Embrace Continuous Improvement: A Reminder for the Good

20130224-203023Who here likes models?  Nope, not talking about the leggy, airbrush fashion varieties.  Nor am I referring to the plastic cars, planes, and boats we toiled over as kids (I’ve got a brother who expertly still does this, so it’s clearly not just a hobby for children).  Who here likes frameworks for better understanding the world around us, those kinds of models?


Oh, come on, I know there are plenty of you out there who live for these graphical representations of work, leadership, learning…You can admit it.  Channel your inner geek!

I like them, too, although I’m typically a bit skeptical (shocking, I know) about their use as end-all, be-alls of what we do.  Too often they are paraded about as “rules” to be followed, rather than frameworks to help align our thoughts (where appropriate) or to influence our perspectives.  But where they succeed only in the latter, they can be wonderful tools!

0-hypocrisyThis fall, I’ll be once again teaching a masters-level course in adult learning, and I’ve spent time this summer reviewing my approach to this class, tweaking bits and pieces, and in some instances, revamping complete portions of the curriculum.  In doing so, I suddenly came to a realization this weekend.  In fact, I’ve been doing just what I despise with a learning model in this course…I’ve set upon a pedestal Knowles’s model of andragogy and I’ve resisted much else.

Dang it!!…Hypocrisy rears its ugly head!

You see, I believe wholeheartedly in the theory of learner-centered education.  Individuals must be self-motivated and self-driven to learn, and it is not the role of the instructor to preach “on high” about the “truth” of a particular topic.  Rather than lecture and “profess” one’s knowledge, the role of the professor is more as a facilitator of learning, particularly when engaging adult learners.  It’s quite the opposite of the “teacher-centered” model that most of us grew up in and continued even through college, in many cases.  In fact, the American educational philosophy has remained overwhelmingly pedagogical for centuries.  And in certain environments (namely, for building foundational skills to children), pedagogy can be very appropriate.

By contrast, andragogy is far better for engaging adults in the learning process.  But adoption of andragogical teaching in schools, higher education, and in organizational settings has been slow.  That’s precisely why I focus so heavily on it in my Adult Learning class.

motivational frameworkimageThat said, I realized last week how one-sided my perspective has become.  Specifically, how in emphasizing an andragogical method of learning, I have neglected to promote other complementary frameworks that could actually enhance Knowles’s approach.  A great example of that would be Ginsberg and Wlodkowski’s Motivational Framework for Culturally Relevant Teaching.  Used in conjunction with a traditional theory of andragogy, the framework adds richness by further focusing on building Inclusion, Attitude, Competence, and Meaning to the learning environment.

Now, one could devote many blog posts or an entire book to either of these models alone (in fact, the creators of each DID).  And I won’t bore you with the details of either here.

The point here is that as we move through our work, we each need to explore how our own habits and perspectives sometimes lock us into a particular way of doing things.  While that may be good, if we want even better results, we need to push ourselves to look for ways we can improve upon our “model.”  After all, good should never simply be….good enough!

One thought on “Embrace Continuous Improvement: A Reminder for the Good

  1. Good teachers had good role models. Think back again to your three best teachers. How has your own teaching been shaped by their practices, consciously or unconsciously? Think also of the worst teacher you ever had. Are there things you absolutely will not do because you remember how devastating they were to you or your classmates? We learn to teach gradually, and absorb ideas and practices from a variety of sources. How many movies have you seen that include a teacher as a character, and how might those films have contributed to your practice? We are not always aware of the influences on our teaching, good and bad; reflecting on the different models of teaching we’ve acquired, and looking at how we acquired them, makes us better able to adapt and change to suit new challenges.

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