Adult Education Defined No More Clearly Than Home Education

5 10 2007

. . .and in the end, they both define “who” more than “what.”

And like home education (indeed most K-12 education), adult education needs are defined by socialization and changes are driven by competitive politics and world views, rather than by human development and academic learning needs of either the individual or our society — you know, the ones we like to tell ourselves we’re serving with our vast schooling conspiracy. 🙂

Finally, it seems we (teachers, parents, citizens, communities) seldom examine the resulting power of story, the spiritual meaning of what we’re working so hard to engineer through these crazy collective models of “education.”

Historical and Contemporary Explorations of the Social Change and Spiritual Directions of Adult Education
by Leona M English — 2005
TC Record (Columbia Teachers College online)

What exactly constitutes the field and practice of adult education is strongly contested. A definition given by Merriam and Brockett (1997) shows how broadly the field can be conceived and how difficult it is to be more precise in defining it: ‘‘activities intentionally designed for the purpose of bringing about learning among those whose age, social roles, or self-perception define them as adults’’ (p. 8).

Even though adult educators can basically agree on a vague definition such as this, it is clear that the authors’ emphasis is on *who* constitutes an adult. The more interesting and provocative question for academics and practitioners alike is: For what purposes are we educating this adult? Read the rest of this entry »