Paul Jay Edelson, Ph. D (State University of New York at Stony Brook), October 1998
Concepts and Trends in American Adult Education
Paper Presented at the German Institute for Adult Education
It is difficult, perhaps impossible to describe to you a phenomenon in American higher education which though present in just about every institution (approximately 3,500) assumes various forms and dimensions in each. This is both the strength and weakness of American adult education at the college/university level where it is also referred to as continuing higher education or CHE. In this talk, I will try to cover that uneven terrain, and also to a lesser extent that of adult education within other settings such as schools, corporations, and especially the proprietary sector. I will speak to you about values, ideals, and also realities. And in touching upon the past and present, I will of necessity speak about the future as well.
To begin with, as you know the USA has no unified national system of education. Although there is a federal regulatory presence which is very influential and also some funding for targeted programs and special initiatives, the administrative machinery is largely on the state level especially with respect to curriculum. In higher education, as you may know, we have three types of institutions. State, private, and an emerging third category, which is a subset of private, that of the proprietary college. Almost all operate within a system of voluntary regional accreditation.
The public institutions are very close to being state run, although within an intellectual framework of academic freedom and peer academic governance, which is also true for the private institutions. In recent decades the financial support of higher education by the states has diminished as more and more public institutions have become increasingly dependent on tuition revenue and their own fund-raising efforts. For example, the University of Delaware receives only 30% of its income from the state which is down considerably from earlier years. This is also true for other state institutions like my own, the State University of New York. As a consequence, there are pressures to regularly increase tuition. Many view this as an inexorable retreat from equality of opportunity even though their are stipends for students whose families qualify.
For private, non-profit, institutions the issue of tuition revenue and fund-raising is even more important. But these institutions have never labored under the political mandate to serve the public in the same way as state colleges and universities. Yet substantial federal grants and contracts support the most prestigious institutions in this category such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard.
The last category is the private proprietary college which exists, like the modern corporation, to make a profit for its shareholders. The University of Phoenix, of which some of you may have heard, is representative of this new breed of institution that is comparable to the phenomenon of for-profit HMO’s (health maintenance organizations) which have changed the way health care is delivered in the USA. American InterContinental University is another. Higher education now appears to be moving in the same direction as the for-profit sector takes aim at both the publics and privates, attempting to provide acceptable quality at much lower costs. The growth of the University of Phoenix, unknown several years ago, to now the largest private university in the country makes it a looming presence and, some think, harbinger of the future.
Self Improvement. The historical background for American adult and continuing higher education demonstrates several major themes. There is the larger contextual background of "self improvement" which I would call the Franklinian tradition, after Benjamin Franklin, printer, inventor, statesman, founder of the Junto, a voluntary association for self-improvement, and also the University of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, signer of the Declaration of Independence which he helped draft and so on. A distinguishing feature of America, noted by de Tocqueville, was the pervasive belief people held in their ability to rise through their own efforts. This is typified in the career of Franklin and the mythology surrounding it. In the same vein Lincoln and the log cabin and Thomas Alva Edison. Opportunity and the accessibility of knowledge went hand-in-hand in that one was responsible for acquiring the knowledge required for success. Gradually it became a responsibility of government to ensure an initial level playing field.
The cult of the individual and of individual responsibility, which ironically, though a force propelling adult education as "self help", has paradoxically stigmatized and undercut public support for second chance adult education. This is the very area most people, if asked to define adult education, would identify. This category includes remediation, literacy for "dropouts," programs for the unemployed, and other disadvantaged groups and "at risk" populations. Proponents of adult education have had to argue that these people are not morally flawed but instead constitute an extensive sometimes invisible cohort whom for various situational and dispositional reasons could not avail themselves of educational opportunity. This justification pivots on factors of gender, race, class, and, more recently, vagaries of the global economy, rather than on intelligence and character.
The advent of large scale white collar and professional unemployment in the past decade as a result of global production and marketing transformations has been an entirely new phenomenon in the post World War II industrialized west. The existence of this population of previously successful middle class, middle aged, and often middle management, group of dislocated college educated workers gave a new "professional" face to second chance adult education. The high level of success in getting this group back to work (80% in some programs) publicly justified the value of adult education for mainstream middle class populations who did not carry the baggage of discrimination or of being disadvantaged. A similar success had been previously achieved with programs targeted towards middle class women who were re-entering the labor market.
Adult education for the dislocated professional and for re-entry women has removed some of the tarnish from second chance adult education, so much so that we are in danger of the other extreme, that of too high expectations, as various welfare-to-work programs incorporating mandatory adult education are hatched. Unrealistic objectives for re-educating the hard-core unemployed may revive the explanation of personal and group failure, taking the burden off poorly conceived and/or delivered programs.
No discussion of self-improvement as a force in American adult education would be complete without mentioning the extension traditions of Oxford and Cambridge which in the 19th century offered another model, this time tied to university outreach, for liberal adult education and what eveolved into the "genteel tradition" for middle class gentlemen and women in continuing education.
Progressivism. The second major force influencing American adult education is the Progressive Education Movement, which according to Cremin extended from 1876, the year of the Philadelphia Centennial, to 1957, which some may recall as the year Sputnik was launched. The crucible of Progressive Education was the Progressive Movement in American politics which was also a late 19th century phenomenon that existed well into this century, transmogrified into democratic liberalism. The core of this philosophy was that government existed to help people through tackling and resolving social and economic problems. The social sciences, especially economics, political science, and sociology were viewed as modern analytical tools for determining what needed amelioration. And through education society could improve and renew itself. Progressivism in continuing education is rooted in this public service outreach mission of the university that saw the upward evolution of society through the broader distribution of educational services and opportunities.
The most visible manifestation of this connection for adult education, especially continuing higher education, was "The Wisconsin Idea" articulated by Charles Van Hise, President of The University of Wisconsin in his 1904 inaugural address The famous concept repeated hundreds if not thousands of times by continuing educators and other socially conscious educators and popularly paraphrased as "The borders of the State of Wisconsin are the borders of the University" presents an activist outreach interpretation of higher education’s role that is a far cry from the university as ivory tower. The Wisconsin Idea coupled research, teaching, and real world problem solving.
Ground for this position at Wisconsin was established in the Morrill Act (1862) which set aside public on behalf of state universities whose missions were to improve agriculture and the mechanical arts, and the decision by the Wisconsin Board of Regents in 1885 to establish short courses for adults not interested in entering credit programs. Thus, General Extension, as it developed, had two major axes: off-campus credit (or degree instruction), and the not-for-credit short course.
As a consequence of their locations, often in the geographic center of a state, the state universities in America had major off-campus, and what we would now call distance learning obligations giving a very literal interpretation to the term "university extension." These were originally addressed by means of traveling faculty, then correspondence, and now by electronic means. The need to bring order and standardization to this extension work was a major raison d’etre for continuing education. The short courses, by comparison were practical applications of university research and expertise. They were organized on a basis of self-financing thereby establishing a funding pattern of self-support that continues to this day. Short courses are more variable in nature. The introduction of the Continuing Education Unit (CEU) in the 1970's however has made possible some standardized accounting for professions requiring continuing education as a basis for relicensure.
Other features of educational progressivism that have become integrated with American adult education and its world-view are a student centered approach to learning, a developmental view of the person, seeing learning as problem-solving, a perspective of the classroom as a platform for social change especially modeling the ideal world of the future, and the role of the teacher as much broader than dispensing information but as an educational innovator and experimenter.
Urbanism. University Extension as it has just been described- distance education and short courses- was primarily the world of large state universities in rural and ultimately "college town" locations. The metropolitan experience was usually quite different. Since the 17th century there had been a tradition of colonial evening schools in New England and the eastern American cities offering instruction in commercial and technical subjects. It is correct to see Evening Divisions within 20th century urban universities as being part of this history of part-time, after-work, education. Full blown Evening Colleges came to resemble "shadow" versions of the daytime collegiate enterprise offering college degrees, both undergraduate, graduate, and professional, sometimes in astonishing variety and depth. In addition to part-time students, they also enrolled those who could not gain admission to the day school. This population tended to enroll full-time at night and was demographically similar to their day counterparts.
As in the case of University Extension, Evening Colleges were also vulnerable to the criticism of "soft pedagogy" and the litany of tired students, tired faculty, and second rate programs. Nevertheless insatiable student demand for higher education ensured the success of both of these experiments.
Education for Good Citizenship. This is another subset of programs historically rooted in American adult education. They have taken several forms.
Americanization. Courses on English as a Second Language, the responsibilities of citizens, and on American culture. These programs, which were offered free of charge to participants, were developed in response to the large increase in non-English speaking immigrants in the early part of the century and continue today. Often located in public schools or community centers which will also schedule for this population programs in Literacy and High School Equivalency.
From 1951-1961, during the Cold War, the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education embarked upon an ambitious plan to strengthen democratic values among the middle class. The Fund’s President, Robert Maynard Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago, initiated an array of liberal adult education programs including a Great Books Discussion Program which explored Western intellectual traditions. In other courses students, using materials developed at universities, discussed foreign policy and urban planning issues. Both types of programs emphasized "critical thinking" which was viewed as fundamental to good citizenship within a democracy.
In addition to cold war phobias, the Ford Foundation was concerned about the proper use of leisure time, and extending high culture to the masses. The Fund for Adult Education is directly responsible for mainstreaming liberal adult education on a self-supporting, pay-as-you-go, basis within American continuing higher education. With this theme of self-enrichment we come full circle with that of self-improvement described at the outset of this section.
The Contemporary Period
Turning to the contemporary period of the past twenty years, we see the continuation of earlier threads but with several new twists.
The Workplace. The centrality of the workplace for adult learning is a result of the synergy of three related forces: individual, corporate, and national competitiveness. Instability in the workplace and careers and also the perception of new opportunities have fueled an upward spiral of occupationally related continuing adult education.
The Individual. Computerization, or informating, of the workplace probably accounts for the greatest proportion of continued learning in the USA today. There appears to be no end to this phenomenon with newer versions of software, machine upgrades, a greater number of tasks being given over to computers as computational power increases by leaps and bounds. The developments in this area have surprised everybody, including those within the field of information technology. We are on a perpetual learning curve ourselves. And the opportunities for training others and learning new computer applications, in both work and education, seem, at this time, without end. Whereas most corporate training conducted by universities has historically been in the areas of management and general professional development, computer training has become a ubiquitous and substantial product line. I think it would be impossible to find a continuing education division in the United States without its own computer labs.
Business and industrial expansion have also provided incentives for employees to embark on all skills and credential-related education, for degrees and certificates, and to fill the new jobs created by economic growth.
Additionally, the volatility of the job market and the structural obsolescence of some occupational ranks, especially in middle management and in technical areas being taken over by the computer, have placed a premium upon continued training as a hedge against premature and unwanted retirement. The skewed distribution of economic rewards within organizations based upon the acquisition of specialized high level skills has also sharpened internal competition and created incentives for continuing education.
Corporate Competitiveness. Staff investment is now understood as the key to a winning corporate strategy. The prevailing management zeitgeist is "the learning organization" and the importance of intellectual capital for corporate innovation. Increasingly employees are seen as the real corporate resource. Tom Peters, in his recently published Circle of Innovation (1997) urges administrative leaders to make staff units the vital centers of intellectual capital accumulation rather than the prime source of corporate drag. The pace of technological change is so fast that traditional command and control management structures that are rigidly hierarchically based are ineffective and even enfeebling in identifying opportunities for growth. For an entrepreneurial culture, the locus of action is, as Peters, Drucker, and others have observed, the individual and small work group. Continued learning is an intrinsic part of this culture.
During the recent recession, wave after wave of corporate downsizing resulted in an environment where workers had to perform more tasks, and thus had to expand their knowledge bases through continuing education. With economic recovery came the realization that the way to retain good employees and not lose them to the competition was through offering opportunities to learn, grow, and develop new skills. Thus, in scenarios of both economic decline and growth continuing education has become a value added commodity.
National Productivity. The acceptance of the global marketplace, the mobility of capital, and the experience of losing business, especially manufacturing, to offshore competitors has painfully reminded political leaders of the reality of sudden economic erosion. The federal position in the USA is to help foster a climate conducive to industrial expansion, one of the components of which is continued learning in the workplace. The recent implementation of the Hope Scholarship, an annual tax credit for individuals of up to $1,500 for continuing education increases the likelihood of employees investing in their own economic development. This is the first national initiative aimed towards the middle class and can have a very broad national strategic impact. It represents a change from perceiving adult education as "remediation" for at risk groups. On the other hand, some educational benefits at work have lost their tax exempt status, so there has been reversal too.
The convergence of these factors has focused greater attention on the importance of organized lifelong learning as a permanent fixture of modern life. The palpable value of continuing education requires no further argument since it is based on economic reality and not morality in contrast with former appeals. In addition to Adam Smith’s "invisible hand" we can now add Microsoft’s new software releases.
Partnerships for Industrial Growth. One of the most interesting features of this continuing education landscape is the emergence of new forms of corporate partnerships often involving multiple businesses. Increasingly the specialized nature of training requires companies to join with others to achieve critical mass of participants and to spread costs over a larger number of organizations. Universities help crystallize these very dynamic working partnerships bringing to the table knowledge of funding opportunities, grant writing know-how, and a level playing field that is open to all.
The ability to parley these cooperative relationships into more complex iterations such as business incubators and industrial development zones propels university continuing education divisions into becoming active agents of economic recovery and revitalization.
Addressing Social Problems. I would now like to turn to three problem areas and provide a brief thumbnail sketch of some of the factors associated with continuing education for these populations. In the case of addressing the needs of the unemployed and the illiterate, these are federal and state initiatives. For the aging, programs are the responsibility of local agencies and organizations including universities.
Unemployment & Welfare to Work. Short term education programs for the unemployed are now the policy vademecum of choice compared with welfare assistance programs of indefinite duration. There is, however, a great debate about the efficacy of this approach. Although very attractive to public officials who see welfare commanding large percentages of their budgets, educators with experience in addressing the needs of the unemployed know how complicated this challege is. Offering second chance education without fully grasping the problems faced by these populations is an invitation to disaster. Can schools address these complex social issues? Probably not without a sizeable investment in support services that will make them resemble social service agencies. These can include childcare, transportation and/or a transportation allowance, allocations for books and supplies, psychological counseling, emergency funds for housing, job placement and referral services, etc.
Literacy. This is the Achilles heel of American adult education. Although there have been various attempts at professionalizing literacy education, it still remains the bastion of volunteer one-to-one tutoring with little to no active research base. Federal efforts, which were directed towards coupling university based research with literacy teacher training ran afoul of states rights and local control. As a consequence, the federal strategy of centralization (actually regional coordination, 5 regions) was fragmented into 50 different approaches in 50 different states. Approximately five years ago a number of universities were designated as literacy research centers. But without the investment in full-time literacy staffing, instructional and administrative, and training it is unlikely that this sector can progress.
Aging Population. The decision of higher education to serve this population through "Learning in Retirement" (LIR) programs is largely a function of the heightened visibility, especially the affluence and influence, of segments of this population. Virtually every college in the USA has redirected some portion of its effort towards the retired and semi-retired. The example of Elderhostel gave graphic proof of the mobility, income level, and educational appetite for these senior students of the "Third Age." In addition to establishing LIR programs, other approaches for this audience include free or greatly reduced tuition for credit courses.
Educated retirees are an ideal cohort for liberal adult learning since a sizable proportion are freed from the competitive pressures of earning a living. They constitute a privileged subset of the elderly having the means, curiosity, educational experience, and time. This is a population that is also growing dramatically. Because of high prior levels of learning it is relatively easy for colleges and universities to reach out to this population which is often all too happy to return to school.
In the 1950's it appeared that continued prosperity, benign automation, and confidence in unlimited industrial productivity would guarantee leisure and unlimited opportunities for all. It is an irony of our epoch that this lotus land can only be visited and enjoyed by those who are no longer members of the workforce.
"The Learning Society" in an Era of Technology
No talk on continuing education would be complete without taking a quick glance at the impact of technology on the learning society. A major dividend of the computerized workplace has been the application of this technology to entertainment, consumer activity, and, more importantly for our purposes, learning.
Internet Learning. The Internet places vast educational opportunities at our fingertips including enrolling in college courses and earning degrees on line. It is amazing how within an incredibly brief period of time, especially the last five years, this feature of contemporary educational life has been integrated to the point where it is no longer seen as revolutionary. This is owing to the continuous evolution of distance learning which has never failed to adapt successive advances in communications and transportation technologies: horseback, the auto, correspondence, radio, television, audio and video cassettes, film strips, satellites, microwave and fiber optic transmission of data, and now the use of the computer.
Taught within an asynchronous learning environment internet courses are becoming the distance learning venue of choice for working adults even though correspondence and video courses supported by email continue to find a market, albeit diminishing. It is important to realize that internet learning takes place within both a broader and deeper context of electronic access to ever expanding data-bases composed of university and national libraries, scholarly journals, rare manuscripts, and perhaps more importantly, the possibility of international learning communities. The innovations of streamed video, and the most important feature, enhanced portability that could include direct satellite transmissions of data, could truly revolutionize access to learning worldwide. If we can overcome physical separation what is a remote zone when it comes to education?
It is undeniable that there are expanding opportunities for the educational enfranchisement of the computer literate masses. I don’t think that term is an oxymoron. Computer literacy is becoming ubiquitous in the same way as being able to drive a car. But, is this a more level playing field? Only to the extent that program availability and price are within necessary parameters. The commitment of public universities to distance learning is essential as a way of minimizing cost barriers.
Even so, there are people who can drive who do not own cars. And there are places on this globe where autos are still a rarity. It would be the most Pollyannish fantasy to think or deceive ourselves that computerization will
make a direct difference for the economically and socially marginalized, victims of oppression, the exploited, and the enslaved. And there will always be those who will choose to live apart from this "modern" culture. More interesting will be the ways in which fragments of technology are integrated with the common place. Sensors, smart cards, smart buildings, smart tools, a plethora of new medical devices including prosthetics, and computerized implants. Will a cyber culture emerge within our own lifetimes? This is a real possibility we can entertain with either anticipation or dread, or both.
Inevitably this development will play out along pre-existing fault lines and cleavages of privilege. Yet, it is the role of democratic institutions, especially those in higher education to go beyond and disseminate the electronic bounty in a spirit of inclusion and opportunity for as many as possible.
The Aura of Higher Education. The aura and influence of higher education is based on several inter-related factors: As limited access repositories of scholarship offering specialized training, holding the power to grant credentials which convey with them economic and social privilege.
Will existing institutions of higher education lose their aura as access to education credentials is spread more widely throughout society as a feature of our technological society? Or will greater access raise minimal thresholds for participation in the way that college degrees have supplanted high school graduation as the entry point to many well paying jobs? There is always the counter-intuitive possibility that as more and more people earn their educational credentials via the internet, the prestige value of a "real’ college degree from a name brand institution will increase in value. In other words, there is still only one Harvard and University of Frankfurt. Yet, the fact remains, there is more (and will be more) world-wide employment opportunities within our performance-based economy than are currently being met. The reality of courses by computer has demonstrated that rigorous, quality higher education is attainable for those who cannot be physically part of a college in a traditional manner. As more people are educated and earn degrees in this fashion and it is evidenced that their performance within society is indistinguishable from their conventionally educated coworkers, colleagues, and neighbors, the acceptance of computer courses will spread. Quality performance-based benchmarks will encourage even more people to study electronically.
It is impossible for me to argue against this trend, even though as an individual I may still retain my preferences for what passes as a "conventional" education. Broader choice helps us all. I believe that we must have a utopian vision of this better world that is attainable through the wider distribution of learning opportunities.
The Learning Business
Those of us in adult education have had precious few illusions about education as a business. Our portion of higher education has always been more dependent upon fee generation than others. I touched upon this feature of continuing education earlier in my talk. But as all of higher education, with the erosion of state support, has migrated in this direction, we have to look at what being a business actually entails. Minimally it entails delivering the right product at the right price within a competitive marketplace characterized by fewer entrance barriers. It can also mean generating a profit for shareholders.
The University of Phoenix is the best example of this new breed of for-profit institutions. Accredited only 20 years ago it, now boasts well over 40,000 students, exceeding New York University’s 35,000 and Brigham Young’s 32,000 making it the largest private university in the USA. It offers BA’s and MA’s mostly in business and fields like information technology, health, and education. It accepts no one under the age of 23 and only those gainfully employed. Quoting from an article in the NY Times (10/15/97, p. B 1) "Phoenix is tapping into an exploding and lucrative portion of a $200 billion higher-education market where costs have been widely seen as out of control."
Tuition is about $6,500 per year which is somewhat more than most publics (at Stony Brook graduate tuition is approximately $5,000 per year), but considerably less than most privates. Costs are controlled by reliance on part-time faculty, use of electronic libraries, and no physical plant to speak of. Class size is limited to 15-20 students, most of whom seem satisfied with what they are receiving. Although other universities have tried to compete with Phoenix for adult students they can’t. Quoting from the NY Times, "[M]ost extension programs [for adults] tend to be institutional stepchildren. At Phoenix, it is all the university does." (B 8). Since 1994 shares have been publicly offered on the Nasdaq Exchange (Apollo Group). Starting at $2 per share, in October 1997 they traded at over 40, the date of the Times article. On September 17, 1998 the stock went as low as 24 in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article which raised doubts about the sustainability of long term growth (Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 1998, p. A44).
Another for-profit educational ventures is Sylvan Learning (which I have heard is entering into a marketing agreement with the American Council on Education to offer the GED high school equivalency credential worldwide and with Johns Hopkins University for a Business in Medicine Program [Continuing Higher Education review, Vol. 62, Fall 1998, p.67]) and the Edison Project which contracts to provide public school education in a score of American cities.
Recently I read in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the national education periodical, that Kaplan Educational Centers, one of the largest test preparation businesses in the USA is starting the nation’s first on-line law degree program that will enable students to earn a juris doctor without leaving home (September 25, 1998).
By way of contrast, the traditional university environment, especially in the public sector, thwarts attempts to function in a businesslike manner. The confluence of academia and government are stifling and breed conservatism. It has often been claimed that the university is the least changed of all contemporary institutions over the past 500 years.
Yet there is grudging acceptance that universities must move in this direction and accept marketplace values. Most disturbing in this metamorphosis is the legitimizing of economic sorting as a determinant of who will be educated and who will not. How will this compromise the mandate for public service? And what about the theme of self-improvement? Using the marketplace as a filter will have very serious consequences, especially as it erodes perceptions of opportunity for the less well-off.
Images of Continuing Education
I wish to close with a brief review of possible images or views of continuing education. I offer these because I am convinced that an impoverished image bank limits our behavioral possibilities, personally and professionally. By recasting how we view institutions, which after all are our creations, we expand our present and future.
The "cash cow" is a common metaphor. Other ways of viewing continuing education can include the following which are offered as a preliminary list.
- store for educational commodities.Taking the cash cow one step further. The "program shop." A world of marketing, product lines, benchmarking, productivity measures, and net profit.
- social change agent addressing societal problems.We are here to improve society- eradicate poverty, address inequality, prejudice, and to promote social justice.
- catalyst for economic development. Jump starting and furthering the local and regional economies, improve the capabilities of the workforce.
- school for adultsextending educational opportunity. The key word is school. An adult school, trying to replicate as fully as possible the opportunities (choice of programs plus quality) which day students enjoy.
- front parlor or porch of the university where "town" meets "gown".Help the public learn what the university has to offer. A way to sample what is there and entice entry into specialized components.
- R&D program unit for the university.A place to "pilot" new programs and services. Give faculty a chance to experiment and teach that dream course.
- life enrichment.Resources for the community to tap- lectures, social, recreational and cultural events which can enhance quality of life.
Has American adult education reached its apotheosis? The mantra of continuous skills improvement is now so ubiquitous that it is largely unnecessary for the professional community to advocate its importance. Yet at the same time a meaningful educational role that engages the philosophy, values, and imagination of the adult learning profession beyond training and workplace development has not yet been articulated. Larger issues dealing with educational access and opportunity, especially into credit and degree programs, are being overlooked in the rush to develop a still greater number of short term training programs required to satisfy continuing education revenue requirements and a truncated view of university outreach. These programs, although valuable, do not substitute for high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees for part-time adult students. There is a need for an broader democratic vision of American adult education that transcends workplace adaptation/skills enhancement and aspires to fuller access to higher education for a greater number of people.
Employer conceived and initiated workplace requirements for higher skilled staffs are encouraging colleges to develop contract based degree programs, still further extending learning opportunities through employment. Colleges (and the businesses themselves) enter into these relationships not out of idealism, but because of the need to maximize revenue. Should we care or be troubled about "motivation" as long as good work is being accomplished? This continuing trend only confirms the market driven nature of adult education and its economic roots. Pragmatic, focused— exactly those terms are used when we talk about why adults return to school. Maybe, in truth, we should encourage our colleagues and school ourselves to become better businesspeople in order to fully exploit this intertwined relationship between education and employment. This is not where I expected to end up in this talk. But perhaps it is the place from which to recommence a dialogue concerning adult education in the years ahead.
Kett, in his history of adult learning in America, critiqued professional continuing educators as those who viewed "higher education from the boiler room rather than the bridge" (1994, p. 187). By that he meant that lacking vision and idealism they could not be expected to lead, and thus, by necessity, must receive direction from others on which way to power the vessel. He viewed the change of continuing education philosophy in the 20th century as going from intellectual and academic values to those of enrollment management. It is incumbent upon us to strive for a vision of adult education that truly reaches out to transform and improve society through the most generous view of educational opportunity. That entails defining the meaning of adult education as well as its mechanisms.
Paul Jay Edelson: Concepts and Trends in
American Adult Education. Online im Internet – URL: http://www.die-frankfurt.de/esprid/dokumente/doc-1998/edelson98_01.htm
Dokument aus dem Internet-Service des Deutschen Instituts für Erwachsenenbildung e. V. – http://www.die-frankfurt.de/esprid