Teaching adults is in the main easier than teaching children as adults want to be there and have a longer attention span.
Teaching adults should be different if adults learn differently than children do. Theories or perspectives on adult learning, such as andragogy, make a number of assertions about the characteristics of adults as learners. If there are distinctive characteristics of adults, on which claims for the uniqueness and coherence of adult education are based, then these need to be accounted for in all organized education for adults.
Research promotes a learner-centred teaching style for adult education. Other studies suggest learner-centred approaches are an expression of a teacher’s values, not a teaching method.
I agree with further research that states adult learners are more concerned with teacher character and appropriate teaching methods; adult students’ conceptions of good teaching include a mix of teacher-directed and learner-centred characteristics.
Ongoing debates–andragogy against pedagogy, teacher directed against learner centred–may mean no single theory explains how adult learning differs from children’s learning. Appropriate choices about teaching practices should be based on numerous considerations, including context, learner knowledge and characteristics, and teacher beliefs and values.
Differences in Classroom Style
Kids learn dance in school and further their activities in the evening or on weekends, creating an exceptionally large demand for teachers. Adult courses will generally be taught at night or on weekends and may be more limited in availability and level.
Here are a few other differences in classroom style to consider:
- Student-teacher ratio: Teaching adults generally involves much smaller classes than young learners. Lessons can be more individualized and teachers can get to know students when teaching small groups.
- Classroom activities: Since children are encouraged to learn dance through games, songs, artistic projects and storytelling to stay engaged, teachers have the chance to incorporate a lot of energy and excitement into their teaching that is not as common in adult programs.
- Rate of progress: As children are focussing only on the dancing, teachers are likely to see huge leaps in ability. Most adult learners have specific goals for acquiring dance skills, allowing them to reach a direct and immediate impact of their learning in their daily lives, even though their progress may not be as rapid.
- Behaviour: Young learners are inconsistent in their motivation and mood, which presents challenges for teachers. Leading a young-age group class demands patience and a more diverse repertoire of learning activities as opposed to working with middle-aged or old students.
Achievement and Expectations
Another major difference when teaching young learners versus teaching adults is the expectation placed on instructors. Teachers must assess their own mastery of dance and their ability to handle pressure from students.
- Topic relevance: When teaching older students, topics should be relevant to more personal or daily life experiences, making it easier to create engaging lesson plans.
- Terminology: Teaching adults requires a much higher mastery of dance terminology given that concepts need to be taught effectively to older students. Beginner-level children classes require only a general understanding of terminology so teachers face fewer grammatical demands during the class.
- Pressure: Teachers are under more pressure when leading classes of mature learners because expectations are higher as these students pay for their classes themselves. Instructors need to be able to create a clear vision of their curriculum and deliver results.
I feel the difference of teaching young learners versus teaching adults can be best approached by knowing your own strengths as a teacher. To determine which group of students you are best suited to lead, consider your teaching style and mastery of the dance before applying for a teaching position.
I like adults as there is more involvement in the actual dancing than focus on behaviour!
But I like kids as they are wee positive sponges