Discuss the relevance of psychology to your work as a literacy practioner. Support your discussion with the concepts, theories, models or frameworks from the Psychology of Adult Learning that you have found useful in guiding your thinking.
There are many theories of psychology that have guided thinking in literacy practice. Different models focus on different factors that influence how people develop, behave and learn. Adult learners vary greatly in their learning needs, aspirations and ability. Concepts of particular interest are those provided by Erikson and Rogers. The focus of this essay will be on how Erikson’s theory of human development and Rogers person-centred approach can assist in literacy practice. Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development believes that personality develops in a series of stages and describes the impact of social experience across the whole life span. Each stage is interdependent and the effect is accumulative throughout a person’s life. It’s not that transition from one stage to the next can’t occur. It just might be more difficult and take longer. This model provides a basis for comprehending and facilitating personal development, which can be applied to both tutor and student. There are 8 stages to development according to Erikson. These are; infant, toddler, pre-schooler, school-age child, adolescence, young adult, middle adult, old adult. A positive resolution of one stage increases the successful transition to the next stage. By using Erikson’s model, a tutor can identify, if someone is stuck at a particular stage and adapt the work to suit. Each stage has a psychosocial crisis, virtue and maladaptation. By being aware of these issues, the tutor has a better idea of an area that a student needs to work on. For example, if someone is 40 years old and stuck in ‘the school-age child’ stage, the conflict of industry versus inferiority may present itself. By moving towards competency and reducing inertia the tutor can help shift the student. Creative writing is a useful tool, as there is safety in fiction. A group of students could be asked to write a short paragraph about themselves and to insert one lie. It is quite difficult to correctly guess the lie. The students can have enjoyment with this and feel more comfortable expressing themselves as no-one can really know for sure if it is true or false. By expressing themselves in a safe environment they may learn about themselves and gradually move onto the next stage of development. An important question for a literacy practitioner to ask is ‘what life experiences are most relevant to learning and how can the learners’ relevant experiences be capitalised upon? Referring to Erikson’s chart can give the tutor an indication of where the student may be and the type of life events they may have experienced. Using a ‘my history’ exercise can give the tutor an idea where they actually are in social relationships. It would entail filling in such details as name, birthday, number of children, spouse, brothers and sisters, their names, where I have worked and what I am good at. A ‘my history’ for a teenager may be different, as ‘number of children’ and ‘spouse’ would be less likely to have occurred at this stage. In a group situation ‘my history’ could be used as an icebreaker, where the student ‘interviews’ a fellow student and then introduces them to the class. In a 1-1 situation if a parent showed an interest in cooking, lessons could be geared around researching recipes and making up recipe cards. This is something that can be done at a practical level at home by providing healthy meals for the family. Applying lessons that are relevant to their life stages, have more meaning to the students, so they would be more engaged and motivated to learn. It may prove useful for a tutor to look at his or her own developmental stage. It is very easy for a tutor to lay fault with the student and avoid looking at how they themselves could be affecting...
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