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Adult Learners Need to Adapt

Many years ago, Charles Darwin provided the world with the theory of evolution. The primary tenet of this theory was the concept of mass selection of the fittest. Those organisms and species that were able to adapt to changes in their environment survived. Those that failed to adapt became extinct.

The previous chapter presented a picture of a totally enthusiastic and uninhibited child learner being changed into a passive, intimidated adult learner due to the system -- teachers, teaching methods, curricula and failure to allow for individual differences.

In all fairness, the generalizations made were not intended to be a universal indictment of education and learning in the United States. We have some outstanding educators. We enjoy some of the best schools in the world. However, in general, the educational system and learning theory and practices are, and probably always will be, in need of review and change. Such an endeavor is time consuming and, consequently, today's needed changes may not occur for many years, by which time they will require reconsideration and further modification.

Since education and learning always may be imperfect at best and continuously in a state of change, what can the learner do to facilitate and improve the quality of learning? Basically, the answer to this question is that the adult learner must be able to adapt to the learning environment in order to survive and benefit from the imperfect system. This means understanding how we learn, sharpening our adult learning skills and approaching learning with a positive attitude.