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Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults

ISBN: 978-1-118-01700-5
304 pages
March 2013, Jossey-Bass
Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults (1118017005) cover image


Praise for Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults

"Stephen Brookfield has used his gifts for clear thinking and lucid writing to produce this theoretically informed, immensely practical book on how the dynamics of power and adult teaching intersect. It should be required reading for everyone who teaches adults." ??—Ronald M. Cervero, professor and associate dean, College of Education, University of Georgia

"In one of his most personal, emotionally candid, and accessible books yet, Stephen Brookfield shares his passionate and indispensable commitment to empowering the learner both inside and outside the formal classroom, offering a trove of exercises, stories, and practical teaching tips to confront the hidden curriculum of power head on. For any teacher, coach, supervisor, or mentor who cares deeply about adult learning, here's a true gem from one of our great contemporary adult educators." —Laurent A. Parks Daloz, senior fellow, The Whidbey Institute

"This book is not about increasing your power as a teacher — it is about the dynamics of power in the adult classroom, challenging power structures, and the techniques teachers can use to empower learners. Brookfield's uses the lens of 'power' to distill, for the practitioner, ??a lifetime's work of scholarly and practical engagement with adult teaching and learning.' —Mark Tennant, emeritus professor, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

"Brookfield writes in a nice easy-to-read autobiographical style. He explains and fully discusses many good techniques for teaching in an effective and humane manner. Everybody who teaches, whether they teach children or adults, will benefit from reading this interesting book and learning from his lifetime of experience as a teacher."

—Peter Jarvis, emeritus professor of continuing education, University of Surrey

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xvii

About the Author xix

1. The Essence of Powerful Teaching 1

2. Teaching for Critical Thinking 35

3. Using Discussion Methods 63

4. Fostering Self-Directed Learning 89

5. Democratizing the Classroom 119

6. Teaching About Power 149

7. Teaching Using the Creative Arts 185

8. Negotiating the Emotions of Powerful Teaching 217

References 245

Index 265

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Author Information

Stephen D. Brookfield is Distinguished University Professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For forty years he has taught in England, Canada, Australia, and the United States. A six-time winner of the Cyril O. Houle Award for Outstanding Literature in Adult Education, he is the author of numerous books on teaching including Teaching for Critical Thinking, The Skillful Teacher, and Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning, all from Jossey-Bass.

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Press Release

February 12, 2013
Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults

Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults

By Stephen D Brookfield 

San Francisco, CA – The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 92 million adults or 46% of the U.S. population have participated in some form of adult education.  Adult learners attend community colleges, enroll in schools of continuing or professional education, attend for-profit postsecondary institutions and enroll in adult education courses.  This increase of adult learners in the classroom can cause different challenges than student learners because adults don’t always embrace the authority of a teacher, and teachers can feel powerless with their noncompliance.

How can teachers ensure that power inequities that exist outside the classroom are not automatically reproduced within?  Also when is a teacher’s power used responsibly, and when is it abused.  These are some of the questions that author Stephen Brookfield explores in POWERFUL TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING ADULTS (March 2013, ISBN:  9781118017005, also available in e-book format), a practice resource that reviews some of the most helpful approaches and exercise that teachers use when working with adult learners.

Written in an accessible style, with numerous examples of practical applications scattered throughout the text, POWERFUL TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING ADULTS does not assume any prior experience with adult learning theory or adult educational history and philosophy.  Instead, it exemplifies some of the major challenges and problems involved in teaching adults; a conversation which draws on the author’s 40-year history of working with adult learners to describe how to understand and respond to these same challenges and problems.

Brookfield shows teachers how to democratize their classrooms and reveals why adults often resist teaching that encourages them to challenge dominant power and describes how teachers can set a tone to help students push back against ideological manipulation.  Additionally, the book provides:

  • Exercises to help adults to think critically
  • Activities to promote adult self-directed learning
  • Ways to create more democratic adult classrooms
  • Techniques to teach adults about power
  • Empowering adults using the creative arts

“I’ll always remember my first experience teaching adults and how they had no interest in listening to anything I had to say.  It was then that I realized the importance of understanding power and that when it comes to adults – power is always in the room.  Classroom power dynamics is a continually fascinating issue, and problems that came up for me in the ‘70s still challenge teachers today.  My hope is that when people read this book they’ll walk away feeling more empowered and better able to connect with the adult learners in their classroom,” said Brookfield.

POWERFUL TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING invites readers into the adult learning conversation and shows them how to explore the connections between emotion, intuition, and power.  It is the well-thumbed guide for adult educators who are seeking to teach powerfully and is sure to become a classic in the field. 

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