ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How is mentoring adults different from teaching children?
I think the main difference is the wealth of experience that adults bring when they come into a class. This can either be beneficial or it can be a challenge. It can be a challenge because "as an adult, you tend to have more rigid patterns when it comes to learning that you’ve found work for you and, therefore, an adult can be less willing to explore new ways of doing things which can hinder progress." On the other hand, "a child is usually keen to explore anything and they remain more open minded than adults who are sometimes more reluctant to go beyond their comfort zone" (Durham, 2012). It can be a benefit because adults have a context for what they are learning and can relate to what they learn more easily than children. "Common sense tells us that life experience greatly influences our motivation, our ability to learn, and the attention we choose to give learning" (Papa, 2011). As adult's we choose classes that get us the knowledge we either need or want. For adult learning there are some ideas from Papa (2011) that he quoted from Knowles (1990) as principles to guide learning for adults: • Adults need to participate: plan and evaluate their instruction. • Experiential learning activities should be provided. • Topics must be relevant to their jobs or personal life. • Learning for adults should be problem centered versus content oriented. (Papa, 2011) These to me make sense because we can see the bigger picture and we can imagine the future. As a kid I did not think about what would be necessary in the future but what I needed in that moment. Also Durham (2012) points out that "adults will have far more responsibilities in life than a child and, therefore, less time to attend to different things so, in order to learn effectively, a sense of purpose is crucial to the whole experience." We have to know that what we are doing will help us. I know I would not be taking master's classes if I did not feel like it would help me become a better teacher.
The last aspect that I found for adult learners was the notion of mentoring. In this relationship "the educational leader acknowledges that he or she is a learner as well" (Papa, 2011). In a mentoring relationship there is a partnership that is more equal that in the typical teacher-student relationship present in the K-12 environment. Durham (2012) agreed that "effective learning as an adult is more likely to result if there is no differentiation in status." As a student in this relationship it feels that your opinions are valued and that you can give to the relationship as well. It is not just one sided. You can have a conversation where you both give your input. As adults we want to share what we know and as kids we are trying to absorb as much as we can.