Academic journal article Adult Learning

Future Directions for Adult Education Identified in 1990: How They Live on Today

Academic journal article Adult Learning

Future Directions for Adult Education Identified in 1990: How They Live on Today

Article excerpt

In 1990, emerging leaders in the field identified themes that would shape future directions of adult education as a field of research and practice (Adrian, 1993). Now, nearly two decades later, we revisit those themes with a brief description on how they were identified then and what we see now with social changes and the introduction of the Internet. Future columns will address these themes in more detail.

1. Address complex social issues in context: In 1990, the 1980s slogan "Just say no to drugs" was not an effective way to teach because it did not deal with the larger societal context around drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, this gap between evidence and policy still persists, as evidenced by pressure to offer abstinence-only sex education.

2. Roles for teachers and learners: Education should address diversity of culture, race, gender, and life experience and provide a forum for dialogue and critical thinking. In 1990, multiple intelligences, learning style, and learner-centered education framed this discussion. Today, the issues associated with this theme also include academic freedom and negotiation of curriculum between teachers and learners.

3. Increase political awareness: Adult educators in 1990 recognized the need to influence the political processes to fund programs, such as adult basic education. Today, this issue has become even more critical with increasing use of low-paid adjuncts, for-profit universities, rising tuition costs--and spending cuts for higher and continuing education in the face of the new economy's increasing needs for an educated workforce.

4. Communicate the value of adult education programs: Adult educators recognized that program evaluation was important to secure funding in 1990. There was a debate about how to balance quantitative and qualitative methods. Today, the policy balance emphasizes evidence-based practice measured through narrow quantitative standards, but educators increasingly value integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches. …

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