Transformative learning is one theory of learning, and particularly focuses on adult education and young adult learning. Transformative learning is sometimes called transformation learning, and focuses on the idea that learners can adjust their thinking based on new information. Jack Mezirow is known as the founder of transformative learning. Jack Mezirow began this theory of transformational learning when he did studies on adult women who went back to school. Mezirow's initial research led him to theorize that adults don’t apply their old understanding to new situations, instead they find they need to look at new perspectives in order to get a new understanding of things as they change. Mezirow theorized that students had important teaching and learning opportunities connected to their past experiences. Mezirow found that critical reflection and critical review could lead to a transformation of their understanding. Adult education and adult learning is key in this theory, as children often don't have the same kind of transformation with their learning experiences. Mezirow found that adult learning involves taking the very things we believed and thought as a child, and letting critical reflection and teaching impact the transformation to what we should believe and understand now. Mezirow's theory has developed into a larger idea that our world view is changed the more we learn, and that helps us grasp new concepts and ideas.
Current and aspiring educators can greatly benefit from understanding learning theories and learning models, and implementing strategies in their classrooms that help them appeal to more learners. Learn more about Mezirow's transformative learning theory and how you can apply it in your classroom, particularly for older students.