team-working.” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 4)
I find this quote as very enlightening as it brings to light what should be the real focus of education for the instructor as well as the learners. Intelligence is not something related to the factual knowledge and higher academic achievement. It is more related in the ability to cope up with the situations. It has been increasingly realized that success and progression in professional, social and personal relationships depends to a large extent on the ability to manage stress and time, interpersonal skills involving good communication and problem solving skills. In the era of globalization where the world is changing at a fast pace with a new invention or discovery adding every other day creating stiff competition in global market, employers prefer such employees who can adapt themselves to this fast changing scenario, achieve favorable results within tight deadlines while maintaining cordial relations with their colleagues and clients. Good academic record (hard skills) may help a candidate to enter into workforce, but to keep up with expectations of the employer in ever changing economy and to retain and thrive in career, one needs to be more adept in soft skills. I constantly keep on one searching for latest job postings and have been amazed by the fact that the employers post a long list of soft skills as a requirement for the job opportunities in addition to the technical skills. Greenberg and Nilssen (Wainhouse Research, 2014) through their study found that the stakeholders in education considered problem-solving and collaborative skills as the two top soft skills on which schools should be focusing while they believed that schools focus too much on “teaching to the test,” solitary (alone) work, and individual achievement, whereas teamwork, group achievement, and collaboration with others outside of the classroom all receive too little focus. This study throws light on how the significance of soft skills is being increasingly realized by the stakeholders.
As a teacher, this quote makes me realize that achievement of a student should not be solely weighted upon his ability to give right answers to the questions but rather to apply the skills and knowledge learned according to the needs of a particular situation. Rather than acting as a mere dispenser of information teaching students to achieve good grades in examination aiming at individual achievement, we’ teachers should prepare the students for group dynamics and collaborative learning activities where ‘I’ should be replaced by ‘we’. They should display sensitivity to the views and opinions of their teammates and, desired learning outcomes by working in unison with their classmates. They should also be trained to cope up with stress while their analytic skills can be developed by involving them in problem solving. On the other hand, the teacher should be able to change the teaching style and strategies as suited to the learners with distinct styles of learning. Learners should be taught to participate in team work and class discussions. One recent best example of such collaborative learning was experienced by me in PIDP course where a lot of emphasis is placed on teamwork and activities which allow the adult learners to collaborate and share their ideas and thoughts, initially with their teammates and then with the whole class.
As an adult educator, I feel that since the adult learners are facing the constraints of time and other pressures of life while pursuing their academic goals, flexible teaching learning programs should be framed so that the needs of every learner are catered to. We educators should also constantly upgrade our skills by taking part in continuous professional development programs. The adult learners should be encouraged more for experiential learning whereby they discover the solution to the academic problems themselves. More group activities should be planned for them so that they may get the opportunity to work in collaboration with their peer group. Although during my teaching career as a teacher educator, I had been devising group activities where the teacher trainee students were encouraged for problem solving in which they were given situations to learn from their experience and work of their peers, yet this quote reestablishes the significance of including training in team work and problem solving which should be an integral part of any adult education program.
This quote has motivated me to adopt flexibility in my instructional programs. After learning various modes of designing and delivering instruction through PIDP program, I shall prepare my instructional programs on the similar lines. Although being a keen lover of continuous professional development , I have been attending them for my professional growth for long, yet I shall now encourage my students as well to attend such programs so that after passing out through the instructional program, they may keep themselves updated in their field of study and be ready to keep pace with the developments in the field of education. I shall also devise more and more team work and problem solving activities to indulge my adult learners in experiential and collaborative learning.
PIDP 3100 Journal Entry # Category 2
adults are problem-centred, not subject centred, and desire immediate, not postponed application of the knowledge learned. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 53)
This quote enlightens me to the fact that adults learn for practical purposes. Most of the time, they feel motivated to learn in order to find solution to an immediate problem they have encountered rather than pursuing that activity purely out of interest to learn. I feel, it is perhaps due to the fact that unlike young learners, they are preoccupied with too many activities of primary concern in life like their family, friends and profession which leaves them very less time only to focus on the things which are of their immediate concern. Since the activities of their interest demand immediate attention, they want immediate results for them as well.
The quote brings to light the fact that adults are active knowledge seekers. They need to be given a relevance for the instructional activities they have to follow so that they may feel a strong inclination to learn that concept. Thus the content of the instructional program needs to be carefully related to the application needs of these learners. Teacher should conduct needs assessment strategy to formulate the instructional material. Since they are already self motivated, they need only direction to be involved in self-directed learning whereby they may use their critical thinking and problem solving skills. With this they will discover solutions to their learning problems.
As an adult educator, this revelation means that my learners are already well developed intellectuals bringing with them their own wealth of experience who are adept in solving their problems on their own. Thus I should participate with them in this learning process. In addition to unfolding before them new learning experiences, I should try to learn from their experiences as well. It also makes me realize that since they are problem centered, the learning activities for them should be related to the solving of a problem rather than learning of a concept. Because adults have been dealing with problems of life and have been finding solutions on their own. So the curriculum should be designed in a manner that encourages them to indulge in problem solving activities.
Though I have been taking into consideration the needs of the adult learners from varied backgrounds throughout my teaching career, yet this reflection adds further insights into my perceived role in this teaching-learning situation. I will lay more emphasis on collaborative learning since my learners are an active participant in this situation.