Teaching Geography in Secondary Schools: A Reader

By Maggie Smith | Go to book overview

22

Understanding how geographical educators learn in their work

An important basis for their professional development
Rod Gerber
Adult learning from the basis of experience
Geographical educators, like all other adults, should be conscious that they continue to learn throughout their lives through professional and everyday experiences that are situated in different formal and informal contexts. This lifelong process can be explained by understanding the interrelatedness of the concepts of lifelong learning, everyday learning, situated learning and experience-based learning. Previous wisdom has concluded that learning:
• occurs incidentally in the early years of life;
• is cultivated formally during the schooling years;
• is acquired and refined in one's work;
• is largely non-existent during one's later years.
Often, these foci were considered in isolation and were unrelated. Nowadays, it is held that learning is a lifelong process - something which individuals do naturally and often with different forms of assistance. Theorists such as Brookfield (1986), Cafferella and O'Donnell (1991), Candy (1991) and Hammond and Collins (1991) have recognized this in their considerations of adolescent and adult learning. Their recognition that learning is a process which pervades our lives is strong. Consider ation is offered for the nature of this learning in terms of the extent to which it is directed or self-directed. Geographical educators may undertake formal study at a university to obtain a higher degree. This is a directed form of learning. Alternatively, they may investigate a different teaching strategy by exploring, in a self-directed manner, various sources and people to learn more about it with a view to using it in their classes. By so doing, geographical educators are engaging in adult education. Foley (1995: xiv) states that adult education can take one of four forms:
1 Formal education that is organized by professional educators, where there is a defined curriculum, and which often leads to a qualification, e g. completing a PGCE course to become a geography teacher.

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