Is Adult education broken

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Is free online courses dumbing down adult education?

article by Diane Shawe M.Ed

Adult education has become under-valued in an overpriced educational infrastructure.

The people who need the most help are already systematically ripped off by greedy loan companies, NHS parking, having to pay charges for drawing out their own money from private ATM machines in poorer boroughs, pre-paid electric meter’s to name but a few.  The more you seem to need help the more you seem to have to pay.

Off course the arguments are always about risk, but to compound on top of their needs, a premium, just to make sure the risk is compensated for is questionable indeed.

But another kind of ripping off is taking place. ‘Free online education’ you may ask ‘why is this a rip off?’

I will answer this from my prospective initially and then make further arguments as to why we should be very concerned about this unpoliced, unchallenged butchery of the values originally infused into our adult educational system.

As Isaac Asimov—a master of science fiction literature—once said:

“No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

What has happened?  Why have these large institutions priced education out of some fundamental principles?

How can we make the new economic age enhance, rather than diminish, our quality of learning? How can we make this amazing innovation advance the prospects of all people especially those with experience and not just youth?

It is clear that at this moment most educational systems are not keeping pace with changing technology and the ever-evolving world of work.

Not enough people are thinking strategically enough in this area.  Fundamentally, we need to innovate what people learn, how people learn, when people learn, and even why people learn.

We must get beyond the traditional model of students sitting passively in classrooms, following instructions and memorising material that they are tested and scored on which sometimes turn out to be of little use in an ever changing economy. It is evident that computers can do that for us!

What should a 21st Pedagogy for Adult Education Look Like?

A 21st century educational system must focus on the areas where humans can outclass computers—such as in cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, fine motor skills, or sophisticated coding skills.

We need to make sure that the type of education can keep a population in work or self-employment, performing meaningful tasks relevant to todays and tomorrow needs within a community.

I believe that education has to become student centric and move away from solely institutional constructs that are not fluid to change.

There has always been a great deal of lip service given to the idea of learning by doing, but not much has been done about it. In fact, John Dewey remarked in 1916, in his book, Democracy and Education:  

“Why is it that, in spite of the fact that teaching by pouring in, learning by passive absorption, are universally condemned, that they are still so entrenched in practice? That education is not an affair of “telling” and being told, but an active constructive process, is a principle almost as generally violated in practice as conceded in theory”


I think it is imperative that this century focuses on Adult Transformative Learning because, if we don’t, we are already seeing the internet unintenionally affect the minds of some of our  impressional adults who have no sence of usefulness within our society and can be easily motivated in learned stimulative blended information that could be perceived as devisive withing many communities.

“Transformative learning is a structured way forward in time of crisis when Individuals face Collective Challenges”

                                                 Diane Shawe M.Ed.

During the last twenty years, the use of the word “crisis” seems to have increased around the world. Referring to sudden and intense political, economic, social, psychological, cultural or environmental changes, this term emerges now more frequently in everyday vocabulary.

According to transformative learning theory, the emergence of a crisis represents a potential opportunity for personal and/ or collective transformation, grounded in the capacity of individuals and groups to revisit the perspectives through which they interpret their own experience.

Considering recent history, how does the emergence of social, economic, political, cultural, intellectual or environmental crisis manifest an opportunity, or an expression, of transformative learning?

In the mean time I think that some of these fundlemental questions need to be addressed:

  • How does the experience of individual or collective crisis affect the way one learns to critically interpret one’s own experiences?
  • What are the learning resources required in order to overcome the experience of individual or collective crisis?
  • What kinds of learning opportunities facilitate the management of personal and collective transformations triggered by a crisis?
  • What are the emerging issues and how do they affect research on transformative learning?

How can we effectively deal with some of these burning question when we are constantly dumbing down Adult education?

If you would like a copy of  my full essay on this topic Click to fill in the form  to request a copy be sent to you.

 



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