Adult Students "At-Risk": Culture Bias in Higher Education

Adult Students "At-Risk": Culture Bias in Higher Education

Adult Students "At-Risk": Culture Bias in Higher Education

Adult Students "At-Risk": Culture Bias in Higher Education

Synopsis

Adults have been and remain marginalized in academic institutions because of the persistence of a deeply rooted culture bias. This work analyzes the current state of the adult student experience in higher education, exploring the organizational, instructional, and interpersonal barriers that adults face in reaching their educational goals. Using applied critical and postmodern theory, the author explores the hypothesis that adults are "at-risk" in higher education settings because of such bias. The book includes an extensive review and critique of the literature and of contemporary adult programs and practices. In addition, adult students' personal accounts of their academic experiences are presented. This study not only reveals the nature and scope of the obstacles faced by adult students, but begins to suggest tangible ways students and educators can work to overcome them.

Excerpt

Educational reform has fallen upon hard times. The traditional assumption that schooling is fundamentally tied to the imperatives of citizenship designed to educate students to exercise civic leadership and public service has been eroded. The schools are now the key institution for producing professional, technically trained, credentialized workers for whom the demands of citizenship are subordinated to the vicissitudes of the marketplace and the commercial public sphere. Given the current corporate and right wing assault on public and higher education coupled with the emergence of a moral and political climate that has shifted to a new Social Darwinism, the issues which framed the democratic meaning, purpose, and use to which education might aspire have been displaced by more vocational and narrowly ideological considerations.

The war waged against the possibilities of an education wedded to the precepts of a real democracy is not merely ideological. Against the backdrop of reduced funding for public schooling, the call for privatization, vouchers, cultural uniformity, and choice, there are the often ignored larger social realities of material power and oppression. On the national level, there has been a vast resurgence of racism. This is evident in the passing of anti-immigration laws such as Proposition 187 in California, the dismantling of the welfare state, the demonization of black youth that is taking place in the popular media, and the remarkable attention provided by the media to forms of race talk that argue for the intellectual inferiority of blacks or dismiss calls for racial justice as simply a holdover from the "morally bankrupt" legacy of the 1960s.

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