Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaching Adults

Good teaching is not only a matter of the substance of the subject taught. Equally crucial is the pedagogics -- the way the material is dispensed and delivered. In order to assure that the material dispensed is efficiently received and absorbed by the students, it is essential that the teacher recognizes their character. The best teaching situation is therefore the Socratic method, and the ideal format is one-on-one dialogue. The teacher adjusts the material according to the capacity and propensity of the student and makes sure step by step that what has been said was fully understood. The principle applies to teaching a group, large or small. The teacher must reorganize the material and rethink its delivery whether the class is a group of mechanics, ballet dancers, school teachers, or the mixed audience. The teacher's task become more complex and challenging with a heterogeneous group. Teaching a class of college students is one thing; teaching a group of adults is another. Moreover, adult learners, even those uninitiated in the subject taught, are much more experienced in all aspects of life, more broadly read in various subjects, and more eager to learn. Replicating the college class lectures may be adequate for a course taught in a LifeLong Learning Program; but a pedagogic reconstruction is essential for the teaching to be better than adequate. So I think, and that's what I do.

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