Adult Pride

The three of us have been friends for over twenty seven years. Over the years first our spouses joined us and we became a group of six. Then the group further extended with the advent of children. Today we are a total of eleven.  The busy schedules of all six of us have forced us to plan gatherings months in advance. In line with our “social objectives”, last week we had a big dinner all together. We are all from different professions but the common ground we share is the number of years we have spent in business life and the roles we have had either as managers or as subordinates. So the discussions are always very interesting and lively.

This time after discussing various topics, we began to talk about management. One of us asked a series of questions about what good management is about. A deep silence descended as each of us felt a bit too anxious about giving a wrong answer. We suddenly found ourselves waiting for the correct answers from the person who was posing all the questions. The anxiety which made us all silent is because adults participate and learn only in some certain conditions. Since adult learning principles are a part of the “Train the Trainer” training program which I have been facilitating for years, I promised the group that I would make a compilation of adult learning principles and send it to them all.

A great learning experience for me was my training visit to Mayo Clinic, Rochestor-USA in 2002. Acibadem Healthcare team with Mayo Clinic executives

Basically, adult learning is different from child learning which is known as ‘pedagogy’.  Learning principles, which are focused on adults, is known as ‘androgogy’. These can be summarized as follows:

Characteristics of the Adult

Conditions for Adult Learning 

  • Learns if he/she feels the need to do so
  • Must understand how and why learning will take place
  • Has specific needs in mind
  • Wants fast and concrete results
  • Connects what he/she is learning with his/her own personal experience
  • Starts with what he/she knows, his/her own reality by using simple examples
  • Is proud. Must feel independent and self-sufficient
  • Wants to play an active role in the act of learning
  • Is critical of theories, wants to feel the actual experience behind the theory
  • Needs for hearing experience, examples and proofs
  • Learns through practise
  • Desires concrete and realistic applications
  • Wants to successfully complete the tasks he/she is asked to do
  • Motivated by gradually increasing level of difficulty in the activities
  • Needs to feel listened to, understood and supported
  • Always needs to be reassured and encouraged


A guide for adult learning in classroom training:

  • Go from the general to the specific, the easy to the hard, the known to the unknown
  • Give explanations and practical examples
  • Establish a connection with the final objective
  • Give information progressively and in bite-size pieces
  • Show the learner you empathize with him/her,  you are open-minded and want to cooperate
  • Avoid threats and negative criticism
  • Recognize the right to make mistakes, it is an essential part of the learning process
  • Create a safe atmosphere which is conducive for discussion
  • Give the learner the opportunity to try new things
  • Regularly evaluate the learner’s progress
  • Do not give the information too fast
  • Observe and take into account the individual’s non-verbal communication
  • Speak in a pleasant tone of voice

Looking forward to our next meeting, I feel that our lasting friendship makes us feel stronger in our learning journeys which started in the same classroom as teenagers and continues in the adult world.

Meetings with HR colleagues in Mayo Clinic helped me learn about HR practices that make Mayo Clinic on the list of America's "100 Best Companies to Work For"

Mayo Clinic has been near the top of the “US News and World Report List of Best Hospitals” for more than 20 years. On-site experience increased my insights about Mayo Clinic service quality standards
Edited by Neville Wells

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