Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

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

Part III

Classrooms and Communities: Contexts, Questions, and Critiques

Part III of Making Space takes us into the world of learners and teachers living in Appalachia and the prisons of Pennsylvania. We then are asked to examine whether or not one arm of the field is prepared or “equipped” to handle what lays ahead, and finally, we are told that we must understand that what we do as “teachers/educators” is political. As these chapters unfold, we find ourselves having to not only examine the ways in which the contexts affect us, but we are also told to examine the ways in which these contexts ultimately affect our content and our culture.

One’s lived experiences evolve out of one’s race, class, gender, language, and sexual orientation, and in this section it is even where one is situated in a given geographic location. As Wade Nobles 1 so adequately articulates, in order for us to appreciate the ways in which our lived experiences affect each one of us, we must begin to explore the ways in which the context shapes or influences who we are (culture) and what we say (content).

As we make our way through each context, we find ourselves in an Appalachian community, where Bingman and White, along with Kirby, explore the ways that programs can unfold when you rely upon the content that is provided by those whose lives we seek to serve. In Chapter 11, they describe their roles as facilitators of a program aimed at serving Appalachian young women living in poverty. They explore how language is used to create meaning and explain one’s historical and socioeconomic base, as well as how class and gender influence the ways in which people think about needs and program development. To that end they state that their description of community-based organizations or programs is determined by how one’s roots in a particular community are connected to the “locus of control and initiative” they exert in participating and changing what and how their communities operate. In using the term “hillbilly” as a way to describe one’s self, we also begin to see how language affects how we see ourselves. Moreover, the use of this term embodies and gives meaning

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