"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Being an Adult Learner

      We have expectations, we register for a class, we work and we learn.  As an adult our expectations are different than those of the K-12 learners who are essentially forced into education.  We possess some control.  We are paying for academic freedom.  We weigh what we will learn and what we are willing to invest time in learning.  We bring our own backgrounds into the classroom, much broader and more diverse because of our years.  When education happens it is often because our choices as adult learners lead us to question our assumptions about the education we expected and the education we discover.  Preconceived notions about what we’ll learn are often shattered as we make the choice to experience our own education. 

       We may enter into a classroom looking for that formal education.  Yet quite often what happens is the informal learning.  It’s providence that we are led through the educational information (Thank you Bill).  What we discover along the way broadens our horizons more and education happens.  It’s exciting, it’s enriching, and it’s revitalizing no matter our age.

      To make this education happen all of us juggle something.  Maybe we’ve put spouses on hold, or shifted our children’s needs to someone else.  Maybe we take the stairs on Tuesdays because we can’t fit exercise into our day any other way.  We might eat on the run and still feed others.  Our time and our energy may be spread thin, our careers demanding of us.  Yet in my case I knew I had reached a learning plateau in my current field and I was ready for the next step.  It was time to get off that plateau and climb the next mountain.  I needed more.

      Within this program I started with a plan in mind and I’ve already learned that every moment is more.  My experiences and what I’ve learned in class, in my studies and with my colleagues shapes how my plan will evolve.  No matter the challenges of being here, I appreciate every moment of this personal growth that I have chosen to embark on.  Maybe this is just a feel good post, but as the semester winds down I found myself would up.  It’s a journey and it has just begun.  Thank you for joining me.


  1. Hi Lisa - I relate to everything you've written. As semesters of study come to a close, I begin to feel lonely. I'm not ready for the learning to end, I'm not ready to go back to work and make sense of it in a new way, I'm not ready to stop being a student. I think what I'm really not ready for is letting go of the classmates who understand me and what I'm going through. So, if this makes sense to you, believe me when I say you are not alone in the way you feel!

    OK, let's remind ourselves that we'll be together in class again soon!

    Thank you for writing this message to us. Susan

  2. Lisa, - thank you for putting our experience as life-long learners so eloquently. As I finished my first cup of Sunday morning coffee - trying to figure out which task(s) should get priority today - I read your post. Life demands have a way of not allowing us to linger, to savor, our moments of discovery with fellow travelers. So thank you for an excellent segue into an early morning meditation of gratitude. Take care, Susan

  3. I'm chiming in here as well, Lisa. As a lifelong learner, I find that while it's important to me to do my job well, I chose a career where I'll never really get good at what I do. It causes some consternation, but after reading these posts today, I see that continuing to learn keeps me able to keep looking for new things to learn.

    Joyce M.

  4. Lisa, it is an honor to be on this astonishing journey with you. Through dialogue with you (and your classmates) life is constantly revealing itself to me too...reminding me not to put too much stock into today's horizon, cause it will be even larger tomorrow. This makes me think of us all as connoisseurs of learning: Connoisseurs tend to be a little wonky, nerdy, geeky about their "thing" (art, video games, wine, Chaucer, teaching, learning, whatever). And connoisseurs, through their own zest for living, push each other toward refining their craft. This may not be unique to adult learning, but it IS a hallmark of it!


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.