Professionals in adult education do not stress often enough that education is a profession in which the educator's character plays a central role. How well and effectively will the knowledge be transferred and preserved depends on the educator's character and, only then, on the quantity and quality of knowledge. We do not ask ourselves often enough, nor discuss, who is a good educator and/or what makes a good educator. First, educators are all people engaged in teaching, either in the role of adult educators, teachers, mentors, tutors or professors. However, the excellence of knowledge and educator's character are of key significance in all education professions. This means that educators face an extremely challenging task; not only must they know their subject of teaching extremely well, but they must possess the ability to transfer the acquired knowledge to learners and/or the audience in an interesting and comprehensive manner. The task ahead is formidable and exceeds the scope of work or afternoon activities, since education is not a "hobby", but a serious profession, even when learners are adults.
Who is a good educator?
A good educator is dedicated to the subject of teaching, passionate and knows how to establish a connection with the audience, as well as how to approach and motivate the audience for learning subject content. Furthermore, a good educator is personally motivated to achieve results with learners, i.e. understanding of the subject taught. He strives for the subjects to be understood and actively discussed by all members of the audience and tries to constantly upgrade his knowledge and develop enthusiasm for the subject, while sharing the subject-related research, doubts and findings with learners. Last, but not least, a good educator dedicates adequate attention to students; he listens to, considers and takes their views into account. In order to be able to hear students, he must strengthen his humbleness and modesty both during teaching of subject and during the transfer of content. A good educator is well aware that the content can always be upgraded and that each learner can use their rich experience (which especially applies to adult learners) to upgrade or complement the subject.
Educator, a person with a character
The "right" educator is a person with charisma who stuns us with his presence, is a good speaker and is an excellent motivator for learning and deepening of the subject. The "right educator" knows what he teaches and enjoys teaching. He is aware that the priority of education is to transfer knowledge, which is confirmed by the learners' understanding and implementation. The educator lives his profession; he is a person of character and integrity, trustworthy and deserves respect. He constantly tries to establish and maintain a dialogue with learners, while promoting critical thinking and inviting learners to engage in and reflect on the subject. The educator, as a person of character, is personally mature and knows how to constructively face conflicts, which occur during the education process, while keeping in mind that in education there is no place for pride, since education is a two-way process during which the educator constantly learns from the learner and this is the only way to truly master his profession.
Education as a mission
It is in the nature of a good and successful educator to experience education as his mission, the essence of life. Consequently, he has a personal interest to teach to disseminate the subject, while striving for professional excellence and objective approach to subject content, and trying to take into account the subject aspects and learners' perspective. An educator with the mission also tries to achieve professional and personal excellence and sets and example, a case of good practice. The educator with the mission is a man who lives for others and invests his heart, mind and soul in his profession. Education, which includes adult educators is a work of love through which the subject content is brought to life and connects learners thereto. It is very important that adult learners are educated by a person who knows what he lectures and who is well-familiar with the subject field, has in-depth knowledge of the subject which he continuously deepens, and shares enthusiasm to share the acquired knowledge. When an educator experiences his work as a mission, he becomes a truly good educator, who inspires and permanently educates learners in the selected subject.
Self-reflection for good education
Every profession, including the profession of educators is a path, a development, which is upgraded, strengthened and improved through years. The key factors of growth are self-reflection, personal reflection and constant asking and answering of the following questions: "Who am I as an educator? What is my job, and what corresponds to the function of educator? How good am I, and what is my performance like? Where there is further room for improvement and what should I do to achieve excellence in my line of work? Why am I even doing my job, where do I find my meaning? How much is the excellence of my education activities linked to others, i.e. learners? How can I approach to students more, and how can I clearly and comprehensibly present subject content? What makes me a good educator? Are the values important for the implementation of the profession? Which are the key values in the education professions, and do I comply therewith?" Each person grows and develops through work or profession. Therefore, everyone must reflect on their own work, fulfil its personal goals therewith and live their profession in the true sense of the work, especially if this is a job for others, a job for and with people, since it is only with students' help that our work truly comes to life.
Kaja Kosec, Zavod Za dialog
Kaja Kosec is the director of the "Za dialog" Institute (Institute for Dialogue), dedicated to the training of individuals, groups and employees in dialogue, dialogue-related skills, and dialogue relationships. She completed a master's degree in theology, while her fields of teaching also include ethics and concrete business ethics. Through the ethics subject she focuses on the field of education and significance of good practice, an example/ideal through which serves as the basis for the entire education process and practice transfer through dialogue.