Friday, 6 July 2012

Adult learners don't want to go to school, really

So are we ready for a national model for continuing education and training?
Professor Stephen Billett certainly thinks we are.
Singapore's great challenge for CET is that we are playing catchup in terms of training our adult workforce, especially for the 40+ age group.
Unlike initial preparatory training, which comes under the purview of MOE, CET has been supported by MOM, mainly through initiatives by WDA and IAL.
We can do more, says Prof Billett.
He envisions a national CET model, which marries MOE and MOM, where WDA and IAL focuses on providing dedicated CET centres, and where grassroots organisations, through People's Association and community centres, help adult learners pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
The key, he says of adult learners, is not to treat them as students, but to engage them through learning dialogues.
CET should be more than just training programmes, it is about a learning process.
In other words, adult learners don't want to go back to school, they simply want to learn.
While it may be easy to quantify CET simply by administrating courses and, as Prof Billett puts it, counting bums on seats, the challenge is for us to go beyond the orthodoxy, to focus on helping those who want to learn, learn.
And maybe merge a couple of ministries while we're at it, eh?


  1. Prof Billett proposes Singapore to move from CET to CEL - continuing Educative Learning.

  2. 'Adult learners don't want to go to school' - true, neither do schoolkids. At least not the school in the sense that Stephen meant it, a place where you are controlled and not empowered, are directed rather than guided, are talked at rather that with... Whatever is said about androgogy and the needs of adult learners I can always see as statements that are equally valid for all learners.
    And v.v about the desirable pedagogies for people - very often what is good for them would be good for adults too.
    Is there really a critical difference between adult and child learning? All Stephen's wonderful examples of the pedagogies of practice work for all ages, don't they?

  3. Understanding-based theory of competence - the different levels are revealed through experts interviewing trainees - could this methodology be developed into a protocol for trainees to 'interview' each other and come to a similar understanding of the relative levels?

    1. Yes, Jorgen does believe this approach could be developed as a methodology for adoption by any teacher in any adult learning context.
      This would make a great pedagogical pattern for sharing with others!