February 1996 // Volume 34 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT3
Training Teachers: A Harvest of Theory and Practice
This practical and fascinating book provides teaching strategies consistent with the issues related to adult learning. It nudges the reader to see more than "facts" which must be "transferred" to learners. Written for trainers in the early childhood field, the "harvest" metaphors used throughout this work might make adult education seem alive for colleagues in agriculture-related fields. Cross-discipline discussion on the ways of teaching and learning included in this book might help Extension explore new ways of conducting adult education.
Carter, M. & Curtis, D. (1994). Training teachers: A harvest of theory and practice. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf. 274 pages. ISBN: 0-934140-82-0. $32.95 paperback.
Carter and Curtis have written a practical and fascinating book for adult educators, including those in Extension. Most training manuals are cookbooks of workshop recipes. "Training Teachers" is different, however, because it looks at how adults learn and, more importantly, how adults teach other adults. This work nudges the reader to see more than mere "facts" which must be "transferred" to learners. It is written for the trainer who has subject-matter expertise, but may not have a background in adult education.
As the subtitle implies, both theory and practice are included and the result incorporates what we know about adult learners. Carter and Curtis don't emphasize the distinctions between adult and child learners. Their background in human development helps them to see both children and adults as active learners who construct knowledge through interaction with things, ideas, and other people. This discussion, supported by thinkers such as Jean Piaget and Eleanor Duckworth, may surprise some readers. Their ideas in this area might challenge common misunderstandings of "stages" in child development, particularly in Piaget's theory.
"Training Teachers" includes Howard Gardner's theories of multiple intelligences. Varieties of intelligence are described with strategies for appropriate teaching methods. The work of Mary Belenky and others who have studied "women's ways of knowing" is also included. Practical tips to move learners from "silence" to "constructed knowledge" provide a framework for education meaningful to adults. Through the process described, learners can control their learning and their knowledge.
Many ideas in this book relate to early childhood classrooms and parenting. Child development topics such as discipline, ages and stages, and literacy are presented in different ways than the typical training manual. Whether or not you use all the ideas, this work certainly could breathe new life into old programs.
Finally, Carter and Curtis tackle the important topic of anti-bias curriculum. Anti-bias curriculum includes challenging oppressive systems, from the classroom to the community. Readers won't feel overwhelmed, however. In a style consistent with their ideas of teaching and learning, there is space for the reader to learn more about racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.
"Training Teachers" clearly is relevant for Extension staff in family life, consumer and family economics, or youth development. The metaphors of "harvest," "planting the seed," "preparing the landscape," and "tools for learning" used throughout this work might also make adult education seem alive for colleagues in agriculture-related fields. Cross-discipline discussion on the ways of teaching and learning included might help Extension explore new ways of conducting adult education.