Adult education is coming under the spotlight across many sectors, especially education, where teachers need to constantly adapt and modify their practice so as to educate students in an increasingly complex, rapidly-evolving world. Schools realise the development needs of their teachers are increasing rapidly too and that carefully considered approaches are needed. Mismanagement of this aspect of a school can cause stagnation of teachers in their practice and result in missed opportunities for students.
As an example, many educators note that our school system lags behind technology by up to a decade in many cases. To close this gap, schools need to establish and utilise professional development programs to educate teachers on the use of technology. This must involve current theories of ‘adult education’ and carefully managed instructional systems design so that it is implemented successfully and leads to improved teacher and learner outcomes.
Zepcke et. al. points out that “adults are always involved in learning... and [the learning] can occur informally as well as formally”. With teachers, this may happen as part of everyday practice or during planned programmes initiated by school management. There are also many opportunities available for teachers to engage in online learning communities which can broaden the teacher’s scope and expose them to a wide variety of learning moments. Learning communities of teachers are fertile environments for sharing best-practice and discussing education critically.
Adult education allows for the utilisation of all contributions in a community and can affect change on a grand scale. It should be an “emancipatory venture” (Zepcke et. al., 2008). Surely, if we are to educate our children to think critically about the world, we must first help our teachers do the same.
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!”
Zepke, N., Leach, L., Gilling, M., & Slater, G. (2008). Adult education: Purposes, issues and debates. In A. St.George, S. Brown & J. O'Neill (Eds.), Facing the Big Questions in Teaching: Purpose, Power and Learning (pp. 32-41). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia