Progressively Self-Actualizing

Note – This series of blogposts are reflections I’m writing in the Executive Chief Learning Officer certification program I’m in at George Mason University. We are the initial participants. Stay tuned for final analysis of the program in June 2016.

As a big fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, it was nice to see that my 97% score came under the Humanistic category. Even if it was closely followed by a 96% in Progressive. According to the criteria, it is normal for these to be interrelated.  I do want to progressively go through whatever effort it takes to self-actualize – personally and in helping others learn.

Screenshot of Rebecca's PAEI survey results

There weren’t big gaps in my scores and that’s ok. One of the struggles I’ve had with categorizing adult learning theories over the years go back to my substitute teaching experiences. As an enthusiastic self-provider, I liked that I could earn money and have a completely different teaching experience each day (e.g. different schools, different grade levels, different subjects). Each hour brought new classes, students, and subject areas. After learning about adult learning theories (years later), I realized that I used insights and methods from multiple theories sometimes within minutes of each other. I didn’t want to pigeon hole myself to subscribing to one philosophy.

The Adult Learning readings were yet another reminder that I view all adult learning theories, and their associated tools/approaches, as part of my learning toolkit.The framework (learner, process, context) offered by Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner is an effective differentiation between adult and childhood learning, though I’m still reflecting on the additions to the framework – learning design/facilitation and culture. If I claim to be high on the humanistic/progressive scale, these two areas should be highly important. It should force me to think through how each learner will change, perform, or improve based upon the learning ecosystem I seek to create. The Smith reference about how the “technical rational Western approach to learning fails to honor the intellectual, emotional, physical, social, aesthetic, and spiritual aspects that are important in many non-Western cultures” (Page 254) is especially sticky. Honoring cultures other than my own as I lead, create, and participate in learning experiences ultimately extends my own ability to add value to whomever I influence.

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