Creating lifelong learners
For us, Adult Learners Week is about creating a growth mindset for learning.
Something that we’re huge advocates of is ‘lifelong learning’. We believe that learning is an ongoing process—it’s not as simple as taking one course, and knowing all there is to know about a subject area. Even once you become competent, there are always dozens of other areas to learn about, and ways of further challenging yourself.
Sometimes, self-belief and the stories we have about ourselves as learners can hold us back. Our challenge, as trainers, and your challenge, as employers, is to act as a catalyst, reengaging adults with lifelong learning.
Often what this requires is a change in mindset.
Challenging old mindsets
Some of the learning experiences and beliefs about learning we bring into adulthood come from our experiences in formal education – most likely from school, and the school system doesn’t always meet every student’s needs.
As adults, the workplace is also a site of ongoing learning, and training that happens at work can provide a second chance at learning, as well as changing up the self-perceptions that individuals might have about their potential as a lifelong adult learner.
Sometimes, negative learning experiences contribute to a closed mindset about learning. Those who have told themselves they aren’t smart might disengage, trying to avoid potential embarrassment. All too often, the shy employee who is reluctant to share his opinions for fear of being ‘shown up’, really knows more about the topic than anyone else in the room.
Helping adult learners soar: tips for training with adult learners
Each employee has unique experiences and perspectives to offer at work – building a learning culture not only grows confidence in your people to bring their ideas forward, but helps your organisation to develop robust critical thinking and foster innovation.
Tapping into the experience and knowledge in the room when you are facilitating training is key – building on and extending what your teams already know, and knowing what they need to learn ahead of the session.
Being explicit about the personal and organisational relevance of any training will help your trainees to ‘buy into the why’ – why the training matters to them and to the wider organisation.
Inviting trainees to set their own goals will also help them to get on board with a topic for training, and celebrate success when they achieve them. This will harness motivation and engagement.
Plan opportunities for interaction and discussion to deepen new learning. Research shows that we are more likely to retain information when we discuss it and experience it in some way – sustainable training does both of these things.
Encouraging adult learners as an employer
Once your employees are on the path towards being lifelong learners, you can play a role in encouraging their development.
Something as simple as arranging for a guest speaker to come in once a quarter and run a workshop on tenancy or finance will go a long way to establishing the habit of continual learning in your teams. When you lead from the front as an employer and provide these opportunities, it helps affirm and unlock confidence your staff.