Thursday, 7 July 2016

Books for adult educators

Adult educators tend to work with learners who have often been damaged in some way during their time in education.  This may take the form of emotional damage due to falling behind their own, and peers, expectations for learning. It may include a lack of reading, numeracy, writing, speaking or listening skills. It may relate to a lack of self-confidence. However, no matter what the situation, adult educators require a range of skills to both repair/develop self-confidence and positive identities, and to develop skills and knowledge.    

I am going to discuss seven books that I believe, will make you a better literacy and numeracy educator.  In my case, these books have stimulated almost all of the content I've developed over the years.  If I could only pick seven books that I think every adult literacy and numeracy educator should read this is the list. These books cover hard skills, like how to teach literacy and numeracy, and social aspects such as overcoming the damage done during the school years.  They are also inspiring and optimistic - a vital element of longevity in this domain.

The first one is: Flourish by Martin Seligman

  • Will it change your life if you read it? Yes.
  • Does it provide hard skills? No.
  • Will it help me recognize, and address, problems I am aware of but unable to define? Yes.
  • Will I be better able to support and progress those around me?  Without a doubt.

In a nutshell, 'Flourish' defines and provides a framework for happiness (PERMA).  We need happiness, and we want others to have it. This book discusses how to cultivate dispositions and habits that lead to happiness, durability, resilience, persistence and grit. It also provides ways to diagnose, and improve happiness, but not in a counselor type approach.  Right now this would not appeal to me, but the strength of this book is that it integrates the principles into education.  The author, Seligman, comes from a background of research with 'learned helplessness'.  Learned helplessness is a huge hidden problem in adult education.  Seligman discusses how to address it, ultimately improving the lives of learners beaten up by life's difficulties. The US Military have adopted many of its principles and they are the most pragmatic organisation on the planet.  So trust me, it is very practical. I dare you to read it and not immediately add it to your educational tool box. 

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