In the year of 2018, month of January, I had the privilege to start a journey of learning a new language to be able to share the good news from the Bible to foreigners living in the Philippines. It is now 2019 and I still feel very thankful to Jehovah God for giving me a chance to be able to join a family of adult learners- a family of individuals that unite despite difference circumstances and backgrounds.
Both in the learning environment of University of the Philippines Open University and in this foreign language learning family, I have been able to appreciate what an adult learner really is. In these learning environment wherein age differences are common, I have come to observe what dedication and perseverance really means despite having some personal responsibilities such as having secular work and caring for families.
In this blog post, I would like to combine lessons from Module 2 and Module 4 specifically on the concept of intelligence. For the first part of this blog post I would like to feature Raymond Bernard Cattell’s mention of the two types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Above is a visual graphic that describes the two types of intelligence: fluid and crystallized. Fluid intelligence is about abilities of memory span, spatial perception and adapatation to new situations whereas crystallized intelligence talks more about capacities of judgement, knowledge and experience. Cattell mentions that differences in aging is also related with levels of fluid and crystallized intelligence: the greater the age comes decline in fluid intelligence and increase in crystallized intelligence.
Relating this in our foreign language learning experience together with other adult learners comprising of ages 16-60, I have observed that younger learners in the ages 16 until 20+ are faster in activities relating to fluid intelligence such as memorizing Gurmukhi of the Punjabi language and also basic language phrases. What I have mentioned in this regard is that younger learners are FASTER in activities for fluid intelligence nevertheless the other adult learners with increasing ages of 30-60 are able to catch up in the preceding months on activities of fluid intelligence because they are able to combine this with their level of crystallized intelligence of experience. Compared to us younger learners who are good at taking in big chunks of information to memorize yet suffering the consequence of brain drain, what I appreciate with the older adult learners in our class is that they are able to apply crystallized intelligence in their learning by what considering concepts of reasonableness and being practical.
According to Schaie and Parr (1981) “different stages of life actually call for different learning abilities.” This means that the methods done by young learners to acquire knowledge should be adjusted on the part of adult learners as age increases because of the consideration of phases of life encountered. Long terms memory that requires fluid intelligence is indeed possible for adult learners on conditions such as when a material is learned well. This case is indeed true because one of my classmates in the foreign language learning class who is in her 50s shared that she is able to retain better what she studies from the lessons in our class when she studies during the night after finishing household chores and she is also able to study at times in the mornings especially when she takes opportunity of the home being quiet and no distraction because her husband is at work and her grandchildren are out in school. Another condition that can help adult learner increase memory span is when new information learned is integrated and related with previous knowledge.
Problems on the lack of motivation on the part of older adult learners springs when they feel like the information they acquire is complex, meaningless and fast paced. To be able to address these challenges, the teachers in our foreign language learning make sure to set aside time to bring us encouragement to continue in this challenging yet exciting learning experience. Last June 2018, days before graduating from our class, a letter was read to us containing 15 lessons and the lessons listed are the following:
1. Strengthen your spirituality so as not to weaken in foreign language field!
I really appreciate this first lesson because it traces back to not neglect what matters the most which is spirituality containing moral values and practical wisdom for life which is more important than what books in secular education can offer.
2. Read Punjabi everyday for 15-30 minutes
The constant yet shorter time for learning, the lesser the chances of percentages of brain drain! 🙂
3. Recall Bible principles
4. Add vocabulary words
5. Be involved in activities
6. Participate in meetings
7. Answer even in simple Punjabi sentences
8. Think about how you have already progressed
9. Build friendships
10. Learn the culture
11. Stay focused in sharing the good news
12. Keep your motives pure- never forget that your motive for learning a new language is love for Jehovah God and love for the people
13. Do not take yourself too seriously, have a sense of humor and laugh at your mistakes
14. Be patient with yourself and with others
15. Always be conscious of your spiritual needs- read the Bible both in your mother language and foreign language.
In this letter, what I appreciated is the blend of fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence as it values concepts such patience for slow growth, right motivation, humor, friendships and association, participation and involvement. At the end of the letter, I also remembered that our teacher mentioned that TEAMWORK is important because with close association in the class comes opportunities to share what has been learned.
Going back to the times when I was in a learning environment where pedagogy prevailed, all I thought was that fluid intelligence is the most important considering that honors are determined with scores of IQ tests and perfecting quizzes about memorizing factual information from books. In my almost 4 years of being in learning environment where andragogy is the main principle that is featured in activities to be able to cater to the needs of my adult learner classmates, I have come to appreciate crystallized intelligence even more without compromising the importance of fluid intelligence.
In learning how to appreciate crystallized intelligence, I have been able to observe from my fellow adult learners in the foreign language learning class that finishing the education in here is more than gaining a medal, or even just passing grades for the sake getting out of school and be able to enjoy vacation but it stems from a deeper motivation. I really appreciate how my fellow adult learners sacrificed a lot of things to finish this class. Despite a lot of pressures of family responsibilities, what motivates my fellow learners to finish the class and even continue to progress in learning the foreign language is love for Jehovah God and love for people which moved them to put forth the effort in this volunteering service to share good news and practical moral values from the Bible to foreigners in the community.
Success in adult education indeed means creating a special value on how fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence blend in with each other. I hope that this lesson is not only applied in adult education but also in other types of education such as traditional classroom education. If this happens, I can’t help but imagine just how much of the students will be even more encouraged to embrace the real essence of learning- learning that can help them change into better individuals in life.
Image about Cattell’s two type of intelligences derived from: https://www.verywellmind.com/fluid-intelligence-vs-crystallized-intelligence-2795004
Cross, P.K. (1981). Patterns of adult learning and development. In Adults as learners: Increasing participation and facilitating learning, Chapter 7, pp. 161-164. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.