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Fried Training Talk- Child vs. Adult Learners

Published: Friday, October 25, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2019

     What is the difference between teaching children in school and training adults on the job? It is a big question. Many speakers talk about this in day long seminars. Many professors spend days or even a full semester on it in college classes. Some will say that because it is a job, it is completely different. Some will say the age of those being trained makes a difference. Some say training is teaching there is no difference at all except the subjects being taught/trained.

     Cognitive Scientists will tell you neural pathways in an adult are physically different from those of an infant or a child. This is primarily because they’ve had experiences to form those pathways. It can be harder to train an adult because these pathways are already established; it can be easier because they have an experience base to build on.

     I believe for all ages and experience levels it is important for retention and behavior change to:

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    • Motivate Learners
    • Fully Engage learners
    • Give Learners opportunity to apply their learning

Since this is such a big topic I’ll put 2 questions out there this week.


    1. What else do you think is the same for all learners?
    2. What do you feel has to be done differently for more experienced learners?
4 Comments
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1. All learners like to be rewarded.
2. Ice breaker activities and the opportunity to engage in exploratory conversation with their facilitator. Learners could speak about why they are there, what they hope to take, and how will they implement what they take away from the course.
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1. Most learners can retain and use what they have learned.
2. Give them a chance to direct their own learning, such as using a jigsaw method, where they can learn something and share it with their peers. I've also recently discovered that adults like to have fun with learning too! I used to think adults learned in the typical college lecture style, but they enjoy stepping back to a time when they enjoyed learning, so to speak. Fun activities, group work, etc... tend to relate to adults.
I was referring to adult learners being able to retain (I guess I should have said, most of what they learn). I believe it is okay to allow children to direct their own learning as well and that could possibly enable them to pick up on the topic more quickly.
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Ms. Cromer- I want to make sure I understand . You are saying most of both Adult & Child learners generally can retain and use what they have learned, and that a difference is that only adults should be allowed to direct their own learning?
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