In 1969 Carl Rogers, who was instrumental in establishing humanism as a learning theory, wrote that “an educated person is one who has learned how to learn…how to adapt and change.” (p.31). This quote is powerful in expressing the notion that no matter how much factual knowledge an individual possesses, if that individual does not adopt the behaviours of a lifelong learner, their knowledge will essentially become obsolete. Rogers conveys, that in order to stay educated one must continue to adapt to the ever changing world around us.
As an educator in the 21st century, it is my responsibility to challenge and push my students to develop into lifelong learners. In today’s learning society it is not enough to just impart the knowledge that I possess onto my students; I must push them to explore the concept of learning how to learn and encourage them to adapt and embrace change in a learning society that will be forever growing, for those who don’t, will get left behind and become obsolete.
As an educator in the world today, I have a responsibility, not only to myself but to my students as well, to ensure that I too am continually learning and adapting to change. Whilst researching this quote, I came upon a powerful quote by Bruce Lee in which he states “a teacher is never a giver of truth- he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst.” This quote speaks to me in that it solidified the notion that, as an adult educator it is necessary for me to provide my students with facts, the tools to reflect on these facts and the ability to reach their own conclusions.
Through reflection on Rogers quote, I have come to realize that in the future it is necessary for me to spend more time inspiring my students to develop their critical thinking skills and encourage them to question the information they are being taught. In a learning society it is not enough to just receive information and equate it to being the truth; it is necessary to look deeper into the teachings, process the information through reflection, and develop your own clear understanding of the principles being taught. As an adult educator, it is my job to act as a facilitator throughout this process as the students embark on their independent pursuit of knowledge.
Being an adult educator in a learning society is now more important than ever before. If we do not teach our students how to become lifelong learners, enabling them to become productive and competitive members in the workforce, then we have failed in our job to educate them. As Norman Longworth (2003) wrote
If ever we thought that lifelong learning could be implemented easily the (initial) task list should make us stop and think again. Everywhere and for years to come, there is much to be done. It demands insight, wisdom, energy and commitment- and leadership through a professional organization.
Wow, what a profound statement! We, as adult educators of the future, sure have a vastly monumental task ahead of us.