How pedagogical approaches for adults helped to motivate young learners!

We often learn and collect important amount of knowledge, we often tend to seek for more in the case we would need to use this knowledge, we tend to complicate sometimes our problem solving scenarios because we thin like we are accustomed to think and rarely we put ourselves in the shoes of learners.

This past summer, I had an amazing opportunity to live with three young learners (3 of my grand-children) who spent some time with me (almost 5 weeks) on a daily basis.

Image Credits: SLATE

The temptation was great to limit this time to using their tablets, watch TV or play movie after movie to “spend” that amount of time just baby-sitting them! I was not the ideal babysitter knowing myself.

To spice things a bit more each of my little treasures have a specific mindset of interests and the level of motivation could go very high for one where the other two would feel bored to the extreme.

Thinking about this new “excursion” I said to myself, being an education specialist, developing for others well appreciated training programs, why would I be so worried taking care of my grand-children.

I tried to apply all what I have learned and taught, adapting these pedagogical approaches to their level of interest and above all to seek how each would want to engage into such activities.

The first day I felt a bit stressed as in a very important presentation facing an unknown audience. So we had a meeting, a real meeting where I presented the plan and asked what would they think of it, I let them express their comments, then once we had an agreement I presented and handed the material for the whole 5 weeks. Noting I had their attention from the look at their faces, I knew we had a real deal. The material was the one I used with my team at work, paper, markers, post-it pads, pencils, scissors, glue sticks and coloured blocks of building boards… Yes, simple and basic material, of course we had our Internet access, their tablets, movies and some games, but we put these on the side for the breaks and of course some snacks…

We prepared a presentation about a camping excursion they had with their mom, they had to represent what they liked the most, so we worked on a story-board, sketching the various elements, the scenes and sequence, what to draw and what to write. Don’t be surprised young ones can understand very easily these concepts we use to build online learning, it is just a matter of giving them a starting idea the rest, they can do and complete their projects by themselves. It was all but school activities.

They motivated me to unveil various aspects of my professional activities, telling them what I did to create online courses for adults. At first they smiled not believing this could be true,, then I showed them a demo-module about the discovery of knowledge management, it triggered another set of activities: the solar system!

With basic material we had to find a way to represent the solar system… So in front of such amusing challenges we used the internet resources, they found pictures of the solar systems they told me that each planet had a specific colour even the smallest one that was not anymore considered as a planet! I was amazed, learning and showing them how honestly I was learning from them…

It went on and on, every day when they mom dropped them at my place before she went to work. The next minute after sitting and waiting they would ask, so Granddad what are we doing today?

The day we discussed and spent some time on story telling they felt surprised that even adults liked storytelling. The elder said “Wow! I thought it was just for young kids!”

During these activities I also made a very significant discovery, how education would be nicer if tailored to the needs of each person. And that, should we believe it or not, is something possible!

I used the mind mapping approach as a game, explaining what we would do, and let them figure how they would apply the concept (be assured I never used any of these technical complex expressions, just speaking simple as they always did with adults as well.

During this activity I made a stunning discovery, each of the three had a different mind map schemes, for a given situation they each had a separate solution. This observation gave me a tangible proof that there aren’t brilliant minds and less gifted ones, each of us is unique and learns in a specific mode. Of course the material is the same, though the approach is adapted the way the person learns the best.

This event brought back some of the frustrations we as students in various classes and various grades we had because we were tagged as non-math mind, or unable to understand conceptual thinking or philosophic thinking and so on and on. How many lives were really influenced by the narrow vision of the educational practices of that time… I always remember one of the school principals in late 70’s used to call us by our last names and addressing to the classes as if we were confined in military barracks.

I am more than ever convinced that education has changed, people have changed, learners want to collect knowledge, the missing part is the educational system that has to upgrade to a better and more humanized approach!

As long as we keep in mind that education is the act of giving knowledge to people, and let them use such knowledge the way they better understand and better profit of it, not the other way!

Michel – October 30, 2014

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