Adult Education and Training Courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Have you ever had the urge to teach, but prefer the idea of working in the more collegiate environment of the adult classroom working with mature learners eager for knowledge but ready to challenge your methods and assumptions Then adult education might be the career for you.

We feature plenty of part time course options here on that will set you on your way to a life as an adult education teacher or trainer, or reinforce your experience in the area with a well-regarded qualification.

With no need to confiscate mobiles, break up scuffles or admonish youths for their unruly haircuts it is tempting to assume that adult education is an easier ride than traditional pedagogy. However, the truth is that andragogy the art of teaching adults features its own unique challenges. The different experiences, abilities, motivations and ambitions of adult learners makes for a very different type of classroom.

Training is a specific type of adult education that is more specifically targeted at developing skills for the workplace. Train the trainer programmes will provide you with the ability to design, deliver and manage training programmes, formulate effective assessments, improve your presentation skills, design training appropriate to different social and economic groups, and much more.

To help us understand the differences between pedagogy and andragogy, we look to the work of renowned American adult educator Malcolm Knowles (1913-1997). The following are his six principles of adult learning, with accompanying examples of what this might mean for the teaching method:

Adults are motivated and self-directed learners

Projects and tasks should reflect their personal or career interests, and their motivation should be kept high through regular and constructive feedback.

Adults bring life experiences and knowledge to the classroom

Their experience can be utilised through problem-solving and assisting their peers.

Adults are goal-oriented

The benefits of learning to their personal development, health or career should be clear.

Adults are relevancy-oriented

Subject matter should be clearly related to the learner’s ambitions, which can be reinforced through the selection of appropriate projects. For instance, a marketing student might put together a campaign for their sponsor company.

Adults are practical

Hands-on, interactive learning works best with the majority of adult learners.

Adult learners like to be respected

Adults should not be treated like children! Encouragement of expression of opinion and a high level of student input is essential.

Got you interested There are plenty of profiled colleges in the National Education Database that feature great course options in this fascinating area. NUI Maynooth for instance provide a range of adult education courses, while other programmes include the Certificate in Teaching Adult Learners (St John’s Central College), and the Higher Diploma in Management of Adult Learning Programmes & Services (Centre for Adult Continuing Education – UCC).

Train the Trainer programmes are suitable for those interested in a career in training & development. Part time courses are available from Clane Community School, College of Progressive Education, City Colleges, Litton Lane Training, and Galway Business School.

Frank Bolger

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