Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge: Learning beyond the Limits

Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge: Learning beyond the Limits

Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge: Learning beyond the Limits

Adult Education and the Postmodern Challenge: Learning beyond the Limits

Synopsis

Drawing on the new intellectual frameworks of critical pedagogy, feminism and postmodernism and their impact upon educational theory, practice and research, the book focuses on the changing contexts of adult education.

By building on the notion of going beyond the limits of certain current adult education orthodoxies, the authors try to provide alternatives for practice. The final three chapters deal with research, focusing on a critical macro-analysis of mainstream paradigms, a review of alternative approaches, and a more micro-analysis centering on the role of the socially-located self in the research process.

Excerpt

This book started life as a proposed second edition of Adult Education as Theory, Practice and Research: The Captive Triangle (Usher and Bryant 1989). Although it evoked strongly polarised feelings amongst its readership, The Captive Triangle did contribute to the creation of a change in intellectual climate and outlook in the world of adult and continuing education. Alongside its sometimes fierce critics, there were many who indicated that the orientation and approach we proposed was welcome and stimulating. Many of the ideas and concepts introduced have now been incorporated into the general thinking of the field. In retrospect, we would argue that it was probably ahead of its time when published in 1989, which may, perhaps, explain why there was a tendency to dismiss it as a 'difficult' text (which we admit that it was).

The overall purpose of that book was to examine the relationship between theory, practice and research in adult education. The assumption was that there is a unity between these elements and that the enhancement of practice is best achieved by a recognition of this unity and its consequences. However, the argument put forward was that we are 'captured' by a foundationalist and restricted understanding of the nature of the triangular relationship; so that, for example, we always see theory and research in terms of disciplinary knowledge and therefore as always applied to practice. We sought in The Captive Triangle first of all to challenge the notion that adult education as a field of study is founded in disciplinary knowledge. If it is to be understood as a practice, it cannot be reduced to a psychology of learning or a sociology of participation. Second, that it is necessary to provide a different way of analysing the place of 'theory', one which emphasises its purpose as 'reviewing' rather than 'legislating' for practice, a different approach to the theory-practice-research relationship. Third, we wanted to highlight the notion of 'practical' knowledge and 'practical' reasoning, to emphasise that it has its own integrity and could provide an alternative to a technical-rationality model of practice and a positivist paradigm of research.

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