Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

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

Reconstructing the Field: Our Personal and Collective Identities

In this, the concluding part of Making Space, contributors present readers with alternative ways of thinking about our roles as adult educators and the way in which they intersect with, accommodate, and/or resist hegemonic structures that are present within the institutions with whom we work. As with other contributors in this text, the critical stance taken by these authors provides a compelling critique of how we both conceptualize and construct our work with learners, now and in the future.

In Chapter 20, Childs examines the Australian context of adult education and analyzes a decade of rapid change resulting from the intersection of class transition, shifting capitalism, globalization, and the movement of the marginalized toward the center, on a terrain of government social policy, organizational change, and vocational engineering. While Childs’ discussion is context-specific, her analysis of the shifting terrains of adult education practice is useful to all who wish to critically reflect about the tension that exists between the roots of the field that promote social justice, grassroots activism, and participatory inclusive democracy, and the new realities of the role of adult education in a global economy.

In Chapter 21, Garrick and Solomon explore the relationship between the development of identities in and through experiences of postindustrial work. Analyzing how workplaces today shape and control not only worker knowledge, but also workers, in desired corporate ways, Garrick and Solomon call our attention to the complicit role of the trainer in the corporate agenda. By drawing on Foucault’s theorizations of power, they provide a compelling assessment of the human resource development function and its power to co-opt and seduce both workers and trainers alike. In doing so, they argue for renewed reflection on adult educators’ roles, and active resistance against the rhetoric of empowerment that is so prevalent in the workplace today.

In a similar way, Jeria also takes a systems approach in his critique of adult


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Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education
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