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On learning anew – on adult learning

“What was the point of going to a National School, if you could not get grades to make it to the University? You just wasted your parents’ money.”

And so one of my friends almost sunk into depression. She grew up in a humble and loving family from Western Kenya. Those are the taunts she received at the village when her KCSE results came out.

“Kwambie I told myself that I was going to work so hard that no-one would ever know that I never made it to university in the first round. When we had a high school reunion my classmates would visit me in a classy home because you know Bomerians are classy.”

She asked her uncle who lived and worked in Nairobi to help her look for a simple messenger or clerical job in Nairobi. He did. For the first early months she was involved in mundane jobs as a messenger and filing documents in the back offices, she began saving money slowly by slowly. At this time she met a man, a graduate who loved her and married her in her early twenties they begun life and a family. Over time she was promoted and got a front office job. That meant more money. Some time later after nursing their young children her husband believed in her and urged her to join the university. She joined the University for her undergraduate degree going for evening classes, a few years after her high school classmates graduated.

One random evening, I bumped into her after two years at the University of Nairobi, heavily pregnant with her fourth child, “Kwambie I am doing my last units of my MBA and we decided to move to our own home instead of paying rent early this year. Where we have reached we can live in that house it is just finishings remaining.”

She was then promoted to manager status in the third organization from the first one that she worked for.

And yes, at this point in her career it does not matter that she did not make it to the university in the first selection. And who knows may be one of these days I may visit her in her classy home, because you know Bomerians are classy people.”

That is the power of Adult Learning. As an adult you can steer the direction and trajectory of your life with a positive attitude in Learning. Gaining new skills and gaining through diverse experiences no matter your circumstances or what age you are. Over the years, I have found myself on several occasions sharpening my saw as an Adult Learner. Indeed you are never too old to upskill yourself with new knowledge and experiences whether in formal or informal education.

When I went back to school as an adult, one thing I tried never ever to miss is the first lecture. In the first lecture, the lecturer would always share his/her expectations for the semester, his/her teaching style, the time table, long term assignments, the resources he/she planned to use and we the students would get a sneak preview into the different lecturer personalities. I reminisce my MBA experience at the University of Nairobi; Dr. Nyandemo would not tolerate lateness, Prof. Wainaina seemed like he would make class enjoyable with his anecdotes, more of practical examples over raw theory and on it went. When it comes to Adult Learning it is allowed to choose the best learning experience for yourself, it is after all your hard earned money and free time that you are exchanging for new skills and knowledge for many. To crown it all, I had a could never say “Thank You” enough to Prof. Kibera for his motivation and guidance when it came to working on my Masters’ final Project.

Have fun with your classmates. Where the University of Nairobi Towers now stands used to be a field where I would hang out with members of my study group on some Saturday afternoons, share life’s experiences even as we embarked on an assignment. Even as you enjoy the learning experience strive to make new friends and contacts in your Adult Learning experience.

Most adult learners are goal oriented, they have personal goals to achieve in life hence their decision to go back to school as mature students to enable them achieve them.

Most adult learners yearn for learning knowledge that is practical and relevant to their day to day life such as work, business and family over abstract theories and ideas.

Many adults have a wealth of experience and knowledge which they bring to the classroom in learning situations. Many adult students are balancing other roles in life.

Many are parents, caregivers to their elderly parents, are running a business or have a job.

Adult learners also enjoy learning situations that are collaborative with their instructors or teachers. Instead of being taught to; they yearn to seek knowledge to share with their instructors and classmates.

The reality is that some courses may be difficult for some adult/ mature learners due to physical limitations that put youthful classmates at an advantage. If for example the lecturer’s illustrations on the board or books are difficult to read compared to earlier years, it would be prudent to see your optician/opthamologist to ensure enjoyable learning.

Some things to consider as a potential Adult Learner; As an adult student/learner you have no one to please except yourself. Study what you are passionate about. When you are passionate about what you are studying, you naturally find yourself putting more time, energy and resources to the field of study.

Choose areas of study that are in tandem with your life goals and that will push you to the next level; career, professional and personal goals. Create a goal to achieve on the same. Is there something that you enjoyed in the past or that you really wanted to learn in years past? Now as an adult may be a good time to pursue it. Upskilling or learning a totally new discipline? Many adults embark on Adult Learning to open doors of opportunity in professional or business circles or even for self actualization purposes with the newly acquired knowledge. One can decide to either build up on the same discipline or professional line that is up skill or embark on a totally new discipline or professional line of learning.

Find out more on what you plan to study- what are the resources needed for you to successfully complete the program, what openings does it lead to and so forth? Be encouraged, millions of people have turned their life around by going back to school or even beginning school as adults. You are not alone.

“Wacha niKwambie”
May 2021 – Learning anew
Of adult learning/ masomo ya ngumbaru
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
© Kwambie Nyambane,
May 2021
Post Script blog, Kenya would like to congratulate all the KCSE and KCPE candidates 2020/2021 for the effort they put in their studies and in preparation for the milestone examinations. You can be whoever you wanna be, the world is your oyster!