This course has allowed me to explore so many learning theories over the past few months. As an educator and learner, I am believer that we never stop learning, that learning is part of every minute.
While much of that learning is done without much reflection or even thought that we are actively taking in and assimilating information into our day-to-day practices. I am also a life-long learner and value those that are able to take time to explore the new and unexpected.
Professionally I have worked in the land grant higher educational system my entire career and truly believe in the mission of that work. The Oregon State University Extension Service engages the people of Oregon with research-based knowledge and education that strengthen communities and economies, sustain natural resources, and promote healthy families and individuals (OSU Extension Service, 2022).
It can be easy to get bogged down sometimes times in the minutia of the day to day and reflection on our mission and values brings me back to that place where I remember that in the simplest form, I just want to make a positive difference in community.
There have been theorists and theories that really spoke to me throughout the course. I could recognize in my current community education programs some of these concepts and that has given me more confidence in my teaching styles. As a community educator there is no one size fits all approach and I find myself adapting to the individual learner based upon their communicated needs. Not all of this communication happens verbally.
One of the concepts that really has impacted me is the notion of grace. Graves explained it as “to be found by grace – we must live not only in the immediate moment but let go of ego involvement in that moment, for grace comes in by the back door…. While the attention is elsewhere, grace is at work in the unconscious” (Graves, 1997).
Grace provides the perspective to see ourselves in a larger context, not just as students and teachers but as individuals connected with each other and with the world beyond ourselves (Graves, 1997).
Cutting through the boundaries of culture, language, race, social class, economic level, age, handicaps, intelligence level, geography, and birth. (Graves, 1997). While it seems so simple, I really valued the reminder that we are all flawed humans living in a world that is full of complexities.
This slide is from “Transformative Learning” a presentation by Chrissy Lucas and Lorena Rodriguez for AHE 553. This model is the steps of Transformative Learning as outlined my Jack Mezirow.
Along those same lines of interconnectedness the work of Knowles, Grow, Mezirow, Daloz, Boyd and Freire in the realm of the adult learner having a personal dilemma or need to learn something that is integrated into the very being of the learner. My passion is responding to community needs and much of this is done one-on-one with adult learners who may have just received a domestic well test and have no idea what the results mean.
My goal is to provide research based non-biased information on that topic. The information needs to be presented in plain language and be available in multiple formats. I think of myself as a navigator for the learner where I can help foster recognition of problem, guide towards resources and exploration applicable to their personal situation and validate their assessment of the situation. Sometimes this means I may be asking questions, using teach back moments to check for understanding and one of my favorites is suggesting the learner create a self-directed action plan for future follow-up.
I am part of a community of practice of other community educators, most that do not have formal adult education training. I have already shared some of the theories, models, and graphics in our regular meetings. They have created interest in and discussion around how we as a team and individually can improve the experience we are providing to the communities we serve.
Looking into the future I am excited about the continued work that we will doing as a group. Personally, I am currently and want to continuously challenge my concept of learning and educating. To be open, honest, and continue to grow in acceptance, to support those that need an ally, and actively pursue anti-racism. The recognition that I’ll never be a perfect person, teacher, mentor but valuing and celebrating how the failures and mistakes made are just as important or more so than the successes.
About Us. (2022, January 3). OSU Extension Service. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/about
Graves, R.L. (1997). Grace, in pedagogy. In R. P. Foehr & S.A. Schillers (Eds.), The spiritual side of writing (pp. 15-24). Portsmouth, NH: Boyton:Cook.
Merriam, S. B. & Baumgartner, L. M. (2020). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (4th ed.) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 166-195
Merriam, S. B. & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 82-126
Written by: Chrissy Lucas-Woodruff for AHE 553: Adult Learning & Development on December 7, 2022