by Joycelyn Seybold, Entrust Women-to-Women Ministry Training (WWMT) U.S. Director, Texas
What has been one of the best learning experiences for you as an adult? Take a moment to reflect. What were some of the things that made it such a positive and powerful learning experience?
As an adult learner, what is essential for you to know? This is just one of the questions you as a small group leader need to consider, and one which we, as Entrust facilitator teams, seek to answer so we can provide an effective learning environment for each group. We take into consideration the groups’ life experience, cultural perspectives, cultural traditions, age, gender, educational experience and previous exposure to content.
Adult learners value their resources, including time. Therefore, they selectively choose how to invest their time based on how valuable they deem the return. What proves to be valuable? That which is essential, relevant, useful and practical for them to know or to do. So, we ask ourselves, “What do we need to learn from them to partner with them in this process?”
Think about yourself. How do you learn best? What type of thinker are you? What combination of instructional styles help you learn? Some of us learn best through hearing, others through viewing visual aids and others through touching, movement or doing. Using a combination of styles and approaches benefits everyone in the group, such as incorporating verbal content (good questions to stimulate thought and discussion), visual aids (photos, video clips, PowerPoint, flip charts, written directions) and action (writing, drawing, experiential practice).
What approaches or exercises facilitate learning for the internal and external processor, the faster and slower processor, the big picture thinker and the detailed, systematic thinker? What does each type of thinker bring to the table?
Adults appreciate information exchanges. As peer learners, how can we facilitate discovery learning? As we, the facilitators, consider these questions, we can create a richer, dynamic learning experience for each person individually as well as for the group.
Christ knew everything about those around him. He knew the culture well enough to be able to ask many counter-cultural, thought-provoking questions. He gave his disciples practical learning experiences. Following Christ’s model, the more learner-centered we can be, the more powerful and transformational will be the experience for each adult in the group.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2017 Engage.