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Professional educators

Educators are professionals, however, they do not identify with the profession. [1] Many more people are adult educators than who take on the term of adult educator. [2] As Marsick and Watkins point out, educators typically enter the education field rather than initially start in it; they are practitioners first before being educators. Most adult educators are not versed in effective principles for teaching adult learners; they may never be formally trained as educators and instead learn by doing. [2] [1] Knowles adds that good educators are developed through instruction of sound learning principles otherwise we maintain a force of amateurs. Although educators want to learn, they may not be good at it. [1]

The changing mission

According to Knowles (1980), the mission of adult educators is to take care of the needs and goals of the individual, needs and goals of the institution, and needs and goals of society. [2] At one time, the goal of education was to supply students with all the knowledge they needed for a lifetime; however, the more realistic goal is to help adults stay current and relevant. Knowles adds that adult educators must stress the importance of lifelong learning and how to pursue it. Instructors are moving from sage on the stage to guide on the side; Adult educators must now take on the role of facilitators and resources for learners. Educators try to empower people and improve systems. [1] Marsick and Watson add educators believe themselves to be change agents, they want to move past limitations.

In the teaching field, there is an increased emphasis on lifelong and informal learning in order to stay relevant in the professional field. [3] As teachers gain experience, they rely more and more on informal learning to stay current. Based on research, learning activities can be organized in four categories: learning by experimenting (trial and error), learning by reflecting on personal teaching practices, learning by getting ideas from others, and learning by doing. [3]

Educators and informal learning

Educators should be encouraged to explore other informal learning strategies to help with their learning. [3] Educators who are not involved in regular professional development activities vary in levels of adjustment to new concepts. Educators are often involved in reactive learning, which is when they must react to an unscheduled change of events often that are not planned out. [4] Educators are flexible in adapting to changes, they apply experience to their training sessions, and they develop rules to apply to situations. [1] Educators looked for resources to help them learn; they often reflected on the situation to find resources, question the norm, and experiment with new methods. Marsick and Watkins explain that educators are continually search for new ideas, never being satisfied. They are open to new ideas and approaches. They will collect resources or gravitate to discovering resources. Finally, educators also need relationships with others, they learn from a wide range of people. Marsick and Watkins interestingly point out that managers typically learn from bosses but not peers.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Marsick, V., & Watkins, K. (1990). Informal and incidental learning in the workplace. New York: Routledge.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (Rev. and Updated.). Chicago: Association Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hoekstra, A., Brekelmans, M., Beijaard, D., & Korthagen, F. (2009). Experienced teachers’ informal learning: Learning activities and changes in behavior and cognition. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5), 663–673. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2008.12.007
  4. Williams, A. (2003). Informal learning in the workplace: A case study of new teachers. Educational Studies (03055698), 29(2/3), 207. doi:10.1080/0305569032000092853

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