Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development
at Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI)

It is a common thought to see all learning as equal. We can see the differences in how teachers, instructors, and professors approach learning based on the age of the learners. Still, it is not always clear that two different systems of instruction exist, with certain methodologies based on the age of the learner. There is pedagogy,
which is instruction designed for children. While scholars can argue about who is centered in this type of instruction (teacher versus student), what is key to know is that pedagogy is rooted in the awareness that children are often learners who depend on others (teachers) for instruction or direction.

Methods of Engagement

Also, because children do not choose to attend school, society requires it, and the motivation to attend comes from the outside. Therefore, teachers have to engage students in a way that encourages learning because the children “did not sign up for this.” Andragogy, on the other hand, relies on student motivation to learn and is rooted in their own desire and aspirations as they are the ones registering themselves to take courses and classes. Most instructional methods include learning intake strategies, which require independence and high levels of personal discipline.

Discipline, which society has assumed, is just built into adulthood. Why the Masochism? As an adult, I would be so bored taking classes and attending workshops. I would ponder, why do we choose to bore ourselves when we are completely in control of how instruction can happen? There are several ways to teach, instruct, or drive
learning, but we frequently choose the least entertaining way possible. The rationale for the limitation is that “you chose to be here,” and therefore, you will endure. But what if we applied pedagogy to all learning? Where did we bridge the gap?

Working In Non-profit Spaces

Working in nonprofit education has made me aware of all the ways that students are underserved throughout their academic lives. Varied learning styles, skill-gap needs, limited access to resources, and the need for more time or instructional differentiation all present as reasons why adults are not always capable of being the independent and motivated learners that andragogy needs them to be. Wanting to learn does not automatically make adults able to overcome the obstacles to learning they developed throughout their lives and never overcame.

Bringing out the child in everyone I do not know who wrote the social rule that adulthood had to be so serious. Almost every hallmark act of adulthood is rooted in a lack of joy and laughter, limited novel experiences, and lots of quietness. This is especially true for adult education spaces. As a designer of learning experiences and a teacher, I prioritize all of the senses in the setup of my lessons. My professional self is aware of the cognitive impact of using the five senses to learn skills and acquire knowledge and how this approach enhances the brain’s ability to retrieve and use that information later.

Stimulants and Memory

The kid in me knows from my own practice the way that certain stimulants make me automatically recall specific memories and details. The smell of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the cereal I ate for breakfast while in the eighth grade, makes me automatically recall details from the book “The Pearl,” by John Steinbeck. I think of Kino’s passionate attempt to save his whole world right after he seemingly got a windfall from finding a valuable pearl.

Actualizations like these have constantly motivated me to push pedagogical style lessons, even for adult learners. In a recent professional development workshop where I taught the fundamentals of Project-based Learning (PBL), I started by guiding a group of teachers through the experience of a PBL unit through the eyes of the student. The sheer joy, intrinsic motivation, and personal investment that the teachers put into their projects affirmed the impact of pedagogy on adults. While andragogy is the prescribed methodology for adults, fewer people are motivated to learn than teachers having to “go to work” on the first day of a mid-term break. I taught an Entrepreneurship class at the Harbour Island Trade School, the northern satellite school of the Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI), where I serve as the Dean of the School.

The PBL Approach

I applied a (PBL) approach to the instruction, putting the adult current and aspiring business owners in the seat of emerging entrepreneurs who solve local problems using data, explore the ideation phase using chart paper and crayons, and use their imagination and creativity to create businesses and investment pitches. This made light and created ease around the process that they, when given the chance to replicate the experience for their own personal business development process and presentation, were able to do so with the comfort and confidence of experienced business owners accustomed to presenting themselves before investors.

What if every course or class we took as adults harnessed the same magic that we use to wow and bring wonder to the learning experiences of children? Could it make lifelong learners of us all? Perhaps if the presentation of learning for adults did not depend so much on the social pressure to know more, gain academic influence, or promote career climbing, we would be more invested in growing our knowledge of the world from a place of joy. It certainly would not hurt and maybe we would all be inclined to become lifelong learners.

About One Eleuthera Foundation

Founded in 2012, One Eleuthera Foundation is a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to transforming our local island communities into thriving, self-sufficient ecosystems. We do this by focusing on five key areas: economic ownership, meaningful educational advancement, pathways to wellness, and environmentally sustainable communities centered around our island’s unique cultural identity. We run a number of social enterprises, including CTI, our vocational school; the Retreat Hotel, a training hotel for hospitality students; and our farm and Cooling House, which trains future farmers in the best sustainability and food production practices. Through OEF’s consistent dedicated efforts, the tenacity and resourcefulness of our legacy community, and the support of donors and partners, we are creating change in Eleuthera.