In this paper I intend to explore the role of the teacher in the lifelong learning sector by looking at various publications by learned authors in this field. I will apply the results of to my own experiences of teaching and investigate if I have been performing to best practice and what I can do to improve. There are some who believe that lifelong learning has a positive effect on health. Peter Scales (2008) mentions that there is evidence that the actual act of learning can help in warding off the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Alternatively, lifelong learning is becoming much more important as the roles and responsibilities of people tend to change much quicker with the advent of technology such as the internet and its changing nature of the workplace. Jobs for life are fast becoming a part of history and as a consequence the need to learn skills and techniques which are up to date and current is vital for the person to be able to stay in employment and the economy as a whole to be able to grow. Lifelong learning may not be related to a person’s career or work but purely out of the enjoyment to learn and train on subjects which interest them.
Language classes are a prime example of this. In order to maximise the learners enjoyment and learning then according to Maslow there are five levels the learner need to satisfy. Firstly the physiological aspect must be satisfied. That is, the environment needs to be warm and dry and conducive to being in a comfortable learning environment. There should be access to food, drink and conveniences. Once the environment has been satisfied then there’s the second level which is the learners safety and security.
They need to be feeling secure and have access to someone with any concerns they have. The learner then needs the Recognition level. This is the level where the learner feels a part of the process and should not be intimidated by either teacher or co-learners. Once the learner has been satisfied with the first three levels then there is the fourth level which according to Maslow relates to Self-Esteem. The learners needs to feel and believe that they learning something of worth. Lastly, there is the fifth and final level which is Self Actualisation.
At this level the learner will feel that the learning process is in fact worth the time and effort (and of course possibly money) and at this level the overall role and responsibility of the teacher will have been satisfied as the learner will be learning to maximum potential and enjoyment. In order that the Maslow Hierarchy is achieved for the learner then the teacher needs to apply the teacher/training cycle as described by Ann Gravells (2012) in order to cover all the points and to prepare and carry out sessions efficiently.
The teacher must initially need to look at the needs. Here it is not only the needs of the learner but may also include the need of the establishment, examination board or another external body. Learners may have special needs if they have conditions which require certain teaching techniques or equipment. Teaching styles will start coming into the thoughts of the teacher at this stage especially if the learner’s previous experience is known. A checklist of learners needs can be covered using the acronym SPICE.
Social issues could be difficulty in interacting with other people. An example may be a mature student in a group of new school leavers which could lead to the mature student being excluded by the younger group. Physical needs, such as a student diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome where they would require a colour transparent filter in order they can read any paperwork without the symptoms of the syndrome. There are also sensory disabilities such as sight or hearing and motability difficulties. Intellectual needs could affect how a learner learns.
They could be quick learners which in turn could lead to them becoming bored whilst waiting for the group to catch up. Alternatively there are learners who take longer to learn which would lead to the learner struggling to keep up with the group which could affect their esteem needs. Cultural needs could be as simple as a learner needing to go to prayer at a particular time of day or when discussing subjects normal in a particular religion or culture but against the beliefs of people in another religion.
The teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution in some states of the United States is a prime example of this. The last need is the Emotional. Here a learner could have been through a recent bereavement which would affect their concentration and interaction with other people. Of course with these needs it is imperative that the student has an opportunity to communicate these with the teacher. This can be done through a questionnaire prior to the start of the course or to hold a tutorial session where the teacher is available for one to one sessions where specific needs can be discussed privately.
This can be done simply by staying for a short while after the session. Then there is the planning stage of the cycle. Here the teacher needs to take into account the course length, session lengths, syllabus, student numbers, resources and assessments. The result of this stage of this cycle is usually a lesson or session plan which would give an outline of the timing of each session with the goals and activities to be carried out. Once the planning stage is over the cycle is then the action stage or the delivery stage.
Here is where the teaching actually takes place. The sessions are carried out as close to the session plan as is reasonably possible. The more experience a teacher gains then the teacher can adapt methods and resources as the session is carried out to maximise the learners learning and enjoyment. In order that a balance of learning styles be attained then a learning style questionnaire can be carried out in the first session. A method of doing this is using Kolb’s model which has a learning style inventory and assesses needs and preferences.
Once these are known then a better balance of activities can be carried out with maybe personal exercises for people with different styles. Other theories for learning styles are VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic) and Honey and Mumford. There is little point in carrying out sessions without finding out if the students are actually learning. This is where assessments come in. They may be formal such as assignments or projects or can be as simple as a quick quiz.
If the teacher is carrying out their role with Maslow’s hierarchy in mind then they will continuously be getting informal feedback of the sessions and materials to ensure that the learners first two levels of physiological and security needs are met. However, there should always be an opportunity for more formal feedback to be given. This can be anonymous by using feedback forms the results of which should be reviewed and added to the teachers own reflection of the sessions and course should lead to the first and second part of the cycle being reviewed which is the identifying needs and planning stages and any changes being implemented.
Having looked at the needs of the learners for effective (and enjoyable) learning and the cycle to carry out these teaching sessions by the teacher there are of course some pieces of legislation which must be considered as part of the responsibility of offering courses. These are all part of ensuring that learners can achieve and satisfy the levels within Maslow’s hierarchy. These will include the Children’s Act (2004), the Data Protection Act (2003), Equality Act (2010), Human Rights Act (1998) et al. (See Appendix 1 for a summary of these acts).
There are then other policies which may have to be adhered to or used as guidelines such as the Quality Policy of a College or that of a funding or examination body. Having explained the needs of the learners for learning and the ways in which teachers can deliver these needs using the teaching cycle how do I apply these in my teaching role. I am employed as a part time teacher at West Cheshire College presenting Alcohol Awareness and Substance Misuse Awareness to attain the Level 1 NCFE Awards in both.
These are carried out in three hour sessions each and assessed by completing the NCFE workbook. Learners can vary from young people living in homeless hostels to managers or organisations. Sessions are held either in the Ellesmere Port campus of the college or on the clients own property. I always ensure that there is a maximum group size of 25 as beyond this with such a short time it is difficult to ensure that all learners can have an opportunity to convey any issues, problems or specific needs.
I try to arrive at the allocated rooms thirty minutes before the session is due to begin. This gives me an opportunity to ensure the room is adequate and conducive to learning. I always take with me a laptop, projector and speakers so that the movie clips I use and the PowerPoint presentation can be displayed. For the alcohol session I have samples of units and calories in different drinks and a drug display for the substance misuse session. This should ensure that the Physiological and Security needs are met to the best of my ability.
Prior to sessions with an external body I ask if any of the learners have specific needs and whether these will be covered by that body which is what usually happen. A recent session was attended by a deaf person who had a British Sign Language (BSL) interpretor. The learner ensured he could see the screen and the interprator easily. It is difficult in a short session to get to know learners on a personal basis and to discover any issues they have which they may not be comfortable to disclose.
In order to overcome this I will ask the group if they are ok and if anyone has any issues. I have found it important to “walk the room” and to ensure that nobody is struggling in silence. This then should cover the Recognition and Self-Esteem levels. The final level will be covered by my feedback and certification when the workbook has been completed. These sessions are carried out according to the session plan which is based around the NCFE workbook. Content will change if information such as a news item highlights issues surrounding the subject.
Another way in which this may change is through the feedback system. This feedback is both from the learners and also from the NCFE External Verifier who will comment on areas where answers in workbooks need to be expanded or changed. There is also my own feedback and self evaluation where if I feel that learners are struggling in grasping a subject then an alternate method be it through a video clip or example to get the information across better. When issues do arise with students then it is important to realise where the boundaries are.
A teacher has the role and responsibility to facilitate learning. If a learner has difficulties outside the classroom which are affecting their learning then the teacher’s responsibility is to find a way to assist the learner to still achieve learning despite the problems. The teacher should have knowledge of where the learner can go for help with the external problem. This ensures that a person with a bit more skill and experience of sorting the type of problem (such as financial) and keeps the relationship between the teacher and the learner as it should be.
In some ways it also protects the teacher from situations which could become awkward and difficult to maintain a professional level of teaching. In conclusion, by ensuring the levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy are met for learners and using the teaching cycle by the teacher then the roles and responsibilities of the teacher in the lifelong learning sector is carried out with maximum benefits to both learner and teacher. References Scales, Peter. (2008). Teaching in the Lifelong Services. Open University Press Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review, 50, 370-96.
Gravells, Ann (2012-01-31). Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector: The New Award (Kindle Locations 7-8). Learning Matters. Kindle Edition. APPENDIX 1 The Children’s Act (2004) This act and in particular Every Child Matters covers young people to the age of 19 (24 if they have a disability) and is in place to ensure they: ? Be healthy ? Stay safe ? Enjoy and achieve ? Make a positive contribution ? Achieve economic well-being These relate to the two first stage of Maslow and how any issues which can arise are treated.
Data Protection Act (2003) This act governs the protection of a persons data and how it is managed. In relation to lifelong learning this would relate on how application forms are dealt with and how information is stored and used. Equality Act (2010) This act originated from acts such as the Sex discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976 and Disability Discrimination Act 1995. It is in place to ensure that a person is not discriminated against based on age, gender,diability, religious belief and sexual orientation among others.
Human Rights Act (1998) In basic terms this act stands to ensure that a persons rights are respected and they in turn respect other people’s. Its primary aim is that every person has a right to life. Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) This act ensures the health, safety and welfare of people at their work and also the people who use those places of work (eg colleges). It is a basic right of a person when they use a building or a service that they can do so safely and without a detrimental effect on their health.