Vanessa Sheared and Peggy A. Sissel
Throughout this book the authors have told stories about our collective pasts
and our present realities, as well as shared with us the implications of those realities for the future. More importantly, they have examined the ways in which our racial, sexual, and cultural identities, and the realities of economic conditions both locally and globally, have influenced and affected how our histories have either been unified or dichotomized in response to these factors. Thus, in this concluding chapter we’d like to summarize the key points offered by the contributors regarding these issues, and offer our reflections on the ways in which one’s race, gender, class; one’s sexual orientation, language, or experience have been negated or promoted within the field of adult education. In so doing, we will also address the following questions, which we hope will help the reader understand why we believe that these factors, as the authors have so ardently articulated throughout this book, are important to any discourse dealing with change. Given that we live in a racist, sexist, ageist, classist, and homophobic society, what significance will these issues have in adult education as we move into the twenty-first century? What should research and practice look like if one acts upon these understandings in a way that is emancipatory and authentic? How can we engage others as well as our colleagues in dialogues that revolve around these issues, such that change will occur in our lifetime? Where should this dialogue occur?
Clearly, an ongoing reflective response is not and should not be limited to our voices alone; nor do we pretend that we have all the answers to all the questions that have been raised by others in this text, or those that we pursue below. Due to the complexity of these issues, we believe that the only way that we can begin to make space for “others” as well as those of us in the academy, is to engage in critical, reflective dialogue. Some might argue that if you don’t