Looking back on the eve of 40 years as an adult educator
Looking back at my nearly four decades of educational experiences, I realize that we can learn much about others’ stories, cultures, struggles, and hopes. But, we cannot take their stories and try to live them. We can only hear, believe and embrace others within the story that we live. Their stories can make our stories richer.
It is important for all of us to continuously evolve in our thoughts and actions. This requires open, reflective, shared, challenging and collective communication with others involved in learning in the broadest sense — educators, print journalists, musicians, story-tellers, and more. It is the pairing of critical engagement with people passionate about their views, open to others and safe in their expression with reflective time that allows us to integrate those dialogues into our own. This requires courage, commitment, passion, and respect for interpersonal cultural differences; acknowledging and encouraging individual needs for diversity, self-expression, dignity, and integrity. It also requires us to know that a community of solidarity cannot be demanded, imposed, or constructed; it can only be achieved.
Through my life experience I have developed an approach to adult education that includes:
- Engagement in Communication –– fostering connected, respectful dialogue through use of authentic voice, active listening and respectful silence
- Continual Self-education through interpersonal dialogue, sharing experiences, reading and critiquing theory, and self-reflection
- Examination the Underpinning of Societies and seriously taking up the question of how I conduct my vocation by examining the -isms (e.g. feminism, sexism, ageism, multiculturalism) and being open to re-visioning
- Taking Risks — continue to challenge myself and others, border-crossing, catalyze facilitate transformative learning, political action
- Envisioning the Future — visioning and re-visioning of hope and possibility, ethical consideration of technologies effects on individual lives, envision the place of self in a global future
- Practicing Critical Enablement — moving away from considering only negative constructs of learning to allow true critical reflection
In concrete terms, my philosophy has lead me to incorporate into my practice the fostering of an environment where educators are encouraged to talk about problematic situations that they have encountered. I strive to develop a shared approach to solve problematic situations while allowing space and time for self-reflection. As well, I form self-directed management teams and encourage adult educators to continue to grow in their understanding and commitment to education.
Kevin Henderson is manager of content creation at Velsoft Training Materials.