Ready to Learn – Taking the First Step

‘Oh I was just wondering have you got a moment, I just want to ask you about something‘ she had arrived at NCI reception and they suggested I might meet with her. ‘No problem at all‘ I assured her while thinking how much I had to do that afternoon. Five minutes later she sat in my office. She was very nervous and I thought I noticed a slight trembling in her voice. Her name was Susan. ‘It’s like this‘ she said ‘I was thinking of doing a course here but I am not sure if I’d be able for it‘. She went on to tell me her story. She left school at sixteen without a Leaving Cert. She worked in the retail sector for the last twenty five years and now she is a manager. She is married with three kids and two of them are in college. She reads a lot and is well liked by her colleagues. Generally, she’s happy. But there’s always been a niggle. An unease and sense of being often left out, ignored and taken-for-granted. ‘Sure what would Susan know‘ she once overheard a younger colleague remark. Susan explained that she has been thinking about Read More …

What are New Year’s resolutions and why they seldom work

New Year’s Celebration fireworks at Carton House, Maynooth Happy New Year! It’s the start of 2011 and last night we celebrated as we said goodbye to 2010 and welcomed the turn over to a New Year. At New Year and perhaps birthdays or other recurring significant dates we often conduct a self-appraisal and make decisions about our future behaviour. This is typically framed as a New Year’s Resolution: I will go to the gym and loose weight;I will give up smoking;I will do a course;I will complete an unfinished project (I know someone who has resolved to complete her master’s dissertation). So what’s really happening–why do we make such self-resolutions?  How likely are we to succeed in changing our own behaviour as a result of such public and private utterances? Last night I had an idea (my first of 2011) that is to develop a Theory of Resolutions.  Like many good theories will build extensively on the work of others.  Don’t worry that I state my goal in such grand terms as ‘a theory’ – I am simply attempting to provide a new perspective on the familiar, a framework for understanding and making sense of an aspect of our life.  Read More …

On Motivation and Learning

Much of the scholarship on adult learning can be summarised in the following statement:Adult’s learn what they want to learn and what they find useful and applicable to their life experience.In contrast, young people, certainly up to teenage years, are happy to learn what is put before them.  Adults, on the other hand, will discriminate and select when it comes to learning.It stands to reason therefore that motivation for learning is an important topic in adult education.  Motivation theories address the question of why we learn as distinct from cognitive theories that try to explain how we learn.When we use the term “motivation” in everyday life it can mean several different things – we often say “the football team came out motivated by the half-time talk” or such a person is a “motivational speaker”.  In these examples we see motivation as a kind of energy or mind set that can be triggered for short intervals of time.  Another meaning we have for motivation suggests a long term quality, a propensity to achieve – one who is “motivated to get to the top”.  But motivation is not always directed at achievement – when a crime is committed we know that every Read More …