Nothing stands still in life, with everything flowing and changing. That is why depending on who we are, what we do and where we would like to end up, we have to keep up with changes. Our motivation and ability to be open, learn, improve and move forward ensures continual development, corresponding opportunities for self-realization and the boosting of well-being. If we are not moving forward, then unfortunately, we are moving backwards, as nothing in life remains the same.
Adult learning provides for this movement and is of great importance. The goal of learning is not just to gain new knowledge and skills, but to also motivate and inspire, and to analyze attitudes, thinking and habits. This is why the learning process with adults is incredibly deep, complicated and valuable.
My experience shows that, even now, the emphasis in learning is often placed on passing on information – presentations and the quality of presentation. This is definitely of importance, but is only secondary. The skill of passing on information is only one of many competencies which are important to a presenter who is working with adults. If presentation was the main skill, then we could rely on captivating, interesting narratives in learning. Sounds good! Only … would this be effective in achieving the goal? The main goal is for adults to hear, understand and accept, but the main thing is to apply this in future. In principle, we want the learning to stimulate people to change some habits or to develop new ones, which would form the basis for their behaviour. How easy is this? And can a presenter to do this with a perfectly thought-out presentation? Again… if this was the case, everything would be very simple.
Adults analyze, compare, evaluate and accept or not accept, based on their experience, values, convictions, attitude, knowledge and even prejudices. Therefore, in the adult learning process, the presenter must be ready, able and willing to work with this totality. This is the big challenge which makes the adult learning process complicated. A presenter must, therefore, be able to question, listen, work with answers, and lead the discussion to the goal so that the information is not just passed on, but stimulates the participants to think about this themselves, to go into it in depth, to understand and make decisions about applying this in future or not.
It is these competencies, in particular, which determine whether an adult learning presenter is effective in their activities and whether there will adult learning, or only a presentation.
Skaidrīte Bulmeistere-Ikauniece, professional customer services and internal presenter, and sales skills presenter