The seventh principles that should be known by teachers in teaching is IFA (see the previous principle here)Learning with the mind, emotions, and muscles and giving attention to the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor aspects of adult learning is a vital principle that is often neglected. When the formalities of teaching and learning in the classroom and university take over without reflection, adult learners can be faced with a mass of cognitive matter: information, data, and facts that may seem impossible to comprehend or learn. When I took my first computer course, I had the personal experience of being deluged with facts about the history and emerging complexity of computers. I simply wanted to know how to use one. The mass of information frightened me away and I became another statistic: another adult learner who began a course and then dropped out.
Using the principle that there are three aspects of learning: ideas (cognitive), feelings (affective), and actions (psychomotor), we can prevent that initial fear at the outset of a new adult learning event. We know that learning involves more than cognitive material (ideas and concepts). It involves feeling something about the concepts (emotions) and doing something (actions). Whether I am learning the concept of stakeholders in strategic planning, or the skill of playing the piano, or the attitude of confidence when addressing an audience, I need to consider all three aspects of learning: cognitive, affective, psychomotor.
The concept of preparing an agenda for a meeting, for example, certainly has affective overtones for someone learning how to have an effective meeting. Who is deciding the agenda? As soon as we consider the political implications of making an agenda and preparing a meeting, we can then practice doing it consciously. The more frequently I actually design an agenda, the more fully I grasp the concept. In this example, to learn the idea I have used a cognitive approach (defining an agenda), a psychomotor approach (designing it), and an affective approach (considering the implications of the power of the one who prepares the meeting). Kurt Lewin taught that little substantive learning takes place without involving something of all three aspects (Johnson and Johnson, 1991). Zohar shows the human self as mental, emotional, and spiritual and demonstrates how a holistic view of the world invites us constantly to consciously address all levels (1997, p. 10). Real change requires a fundamental shift at each of the three levels. This can be accomplished by designing learning tasks that have cognitive, affective, and psychomotor components (Vella, 2000).The formal approaches to learning often assume that the cognitive aspect is everything. Joseph Campbell has a startling insight: “The brain thinks it is running the show. It isn’t really. It is a peripheral organ, secondary at best!” (Campbell, 1988, p. 142). In the Zambian example (Chapter Ten), church leaders who have struggled long and hard with the concept of equality, and who preach it, got a unique chance to feel it and do something with it. The results, to say the least, are interesting. Note the power relations addressed in that vivid experience of doing what they were learning. The design challenge in that chapter invites you to study your own educational projects in terms of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor possibilities (ideas, feelings, and actions) that address the whole person, not as a machine but as a developing man or woman, with incredible potential.