My Interpretation Of Indigenous Learning And The Theories Of Adult Learning And Development   Leave a comment

It is the passage discussing indigenous learning that stood out for me with regard to the theories of adult learning and development. In summing up the passage, it is the holistic learning aspect which incorporates the mind, body and, spirit as it connects to nature. It is social learning based on community, family and one’s ancestors. This is where storytelling and passing down of information from one generation to the next is done through traditions within a culture. The indigenous learning theory reports that informal learning has equal or greater value to formal learning (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, para. p. 42).

My interpretation of indigenous learning includes the view that knowledge is shared as one learns through narratives, storytelling, rituals, and modelling. It is about passing on wisdom to help empower an adult learner in the many different facets of their daily life. It is based on wholeness as a community and/or family as Ntseane (2007) noted, “Learning in Botswana…incorporates family, community, and the spirits of one’s ancestors” (p. 42). When cultural values merge with critical thinking the result is problem solving and decision making.

Each adult learner brings their personal cultural context into the learning environment. It is the responsibility of the educator to know their students, backgrounds, culture, and values in order to successful teach. According to Santor, Reid, Crawford, & Simpson (2011), “Really knowing students means knowing what knowledge they bring to the classroom and how their cultural practices, values and beliefs shape them as learners and, as producers of knowledge” (p. 67).

The chosen concept applies to my experience of listening and telling stories. I personally have no family (except my four kids with paws, cats). My close “family” are my friends, yet my larger “family” is being part of the LGBTIQQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual. transgender, queer and questioning) community. Each individual who is “family” has their stories to tell, the good, bad, and indifferent. When we listen, we learn and hopefully connect to the narrative and take that new knowledge to use for future occurrences in our lives. In my opinion, this is the beginning of social change for the positive as we learn to become more humanistic and compassionate through oral presentation.

How can we confirm that indigenous learning is beneficial? Take a minute and think back to your parent, grandparent or other elders and the stories they told about how they grew up? Do you recall details? Then you have learned about a piece of history which stayed in your memory.


Kasworm, C., Rose, A. and Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

Santor, N., Reid, J.A., Crawford, L. & Simpson, L. (2011). Teaching indigenous children: Listening to and learning from indigenous teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(10), 65-76. Retrieved from,

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