2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of an individual or social perspective on adult learning? Is one more relevant than another in certain contexts? In many respects, the strengths and weaknesses of both individual and social perspectives are primarily functions of overemphasis to the exclusion of other considerations that are equally relevant to the effectiveness and appropriateness of adult learning. Quite obviously, an overly narrow focus on the individual perspective neglects other equally relevant factors including, but hardly limited to, social perspective.
However, excessive focus on the individual perspective, as pointed out in the article, also represents potential misinterpretation of the degree to which individual factor are responsible for the optimal learning environment and method with respect to certain individuals. As illustrated in the article, individuals who seem to fit the “mold” of those who are anticipated to require a learning approach dictated by individual considerations may respond to entirely different learning methods including social methods. Likewise, individuals who would seem to fit the “mold” of those who are anticipated to require a learning approach dictated by social considerations may respond to entirely different methods including individual methods.
Instead of pitting the two approaches in perspective against each other as though either is, generally, a more effective educational perspective, the optimal approach to learning, (whether adult learning or learning in all age groups), is probably to incorporate elements of both within education in a manner that allows for tailoring specific courses of study to individual requirements.
In that sense, it makes very little difference whether one perspective or the other is most conducive to learning; it only matters that the optimal approach is available for as many students as possible. For example, certain learners (of any age) underachieve relative to their assumed abilities by virtue of their greater ability to learn from doing, or from learning in an interactive environment instead of within the traditional educational environment emphasizing lecture-based passive learning. Others learners simply absorb information better when it is presented through visual media (such as television or computer screen) than from textbooks. Regardless of level of education, genuine learning would likely increase in proportion to the success of efforts designed to identify the optimal learning perspective for different individuals in order to provide educational programs that are most conducive to learning in as many cases as possible..