Understanding Adult Educators Perceptions on Relevance of Adult Education to Community Development

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We're going to explain what it is, where it came from and its fundamental tenets. Typically, andragogy means the understanding of the science and practice of adult learning. This contrasts to pedagogy, which is the understanding of the science and practice of children learning. This is what Blake Seufert writes of andragogy :. Typically the learning is very self directed [e. Often the learner doesn't have the foundation to build upon and will need to learn other dependant skills and assess gaps in knowledge.

The term "andragogy" was first coined all the way back in by a German teacher named Alexander Knapp in an effort to categorize and describe Plato's theory of education. However, the term is most closely associated with Malcolm Knowles , an educator who had a massive impact on the adult-learning field. As Mark K. Smith notes :. He wrote the first major accounts of informal adult education and the history of adult education in the United States. Furthermore, Malcolm Knowles' attempts to develop a distinctive conceptual basis for adult education and learning via the notion of andragogy became very widely discussed and used.

He also wrote popular works on self-direction and on groupwork with his wife Hulda. His work was a significant factor in reorienting adult educators from 'educating people' to 'helping them learn'. Knowles was convinced that adult learning had to be self-driven. Rather than having education be teacher-centric, adult learning should be centered around the students and teach them the power of self-motivated learning.

Knowles himself said :. This fact makes the task of every leader of adult groups real, specific, and clear: Every adult group, of whatever nature, must become a laboratory of democracy, a place where people may have the experience of learning to live cooperatively. Attitudes and opinions are formed primarily in the study groups, work groups, and play groups with which adults affiliate voluntarily.

The Six Adult Learning Principles

Knowles initially identified four key pillars of understanding adult learners, then added a fifth later. Those pillars are :. As a person matures from a child to an adult, their self-concept also matures.

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They move from being dependent on others to being self-driven and independent. In other words, maturity leads to growing independence and autonomy. Whereas children are fully dependent on others for learning and understanding, adults learn and understand independently. In addition to a maturing self-confidence, adults build an increasing reservoir of experience. This increasing experience becomes a deepening resource for their learning. Children, on the other hand, have very little experience and must rely on the experience of others to learn.

In other words, as children mature into adults and gain more experience, certain things become intuitive. Their experience allows them to intuit things that they never would have understood previously. As an adult moves into various social roles employee, parent, spouse, citizen, etc. Consider how this plays out in life. As an adult moves into the workforce, they must orient their learning toward the skills necessary for their job. As they become a parent, they suddenly must learn all that's involved in taking care of children. New roles require new knowledge. When a person is young, their application of a subject is postponed and their orientation is subject-centered.

For example, when someone takes algebra in 9th grade, they don't normally apply it immediately to real life problems. They must wait until they're older and encounter a need for algebra. As a person matures, their application of learning becomes immediate and more problem-centered. Adults encounter problems, learn how to solve those problems, and then immediately apply their knowledge to those problems. I suspect what we need is something much more fuzzy and less linear than this — a model which allows for zig-zagging movements, and for interaction and accumulation see Smith ch.

Second, the theories that Cross draws on are culturally-bound. The way we understand ourselves is bound up with the culture of which we are a part. To members of sociocentric organic cultures the concept of the autonomous individual, free to choose and mind his own business, must feel alien, a bizarre idea cutting the self off from the interdependent whole, dooming it to a life of isolation and loneliness. Schweder and Bourne Other assumptions too need testing for their cultural specificity — after all just about all the writers Cross draws upon are writing within, and using data from, the North American context.

There are other questions — how does this model work in relation to self-directed learning projects, for example? How it might apply to education around literacies? Courtney, S. Reviews the North American literature on adult participation in education in order to build a theory of participation.

Operates from a sociological rather than psychological basis — which is welcome in the context of the literature. Cross, K. Increasing participation and facilitating learning edn. Has chapters on the growth of the learning society; issues in recruiting adult learners; who participates in adult learning; why adults participate and why not ; towards a model of adult motivation for learning; implications for increasing participation; patterns of adult learning and development; how adults learn and want to learn; facilitating learning.

McGivney, V. Barriers to access, informal starting points and progression routes , Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Focus on the characteristics of successful threshold provision. Examines barriers to participation and implications for targeting and curriculum approaches. Provides examples of practice. Preece, J. Sargant, N. A study of adult participation in learning and its policy implications , Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

A major study which provides useful data on participation in both informal and formal education. Participation in education and training by adults from ethnic minorities , Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Follow-up study to Sargant that highlights significant differences in participation and the role of educational aspirations, cultural backgrounds, and occupation environments in decisions to participate in, and access to, adult education.

Report of a study undertaken in early and thus providing a much needed picture of adult education participation following changes in funding and the move towards vocationalism and accreditation. It is difficult to compare these findings with earlier surveys as there have been changes in the questions used which was especially important in the area of informal learning. The survey confirms the continuing impact of social class; age; gender; location and previous educational experience.

The survey also deals with issues around advice, travel, finance, personal circumstances, use of leisure time, and participation in arts and crafts. West, L. A biographical analysis , London: Taylor and Francis. Exploration of the relationship between motives, educational participation, biographies and present situations based on work with a number of adult students in access and foundation programmes.

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Also draws on the psychoanalytical tradition in some interesting ways. Banks, M. Barton, D. Barton and R. Ivanic eds. Writing in the Community , Newbury Park: Sage. Boshier, R. Brockett, R. Perspectives on theory, research and practice , London: Routledge. Brookfield, S. A comprehensive analysis of principles and effective practices , Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Calder, J. Overcoming barriers for adult learners, London: Falmer Press. Merriam and P. Cunningham eds. Towards a theory of participation in adult education , London: Routledge. Cross-Durrant, A. Jarvis ed.

Darkenwald, G. Foundations of practice , New York: Harper and Row. Dewey, J. A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process rev edn. Geertz, C. Further essays in interpretive anthropology , New York: Basic Books. Now also available in Fontana Paperbacks. Gooderham, P. Graham-Brown, S. Conflict and crisis , London: Longman. King, K. The role of donor agencies in educational analysis, Harlow: Longman.

Lewin, K. The Mexican "recruitment" model operates in the framework of a corporatist state and a nationalist ideology derived from the post-revolutionary regimes, especially after the creation of the Partido Nacional Revolucionario PNR , later renamed as PRI Partido Revolucionario Institucional. Corporatism refers to a process of structuring interest representation through a particular set of policies and institutional arrangements which a emphasise co-operation rather than competition at the leadership level and b uses social control through carefully articulated mobilisation of the masses.


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In Mexico, in the context of an "inclusionary corporatist" form of state, a recruitment model operates in adult education. Inclusionary corporatism refers to a state which aims to incorporate salient working class groups and marginal forms of labour into the economic and political model. The capacity of the State to recruit disenfranchised population becomes a centre-piece in the strategy of political control Torres, Unlike Tanzania, in Mexico this recruitment is not performed exclusively by the Party, but by a large set of governmental institutions and mass organisations.

In this model, education is understood as a service offered by the State, with the main function being guaranteeing the access of all the population to the basic culture of the Nation. Such a function is prescribed as a constitutional mandate. One of the characteristics of this model is that the pattern of incorporation of adults into the programme relies on government agencies rather than on the free initiative of the individual. In this model, the clientele is considered as a segment of the population which has been left behind as a result of socio-economic inequalities. Since the core of the discourse is to promote social equality, the notion of second chance and the construction of a massive system for adults are central traits.

Indeed, the main rationale is to offer a second opportunity to those who have failed in their first attempt. In order to engage the large numbers of adult educators that Mexico needs, the system relies on voluntarism and on recruitment strategies based on the fulfillment of external requirements i. The operation of a massive system and the emphasis in political legitimation imply that more emphasis is placed on the achievement of quantitative outcomes than the development of qualitative learning processes.

As a result of corporatism, the Mexican system is highly centralised, resembling a pyramidal structure. The contents are established by State agencies and have a compulsory character for the entire country. The rhetoric of social solidarity and the ideology of the revolution have permeated most of the official documents until recently[13] and were pervasive in the statements of Mexican teachers. For example, half of the teachers declared that they opted to join the programme so as "to help the people" and the notion of community development was widely mentioned as a rationale.

One of the purposes of the system seems to be the integration of a marginal population into the accepted norms of political concertation established by a corporatist regime. Teachers have low levels of schooling, and only a limited on-the-job training is provided by the institution. In this model, since contents are nationally defined, it is not possible to address the needs and interests of specific groups, distinguishing by province, region, ethnic group or occupational activity.

Participation in learning projects and programmes

This system relies more on teachers' motivation than on their qualifications, which may eventually result in a low-quality teaching. Moreover, even teachers' enthusiasm does not last for a long time. This situation is reflected in teachers' absenteeism and lack of punctuality, and in their high job turnover. Tanzania represents the other extreme of the spectrum. Here, the features of the Mexican model are developed in a much greater dimension, in the context of scarce resources available and a coercive state which does not tolerate open dissent.

The main goal of adult education is to stimulate higher production of export crops such as coffee or cotton, which constitutes a major source of foreign currency for the country. In fact, the rationale of policy-makers is that adult education must encourage cash crop production and disincentive production for self-consumption. In their view, adult education programmes should incorporate marginal groups into the market economy and, at the same time, increase government's revenues.

Moreover, the government claims that a more productive peasantry will be more reluctant to migrate. The rationality of learners on why to participate in adult education programmes is exactly the opposite: they think that a. These differences in the agendas of policy-makers and learners result in a heavy top-down model. Participation in the programmes has not been on a volunteer basis or spontaneous; on the contrary, the state and the party make great efforts to attract people to the programmes.

Consequently, the pressure for the establishment of these programmes came from the state rather than from the people. For these reasons this model has been labelled "forced modernisation". Tanzanian adult education policy-makers are part of the country's elite, with a high commitment to the Party, a nationalist feeling and a sincere belief that the programmes produce real benefits for the masses. In dealing with learners, as in the other two cases, Tanzanian policy-makers display a paternalistic attitude. They lack self-criticism: it never crossed their minds that the programmes might have little benefit for the people.

Autres titres intéressants

As in Mexico, adult basic education teachers are poorly educated and remunerated, while skill-upgrading teachers enjoy a much higher status. Although policy-makers and teachers emphasise that the programme increases the practice of better farming techniques in modern agriculture and leads to raising of political consciousness, only a few students will agree with that.

For adult basic education AU students the main benefit of the programme is social prestige and cultural development, while for skill upgrading SU students it is mainly job opportunity. In AU programmes, a gap between government discourse and resource allocation may be observed. Although the government theoretically assigns a great importance to literacy, very few resources are allocated to it.

Classes are held in primary school buildings, party offices and other public buildings. There is no training in adult education matters. Classes are taught by primary school teachers, who are coerced to teach adults as part of their workload, or by volunteers who erroneously perceive it as a way of getting selected for teachers' college admission.

Resources are not efficiently used and often wasted, and as a result both teachers and students are reluctant to attend. Teachers are not selected by taking into account their interest, experience or qualifications. The Tanzanian case shows, perhaps more obviously than the other two cases, the danger of top-down programmes. It is also ironic that it occurs in a system in which the Party claims to be close to the people, acting on behalf of the people.

It is claimed that the Tanzanian government has built a facade of well-running adult education programmes in order to continue receiving foreign aid from donors, especially from Scandinavian countries Sumra, Main Differences by Programme. The research studied two different programmes: academic upgrading programmes which includes literacy training and adult basic education, and occasionally English as a Second Language ESL , and skill upgrading programmes job training. Both types of programmes proved to be very different not only in the characteristics of teachers and students, but also in the nature, purpose, orientation, and outcomes.

According to institutional documents, the rationale of academic upgrading programmes is to guarantee the provision of universal education to the entire population. The State thus assumes a remedial approach to compensate the shortcomings of the regular system, and the notion of "equality of opportunity" becomes a central concept in these programmes.

The explicit goals of AUP are to offer a "second chance" to re-enter into the educational system, to increase the cultural traits of adults, to give them opportunities for self-improvement, to create more educated citizens and to promote empowerment. However, usually there is a hidden agenda aiming at the incorporation of a disenfranchised population into the mainstream culture, or to support a particular social project underscored by the State.

This occurs in the three countries, but it is particularly evident in the cases of Mexico and Tanzania. In both countries, AU teachers work on a volunteer basis or are subject to coercion. These teachers are often unqualified, academically weak and poorly rewarded. This usually results in high turnover and absenteeism. Academic upgrading students have very diffuse and general expectations about their courses, while skill upgrading students are much more specific. In the three countries, AUP cater to the lowest segments of the social stratification.

Skill upgrading programmes are market-oriented and are strongly shaped by a manpower orientation or "supply side" approach , which is concerned primarily with enabling individuals to participate in the labour force by "upgrading" the value of their labour. The emphasis, thus, is to create a skilled and disciplined manpower for industries and services, responding to the demands of the private sector. SUP teachers do not necessarily have a teaching credential; they are predominantly male and older than AU teachers, and they share an instrumental view of education, equating it with "training for a trade".

In the three countries, skill upgrading programmes have a relatively high terminal efficiency. A good proportion of graduates find jobs, move to higher employment positions and eventually have access to better incomes or occupations. However, according to students' own statements, it is not clear that job attainment is a result of the participation in the course. In Tanzania, ironically, while SUP are designed to retain peasants in the countryside, they produce the opposite effect, operating as a one-way ticket out of rural occupations.

Unlike SUP, which have specific guidelines over completing the programme, to finish AUP may take from 6 months to 3 years, according to the level of organisation and the commitment of the teacher. Participants in AUP are often coerced into attending. Table V shows the significant differences between programmes which were found in the three countries. In general terms, teachers working in skill upgrading programmes tended to stress a manpower approach, while academic upgrading teachers tended to emphasise a remedial approach, i.

It can be observed in Table V that cultural needs of the clientele and cultural benefits of the programme were perceived mostly by teachers who work in academic upgrading programmes and in rural areas, while economic benefits tended to be reported more frequently by skill upgrading and urban teachers. This could be related both to the nature and goals of the two programmes, on the one hand, and to a labour market structure which allows more employment opportunities in the cities, on the other.

Talcing into account the teachers' answers and collected information about the main features of the two programmes, it seems that in both countries a "two-track system" operates within public adult education. In general terms, teachers foresee more possibilities of graduation and more future educational and occupational opportunities for students enrolled in skill upgrading programmes than for those studying in academic programmes. This is probably due to the fact that students in skill upgrading programmes have higher SES, cultural capital, educational and occupational expectations and political culture than students of academic upgrading.

This difference in perception could be also due to certain teachers' personal features, such as gender, age and specialisation. Indeed, in both countries teachers from skill upgrading programmes tend to be male, to have a non-educational background and to be older than academic upgrading teachers.

In the case of Mexico, even the social and academic profile of skill upgrading teachers is much higher than that of academic upgrading teachers. With neo-conservative politics the debate about adult education and the state hinges on the issue of efficacy rather than equality. This process includes an increasing scepticism on the ability of government to do public good, which in turn leads to the promotion of the free play of market forces and to the reduction of public spending.

It appears as though the relative loss of trust in Keynesian strategies to respond to the new needs of capital accumulation is having an impact in adult education systems, where a shift in rationale can be observed: the notion of "forgotten people" prevailing in the s and early s has been replaced by the tendency to "train the best and forget the rest" Calamai, In a "two-track" system of adult education, "the rest" are the disadvantaged adults enrolled in the lower grades of academic upgrading; they are mainly natives, women, illiterate and semi-literate elders and those living in rural areas.

If the "significance" of the adult education clientele is in general low, in these groups it is particularly low. The relative lower significance of these groups is aggravated by the fact that they have very little interest in participating in the decision-making process. Under these conditions, the only role of academic upgrading programmes seems to be political legitimation guided by the principle of equal opportunity.

In these programmes, the notion of second chance leads to the development of a compensatory education with linkages with the regular system. Equivalence with the regular system means that the emphasis is put on the acquisition of knowledge, which in most of the cases is mere information. Such information is considered "basic" not for its usefulness for an adult's life but for its correspondence with the children's basic curriculum. In synthesis, several differences and commonalities in adult educators' perceptions were established. Individual and social attributes gender, age, socio-economic status or SES, schooling were very relevant in several cases to explain differences and commonalities in perceptions.

Nevertheless, the key differences in teachers' perceptions resulted from distributions by country and by programme. They, in turn, are linked with State ideology, public policy and institutional setting, in the case of the former, and with area of specialisation, labour market and students' features, in the case of the latter.

Main Differences by Actors. In Canada, while policy-makers emphasise that the key goal of these programmes is to provide skills and knowledge that enable adults to have a more functional participation in society, and especially in the labour market, teachers overwhelmingly state that the programmes are supposed to promote the self-esteem and the cultural development of adult learners.

In Tanzania, it is possible to observe an ironic situation. Policy-makers and teachers argue that the programmes are designed to stop the rural-urban migration, while a basic analysis of students' statements suggests that they do exactly the opposite. In fact, according to teachers and policy-makers, one of the main goals of adult education is to allow adults to acquire a modem agricultural skills that will enable them to increase agricultural production and remain in their villages.

However, when students were asked about their reasons for enrolling into the programmes, the highest frequency In summary, for the adults the main reason for joining the adult education classes was to achieve exactly what policy-makers and teachers expect to prevent, that is, to seek employment in urban areas. A second contradiction is that both teachers and policy-makers stated that after the Party had made a rule that no one can stand for any political position if he or she was an illiterate, many adults joined literacy classes in order to qualify as a candidate for Party positions.

However, out of the sample of students, only one mentioned political mobility as the main reason for joining the programme. A third contradiction found in the Tanzanian case, especially in the Folk Development Colleges FDC , is the lack of coherence between new policies established by policy-makers and the curriculum that teachers are using. Although no official document indicates it, policy-makers insisted that the FDCs were always directed to those who had finished literacy training.

However, it seems that this was not the case before, since teachers mentioned the shift in the clientele, from semi-literate adults to a younger population who have completed primary education. The curriculum, which is oriented towards adults who have families and live in the villages, has not much relevance for these youngsters who do not want to go back to the villages. In order to explain this lack of congruence among these two actors, they posed four hypotheses. The first explanation is that the clientele of adult education has changed, but the instructors are still operating on a set of assumptions that are not valid anymore.

Such a hypothesis is consistent with some of the findings of this study which suggest that teachers do not realise that current students have different characteristics from former ones. As one of the interviewed stated:.


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  • Many of our staff, we haven't had much turnover, they remember a kind of student who is no longer here or is a much smaller percentage of our student body and I'm not sure if we've adapted our programming as much as we should have to that change in clientele. Their second explanation is rooted in a shift in the prevailing ideology of the times, from the world view of the s and s which emphasised societal reform to the current neo-conservative ideology which stresses the importance of self-direction and control over circumstances.

    According to the authors, students may have changed their attitudes more quickly than teachers think, and therefore the latter fail in interpreting the actual values of the former. A third possibility suggested by the authors is that instructors tend to generalise based upon their experience with most extreme and difficult cases.

    The last hypothesis is that most sponsors approach adult education in terms of narrowly defined training objectives rather than from any analysis of stated needs reported by adults themselves.

    Canadian Adult Education Theses by Author - S

    London et al. Beyond the possible reasons of the discrepancies, what is important is that these differences may affect the manner in which the institution deals with its clientele from its intake procedures through the planning and delivery of instruction. It seems that the andragogic principle which states that adults have more necessity and capacity for self-direction non-directive learning than non-adults is not yet widely accepted among teachers Fahy, , pp. Table VI summarises the main differences between teachers' and students' perceptions on the programme and on the students themselves.

    The first eight aspects are related to students' characteristics. The column on the left presents what teachers attribute to students, while the column on the right shows students' own perceptions on the same issues. The remaining aspects correspond to the contrast of opinions in relation to the programme, its benefits and decision-making. First of all, this comparison indicates that teachers--with the exception only of the opinion on students' participation in decision-making--tend to perceive students from a paternalistic perspective. However, it is important to note that in Mexico this tendency is much less pronounced than in Alberta.

    It is possible that the smaller social distance between teachers and students in Mexico is the main factor in explaining the greater amount of similarities among them in comparison with teachers and students in Alberta. This hypothesis is reinforced by Albertan teachers when they stated that non-professional and native teachers have better rapport with their students. Second, the Table suggests that teachers are more critical with respect to the programme's content and benefits than the students.

    Finally, it implies that an evaluation of the resources channelised towards written advertisement should be done. Despite these differences, there were also coincidences. Interestingly enough, an important agreement between teachers and students took place in relation to further education. Communication Flow: relationship among the three actors. In Canada, teachers are proud of enjoying a relative autonomy regarding the control of policy-makers PM. Although they complain about the lack of didactic materials for adults and they argue that PM do not know what goes on in the classroom, teachers find this autonomy valuable, especially in rural settings.

    Many of them, in fact, declared that they left the regular school system because of the extreme control imposed upon them.



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