Learning to Teach Adults: An Introduction

Author(s) Corder, Nicholas
Publisher Routledge Falmer
Published 2002
Pages 162
ISBN 0415276381
Reviewed by Lesley C Booth
University of York
Review published 1 December 2004

'Learning to Teach Adults' has been specified as an introductory guide, suitable for those making a first foray into the world of adult education. Written in a style that is easily accessible and colloquial, this book aims to give sensible advice on how to teach and train adults irrespective of the subject area that is being taught. However, the lightweight nature of the treatment of the topic may not be to everyone's liking, particularly as the author's opinion is much in evidence, rather than academic rigour.

The book is divided into 10 chapters:

  • Adults as learners
  • What is learning?
  • Learning in groups
  • Teaching and learning methods
  • Resources for teaching and learning
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Planning
  • A professional approach
  • The first sessions and some traps to avoid
  • Over to you

The sessions aim to offer tips, helpful hints and practical basics, though many teachers new to adult education may struggle with the skimmed treatment, particularly the first chapter 'Adults as learners'. This is a complicated area as many adults return to learning for numerous reasons and motivations.

Readers will also need to be wary of the way in which the wide-ranging issues are presented, and may even grimace at some of the advice offered (for example under the chapter, 'Lack of Enthusiasm'):

'The subject I am about to teach you is so boring that I am bored and you will be too. Have I mentioned how boring it is? 'Cos it's very boring.'

Frankly what on earth are you doing in a classroom if you're not enthusiastic?

In summary, it is obvious that the author has worked in adult education for many years, and the trials and tribulations (and successes) of all those years of hard work are evident in this book. He has endeavoured to make this field accessible to anyone wishing to teach adults, and he certainly writes with 'passion and humour', even if his writing style is at times rudimentary. This book is best dipped into alongside other guides such as 'Adults Learning' by Jenny Rogers (OU Press), 2001.