The transmission of knowledge : perspectives on the change from traditional to modern settings in Papua New Guinea
Renich, Bruce I.
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This study examined the ways that adult learners in Papua New Guinea viewed their traditional learning experiences and how these experiences have been used to develop a vision of a model of learning. Traditional ways of learning, including both informal learning and formal initiation learning, had not been explored as they related to the perceptions of the learner influenced by Western ways of learning. The purpose then was to examine the movement in understanding from how traditional education and learning took place to the practice of modern Western education and learning in Papua New Guinea in order to determine what was perceived to be the ideal way to learn and educate. Three questions were the basis for this research: “How do adult men from Papua New Guinea perceive their lifetime learning experiences?,” “In what ways do adult men from Papua New Guinea feel that their childhood and adolescent educational experiences have shaped their current lives as adults?,” and “How would adult men who are teachers from Papua New Guinea describe both their current teaching practice and their mental picture of what an ideal learning environment would look like?” To answer these questions a qualitative research method was used and the data analyzed through constant comparison. The data came from a series of interviews, several ethnographies from the general cultural context in which these interview informants lived, and personal observations from living and working in Papua New Guinea for twenty-two years. The findings suggest that a preferred learning environment model suitable to this context would include seven characteristics, namely, 1) working together and 2) gaining experience through activity learning as primary purposes for learning, 3) immediate application as the context in which learning takes place, 4) dialogue and questions as well as 5) demonstration as the most important instructional methods, 6) mentoring together with relationship building as the chief quality of an instructor, and 7) mental and emotional toughness as a necessary character quality of the learner.