AN EVALUATION OF KEY APPROACHES WHICH COULD BE USED TO EXTEND THE CURRENT READING AND WRITING SKILLS OF LEARNERS
By Kay Clough
There are many different approaches towards teaching adults (andragogy) and these are quite often different to those generally used for children (pedagogy).
Andragogy tends to focus more on the learner and learning, rather than the teacher and teaching, and the process involves helping students to use learning resources, to self-direct and take responsibility for their own learning, make decisions about the learning process and how they learn best, and to make learning relevant to their own needs and interests.
According to Knowles, M. (quoted in tip.psychology.org/knowles.html), “Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: (1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something (2) Adults need to learn experientially, (3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and (4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.”
Adult learners have a vast range of life experiences and possibly also detrimental experiences as a learner. Very often the skills-based theories taught in schools to large classes were unsuitable for some students and caused those less able to fall behind, without adequate support. Very often these students would give up and were made to feel incompetent and uncomfortable about asking for help.
Carl Rogers was a theorist who believed that humans possess the need for self-actualisation, “the progression towards the pinnacle of self-development and being driven by a sense of achievement that having learned something affords” (Sturt, G. 2008, quoted in www.garysturt.free-online.co.uk). He created the ‘Phenomenological Theory’ which was concerned with human worth and value using a humanistic approach (consideration given to circumstances, background, social aspects, etc). This approach allows the learner to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and to have a belief in their ability to improve. The rewards are ‘intrinsic’, i.e. from within oneself and instil motivation. The learner takes responsibility for their education and ‘owning’ their learning thereby promoting self-esteem at successful achievement of personal goals.
This method of teaching allows open classrooms, varying learning styles to suit individuals, working in groups around tables, peer-teaching and assessment as well as self-assessment.
PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS WHICH MAY INFLUENCE LITERACY LEARNERS’ LITERACY AND LANGUAGE USE
Social disadvantage is commonly a ‘circle of events’ whereby a history of poor basic skills is often a result of, as well as a cause of, poor language and literacy skills. According to John Bynner in a recent article entitled “Unequal Life Chances”,
“Adults at Entry 2 and below, particularly in literacy, had substantially more disadvantaged lives. They were less likely to be in employment and, if they had work, were unlikely to have had any training or promotion. Early parenthood was often followed by partnership breakdown. Poor economic circumstances, and parents who themselves had poor basic skills and little understanding of how to help their children succeed educationally, appeared to lie behind the poor acquisition of visual motor skills, slow reading development, and the subsequent poor educational progression of cohort members.”
In order to provide successful learning opportunities, we need to create a supportive atmosphere. Respect and trust are paramount to successful learning and social aspects are fundamental to the provision of learning opportunities. According to Ivanic, R, et.al, 2006, NRDC, in a recent study,
“students responded positively to opportunities to engage with one another socially. Being treated with respect and equality as adults was, for many, in stark contrast to their perception of how they had been treated at school.”...
Bibliography: Skills for Life 2005, Supporting Dyslexic Learners
The Basic Skills Agency, 2002, Access for All, Read Write Plus, DfES
Bynner, J. (2007) Reflect, Issue 9 “A trajectory of disadvantage”
Ivanic, R, et.al, 2006, NRDC Linking learning and everyday life: a social perspective on adult language, literacy and numeracy classes
Ufi Limited, 2003, Adult Dyslexia, A guide for learndirect tutors and support staff
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