Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

By Vanessa Sheared; Peggy A. Sissel et al. | Go to book overview

Foreword

In 1986, John Niemi, chair of the Commission of Professors of Adult Education (CPAE), working with Harold Stubblefield, proposed a broad publishing agenda to its parent group, the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). Among the books planned was a twenty-fifth anniversary follow-up of the “black book,” Adult Education: Outlines of an Emerging Field of University Study (Jensen, Liveright, and Hallenbeck 1964), which was the professors’ first attempt to define graduate study in adult education. The anniversary book, Adult Education: Evolution and Achievement in a Developing Field of Study, was published in 1991 (Peters, Jarvis et al. 1991). Its goal was “to reflect on the accomplishments of the field of study since the publication of the black book, to characterize the field of study, and to consider its future possibilities.”

In May 1992, a strong critique emerged in a general session at the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC), where several of the edited book’s authors appeared in a symposium. The issues were clear: the CPAE and its new seminal book were rejected as being Eurocentric, racist, gender insensitive, elitist, and exclusionary. For many, the twenty-fifth anniversary book was a carbon copy of the original black book. True, there were two women authors, but where were the voices of the marginalized groups? Why were there mostly reports on formal adult education sponsored by institutions?

This forum became a watershed within the CPAE and the AERC. Before the weekend was out, Ralph Brockett unilaterally announced that a Jossey-Bass source book would be devoted to race and feminist concerns in adult education. A vote was taken at the AERC business meeting to approve a resolution to bring out an alternative book, and it was also decided that it should be published by

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