Principles of Adult Learning: the Perceptual Principle

44959302504762__898x505-ARGB_8888514827429Written by Dr J.P. Nel, MD Mentornet

It often surprises me when people see things completely different from me. Of course this does not mean that my perception is the only right one. Then again, it also does not mean that the way I see things is necessarily wrong. Point is, we need to keep in mind that people see things differently and we need to have much more patience than most of us normally have with those who disagree with us.

The following are a number of perceptual “facts” that we can utilise to improve the learning that we offer. Sadly, they are often also the ones that destroy our efforts to teach people – when we don’t pay attention to them.

People learn much better if the learning is attractive. This applies to the manner in which our learning aids are prepared, our speaking skills, the venue where we offer the learning and what we look like.

Learning should originate from observation, propositions and images of fantasy. One should start with the concrete and from there proceed to the abstract, although the other way around sometimes also works.

Perception is the observation of the world around us by means of all our sense and we should use them all to enhance learning.

The brain is capable of thinking in other ways than just to absorb and memorise information. We should also use innovation if we are to progress from the known to the unknown. That is how we grow in our intellectual capacity. That is also how students achieve self-actualisation.

We need to accept that people are not the same and we should not force them into one size fit all learning process. We need to embrace and respect differences between people if we are to make a positive difference to the whole.

I guess these rather cryptic remarks are sufficient food for thought to those who are not satisfied with just marking time on the same spot, year in and year out. Progress and growth can only be achieved if we grasp the opportunities that differences in perception allow us rather than to see it as a threat.

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