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Adults vs children


Hi all,

I am in the process of writing a 'Train the Trainer' course for a group of relatively new trainers, and want to include a quick exercise to introduce the differences between how adults and children learn. I want something that is pretty entry level, and easy to facilitate as all the trainers have some form of physical disability and/or visual impairment.

Any suggestions or pointers in the right direction would be gratefully received.

Many thanks, Gemma.

6 Responses

  1. Why?

    Hi Gemma

    It might explain if you told us why you want you do this?

    Are the trainers going to be working with children and adults?

    What do you want them to learn by looking at the differences between adults and children?




  2. Train the Trainer

    Dear Gemma

    I used to run Train the Trainer for new trainers, and I am not sure if this will work with your group but a variation on a theme may work.

    Divide the room into smaller groups (of 2 or 3 depending on how big the group etc)

    Give them all a sealed envelope and tell them they all have a task which is detailed inside the envelope and that they have x minutes to prepare a training programme for the rest of the group.

    The task is essentially the same for each group (in this case ‘to deliver an x minute session to the rest of the group on how to make a paper aeroplane), but each group is given certain criteria as follows:-

    Group 1 – Must deliver the session vocally

    Group 2 – Must deliver the session vocally but can also use a flipchart for diagrams

    Group 3 – Can use handouts, diagrams, but no words must be spoken

    Group 4 – Must demonstrate how to make a paper aeroplane in front of the class, but can only answer questions, not give instructions to the group.

    Group 5 – Add in your own limitations here, to fit in with the group dynamics/disabilities/facilities etc.

    You can make changes to suit as necessary, but I used this to try to show a group of adults that teaching people is not about a teacher standing up in front of the class writing things on a blackboard, or copying out of a text book (a lot of adults perceptions of learning), it is about the whole interactive process, and that learning is about discovering how to do something yourself in some cases.

    Please let me know how you get on, its been a while since doing this and I would really like to know how you get on.

    Angela MacAusland

  3. Why?

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry, some context would probably have been useful!!
    The trainers in question have been delivering disability awareness training in schools for some time, and I have been brought in as the project is now expanding to encompass training adults in private sector environments on disability equality. Although all the trainers are extremely knowledgeable on their subject, part of my job is to prepare them for the challenges they will face in delivering to a completely new audience.

    I am looking to introduce them to the differences between andragogy and pedagogy and how they can adapt the training they already deliver to the new audience – identifying different kinds of activity which will appeal to the different learner groups. I’m looking for a user friendly exercise that will introduce the topic, as all the ones I’ve found so far (and personally experienced) are quite dry and very focused towards trainers with plenty of background knowledge/experience.

    I hope that helps!

  4. Train the Trainer

    Hi Angela,

    Thanks so much for the exercise, it sounds like a really fun way of introducing the topic and getting people thinking. Unfortunately my learners almost all have severe physical disabilities which would preclude the building of airoplanes, so I’m going to have a think to see if I can adapt this in some way to make it accessible for them. Will let you know if I’m successful!


  5. Why?

    Thanks Gemma

    I have attached a poster that could be used as a guided discussion?


    Why is the point relevant?

    What, as trainers could you do to ensure this is acknowledged?

    Why doesn’t this apply to children? Or does it?

    Poster attached…

    Good luck



  6. Arabic saying on difference between adults and children learning

    -Hi Gemma,

    I’ve just read your query and this isn’t the answer to your question but is on the topic:

    Training adults [to be trainers] in Damascus recently we were discussing the differences in how children and adults learn.  One of my participants recited this in Arabic- it’s either a poem or saying:

    "When children learn something it is like carving in stone – they will remember it forever;

    When adults learn it is like writing words in water."

    I found it a useful image to remind me and my participants how many challenges you face when training adults.  They have reasonably full minds and memories already (so you need to clear some space) and they also think they already know a lot.


    Good luck,

     Lyn Hartman

    Independent Trainer

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