“[L]earning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection.”
We reflect constantly on what takes place around us. Reflecting in order to learn from our experiences must be done at a deeper level. According to Stephen Brookfield, who’s work has contributed to this chapter, there are three phases required to get this deeper form of reflection: 1) identify assumptions, 2) assess the accuracy of those assumptions, and 3) repair the assumptions.
This quote suggests that learners, especially ones tending towards self-motivated learning, need tools for more critical self-assessment.
This quote demonstrates the rational and the need for self-evaluation as a tool in learning. A student who regularly has to grade themselves based on probing self evaluation will not only learn from the course work, but will learn through the assessment and carry the skills needed to critically reflect on future learning.
I intend to make use of this in coaching apprentices. As there are no marks that a journeyman can issue to their apprentice, reflecting on the end product and the path that lead to it is a useful thing. Getting the apprentice to probe to these deeper question will take some additional time and effort, but will aid them in the future, especially as we expect continuous growth from them.
“The flipped classroom is…essentially reversing the traditional order…this approach fits adult education’s values of active learner engagement and self-direction.”
My first response to this was “what is a flipped classroom?” Going to the text, a flipped classroom is where the theory is delivered online and practical exercises are completed in a face-to-face setting with the instructor. While the terminology was new to me the practice was not. A one week course I attended last spring on Heritage Conservation made use of this: prior to the start of class there were assigned reading and a presentation based on a reflection exercise which tied the reading and the student’s experience.
Considering the classroom experience from the Heritage Conservation course, I found myself reflecting on the result of the pre-reading and he exercise. The Class was diverse: there were fine arts students in graduate programs, architects and planners with varying degrees of involvement in heritage, a couple of museum curators based out of heritage designated buildings and two of us in carpentry. The focus of the presentations were equally diverse. Some drilled down on construction specifications, practices and design while others dealt with high-level conservation theory for works of art.
The resulting presentations were entirely self-directed and as such they became a very interesting learning experiences in themselves. A great range of views and practices were expressed, with emphasis on stakeholder participation. It further helped express one of the course’s main themes: holistic approaches to the practice of heritage conservation.
British Columbia’s vocational training model does not readily lend itself to this type of pre-class preparation. To utilize, it would have to start once the program started. It could very well be an excellent tool. I would picture a scenario where I could send the learners home with media packages demonstrating a particular carpentry module (it could be something as simple as a YouTube video hanging a door) the day before the class, then starting the next day with an interactive group review or evaluation on the content to ensure the critical point were absorbed. This would leave the balance of the day for practice of the skills and could also permit increased time for troubleshooting common issues.
“[A]n educated person is one who has learned how to learn…how to adapt and change.”
The quote reflects the frequent reasoning used or Arts based education. The subject matter becomes less important when you look at learning from this direction. In my experience as a Carpenter, it is relatively easy to learn a skill by steps, and as long as ideal conditions continue to exist, a tradespersons can perform that skill without impediment.
I think we need to be careful not to put the cart in front of the horse. As educators we need to establish a technical base-line. If that same person does not learn the theories and conditions behind said skill, then their value becomes limited. Too often in the construction industry we see people with less than necessary understand in the basics of construction attempt to adept the understanding to a problem. This can result in the solution causing more problems than the initial issue.
As when I contemplated the quote for my first journal entry, I see how humanist philosophy has impacted learning theory today. The basis of Humanist learning theory is that learners are empowered to make their lives better through self-improvement. It is something that endorse to an extent. Instructor must keep in mind, however that diversity exists. If instructor focus only on teaching in a humanistic style, some students will be left behind.
It is important for the instructor to expose the learner to that theory and test through problem-solving exercises to practice adapting the skills to different situations, which is often emphasized in Arts education. For this reason those with Arts based education (such as myself) can often have a tougher go at the start of our careers as we learn work-specific skills which were not part of our education, but as they come with well-developed learning skills they can adapt and eventually excel.
“There are few educators who would disagree with the principle that lifelong learning is a good thing but the important questions are about the types of learning that the concept promotes, the life that it encourages us to lead, who benefits from this and the nature of the society that it upholds.”
Lifelong learning is a pervasive concept. It is reinforced in workplaces and by the educational community. The question must be asked, though, where should this addition learning take society? More must come from an individual’s learning than self-serving short-term requirements. Knowledge shared has much greater value that knowledge hoarded.
Lifelong learning has been something I have been very conscious of throughout my career. I have considered sources of learning, and the path that my ongoing exploration will take me. But where the departure is where the benefit to society and the nature on the whole? I do not have an ultimate answer to this yet; further reflection on how I use my education must be completed. A good first step is to readily share my knowledge when the opportunity presents itself.
Part of my role in encouraging lifelong learning will need to include leaving my students with some direction that they can go for the next step in their learning. As a facilitator of adult learning, I will need to keep abreast of learning opportunities in my field (Construction). This can include tradition paths like completing related degrees such as tradespeople completing BCIT’s management training like the Bachelor of Technology in Construction Management, or attending continuing education programs that allow for mid-career moves which utilize past experience like VCC’s Provincial Instructor Diploma Program. Academic education is not the only source of lifelong learning. Short-term workshops can gain new skills and certifications. Making use of other experienced co-workers or employer’s practicing in similar fields can be a source of development as well.