When most people think of learning, they think of their school days, sitting
in a classroom. Rows of desks and chairs faced the teacher at the front of the room. Your job as a student was to be quiet, listen to the teacher, and do what you were told. This is an example of teacher-centered learning, usually involving children, called pedagogy.
Adult learners have a different approach to learning. By the time they reach adulthood, they are most likely responsible for their own success and they are capable of making their own decisions once they have the information they need.
Adults learn best when learning is focused on them, not the teacher. This is called andragogy, the process of helping adults learn.
Malcolm Knowles, a pioneer in the study of adult learning, observed that adults learn best when:
1) They understand why something is important to know or do.
2) They have the freedom to learn in their own way.
3) Learning is experiential.
4) The time is right for them to learn.
5) The process is positive and encouraging.
Continuing education is a broad term. In the most general sense, any time adults return to a classroom of any kind to learn something new, they are continuing their education.
This type of education can encompass everything from graduate degrees to listening to personal development CDs in the car.
Common types of continuing education include earning a GED, post-secondary degree, or professional certification, studying English as a second language, or exploring personal development.
The methods involved in achieving continuing education are just as diverse. School can be a traditional classroom or a conference center near a beach. Studying might start before dawn or after a day of work. Programs can take months, even years, to complete or last only a few hours.
Continuous learning, no matter how old you are, has clear benefits, from finding and keeping a dream job to remaining fully engaged in life in later years. It's never too late to learn.
If you are considering going back to school, what is it you want to learn or achieve? Have you been meaning to go back to school to earn your GED? Your bachelor's degree? Is your professional certificate in danger of expiring? Do you feel the urge to grow personally, learn a new hobby, or advance in your company?
Also ask yourself these questions, keeping in mind how adult learning differs from childhood learning:
1) Why am I thinking about school lately?
2) What exactly do I want to achieve?
3) Can I afford it?
4) Can I afford not to?
5) Is this the right time in my life?
6) Do I have the discipline and the freedom to study?
7) Can I find the right school, the one that will help me learn the way I learn best?
8) How much encouragement will I need and can I get it?
It seems like a lot to think about, but remember, if adults want something, they are capable of making it happen. And there are a lot of people available to help.
Here are some educational options in Memphis.
Concorde Career College
Concorde Career College specializes in health-care training for some of the most recession-proof jobs. Train for a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician, medical assistant, physical therapist assistant, medical office professional, dental assistant, dental hygienist, and more.
Check out concorde4me.com for a complete program list, or call 1-800-249-7547.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral School
Immaculate Conception (IC) offers co-educational pre-K through 8th grade and an all-girls college preparatory high school.
IC has been providing a challenging curriculum in a caring community for over 85 years.
Families have chosen the school because of its emphasis on academics, spiritual growth, and diverse student body. It strives to enroll students who are creative and motivated so that the school can help them achieve their goals.
The school is located at 1695 Central Avenue in Midtown Memphis. Call 435-5309 for more information.
Rhodes College's Meeman Center for Lifelong Learning, founded in 1944, offers stress-free liberal arts education. Applications are being accepted now for spring classes, some of which start immediately.
Go to rhodes.edu/academics/1278.asp for more information.
Union University - Germantown
Union's MBA program in Germantown emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. Students attend school one night per week and finish in two years. Classes are taught by qualified faculty and are never canceled. Union is a fully accredited institution founded in Jackson in 1823.
The school is located at 2745 Hacks Cross Road. Call 759-0029 for information or go to uu.edu.
University of Memphis
Professional and continuing education at the University of Memphis provides non-credit courses to learners from every walk of life. The university has some of the most interesting and informative educational resources in the area, providing face-to-face and online courses for adults and customized training for businesses.
Call 678-6000 for information or visit umce.memphis.edu.
Vatterott Career College -
Vatterott Career College offers diploma programs in cosmetology, homeland security, information systems security, medical assistant, programming and data simulation, wireless communication, and an associate of occupational studies degree in diesel mechanics.
Day, evening, and weekend schedules are available. The college is located at 6991 Appling Farms Parkway. Call 372-2399 or go to vatterott-college.edu.