‘Andragogy’ a term originally coined by German educator Alexander Kapp and popularized by US educator Malcolm Knowles refers to adult learning. You might be wondering how it is any different from regular learning since children and adults both can potentially learn the same things.

While that is true, there are many factors that differentiate adult and child learning in the way of approach.

The number one differentiating factor is that as children, we HAVE to learn. We’re sent to learn in a formal setting and we have no pressure of earning a living to weigh us down.

And as children, the question of ‘what do you want to do in life?’ doesn’t send us convulsing and wanting to hide undercover in bed muttering ‘I don’t know what I want to do in life!

So for the next time you want to pick up a skill to learn, take it easy and use the principles of adult learning to your benefit.

And no matter whether you want to take up formal learning at an adult learning center, or try your hand at independent self-learning using educational websites, these adult learning principles will motivate you to learn better!

1. Inculcate self-directed learning

When we’re young, our learning can be motivated by a lot of external factors, such as grades, our parents, teachers, peers, and a sense of competition in class.

On the other hand, in the first principle of adult learning, Knowles states that as adults, we must WANT to learn and have a strong inner motivation to push ourselves to develop a new skill or learn something new.

He also says we’re practical in our approach to learning. We can’t follow a curriculum that has subjects we might not be interested in or see no future prospect of helping us in our career or life.

Simply speaking, external factors cease to affect us because we’re caught up in life, carrying out the responsibilities that come with being an adult.

There’s much to do anyway! It might be a job or getting a college degree, earning money, managing that money, paying rent, doing chores, and of course, unwinding in front of the TV!

So if you’re looking to learn something new, make sure you’re really interested in it, and it has a very practical use in your career or life. Once you find the skill you want to learn, you could either find a good adult learning center or an educational website that helps you learn better.

2. Practice, practice, practice, and also have some fun

Another principle by Knowles states that adults learn by DOING, with active practice and participation.

And while we’re practicing, Knowles also states that as adults, we learn best in informal situations, by taking the responsibility and the value that achieving desired goals will bring to our lives.

So when taking up a new skill, try practicing it as much and as often you can. Find a good adult learning center or educational website that makes learning fun. Because if you have fun while doing it, chances are you will do it more than you anticipate, and get more motivation automatically!

3. Don’t let your prior knowledge come in the way

As adult learners, the one thing we need to be wary of is thinking we know it all! And let’s face it, we fall victim to such thoughts more often than not.

But when you sit to learn a new skill, you need to have fresh eyes and assume you know absolutely nothing. A fresh mindset can help look at old things with a newer perspective, thus strengthening what we’ve already learned before.

Say you pick up learning a skill you might have learned as a child, but didn’t continue learning. So now when you pick it up again, don’t rush through the bits you might have learned before. Learn it as if you were learning it for the first time and it will do you more good now.

4. Find like-minded people

Another one of Knowles adult learning principle states that being in an inviting, collaborative, and networking environment as an active participant in the learning process makes it efficient.

And as children, we had our own imaginative world at our disposal to help with learning. Think back on the times you would make your stuffed toys sit in front of you and play pretend to be a teacher when learning something for school.

Doing that as an adult, well, is just not possible!

So the best thing to do would be to find classes, adult learning centers or educational websites that bring like minded people together to make your learning experience collaborative and fun!

Now that you’ve read through these principles. Use them to help you level up your skillset, because the world is now yours to make!