Making Space: Merging Theory and Practice in Adult Education

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

Part II

History Revisited and Claimed

Part II of Making Space addresses adult learning within certain important social and historical movements and phenomena. In Chapter 6, Smith explores the learning and entrepreneurship of African-American women in the 1800s and their involvement in capitalist ventures and use of commercial enterprise as a way of engendering their own freedom and that of others during slavery and Reconstruction. Smith’s reclamation of the historical roots of this marginalized group of adult learners and leaders, whose roots and traditions reach back to ancient Africa, is an inspiring description of the way in which historical role models can help contemporary learners find validation, and voice.

In Chapter 7, Hugo addresses the way in which gender, race, and class intersect with the construction of knowledge and the epistemological development of women, and exposes the way in which the social perceptions of what women can and cannot do in society shapes the education that is offered to them. Her chapter emphasizes the importance of forming connections and relationships among women within the learning venue. Through a historical case study of a 110-year-old women’s study club in New York State, Hugo presents a compelling description and analysis of how the politics of knowledge and the negotiation of difference and dissent get played out among a group of middle-class white women.

Following on this theme of the politics of knowledge, Chapman’s work in Chapter 8 takes the reader back to the rural South to expose the role that corporate American philanthropy played in the support of racism in the South at the turn of the century. This chapter presents a historical analysis of the influence that northern philanthropists had in relation to southern whites and southern educators. Through a critical analysis of the way in which churches, benevolent societies, and philanthropists promoted and financed education for newly freed Blacks, and then subsequently promoted the founding of Black colleges, the role

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