Canadian Adult Education Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1670 Words
Date:  2022-11-08


The last years of the twentieth century, adult education has increasingly been considered prominent. The argument concerning the increased interest in adult education has been associated with rapid social and technological transformations that have provoked adults to seek additional training and familiarization with the advancements. While much significance of adult education has been based on globalization and need for employment, the roots can be traced to a strong tradition of social transformation. The journey has been connected from the importation of Mechanics' Institute from Britain in 1827 to early 1900s during the Antigonish Movement, adult educators have framed their operations in the language of social justice, citizenship, and voluntary democracy. The questions have been triggered concerning the purpose of adult educators because of the conflict of economy versus education for social transformation contradiction. Regardless of the friction, a certainty is derived on the factor that no other era has experienced debates concerning learning like the modern era. The learning has expounded from children to adults where every individual is invested in gaining knowledge and education applies to every member of society. In the twenty-first century, Canadian society has experienced learning significantly to democracy, economic, and social life- a learning society. As much as adult educators forget social roots and emancipatory goals, every member of the community regardless of the status in the society need to be competent and aware of Canadian traditions in adult education.

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The historical roots of Canadian traditions can be traced in the 1990s where adult educators were expected to embrace the notions that careers and lifetime employment are ever evolving and they required constant upgrading and retraining. Adult educators were conditioned as a channel of delivering and imposing this message and policy that adult academicians were expected to delve and present research and education to emphasize the mantra. The emphasis created a learning society where adults would voluntarily participate in learning throughout their lifespan. The continuous learning empowered the knowledge, aptitudes, and capabilities for those who were employed in the civic, public, economic, and education sectors. The adult education was embraced because it empowered the learners, increased efficiency in those who operated in an ever-changing society, promoted cognitive and critical skills, and facilitated adult knowledge.

Consequently, adult educators were demanded to possess requisite knowledge and aptitudes to ensure high performance in their sectors. However, an argument challenged the perspective of gaining updated knowledge since it undermined the information age. Welton (2006) argued that modern policymakers and educators engage in misleading the masses in concluding that the relationship between adult education and operating sectors experienced challenges accrued through age. The policymakers implied that information and skills changed with evolved technology and social skills making the original knowledge and aptitudes redundant.

However, learning society is not oblivious of the lifelong education being connected to the information age, the history of Canada influenced adult education. Canada demanded constant enlightenment in society concerning the causes of the suffering experienced and ways to gain the power to change their lifestyle in the early twentieth century. Through the need of changing the lifestyle and provide solutions to the factors that caused struggles, social and cooperative learning has been enabled by voluntary organizations and advocated by men and woman who lack formal training in adult education strategies and methods. However, the twenty-first century has experienced a knowledge-based economy where knowledge and information determine its thriving. Therefore, adults engage in learning for the objective of self-development as well as acquire knowledge and skills mandatory for survival in the new era. Livingstone (1999) asserted that Canadian adults engage fifteen hours a week in voluntary, informal education to increase their knowledge and hone their skills. Candy (1981) stated that the phenomenal growth in adult learning activities had compelled demand for knowledgeable and competent adult educators. The need for competently trained adult educators stirred a debate in the adult learning community on the professionalization of adult educators.

While Canada has experienced professionalization in several fields such as law, medicine, and engineering, the issue of competent and trained adult educators continue being a debate subject. Most people have vocalized their support in having adult ESL educators being professionalized since it would validate the practitioners prevailing knowledge, experiences, and skills. Professionalization aims towards improving the quality of disseminated adult education. However, the professionalization argument has become a complex issue. The issue has received supporters and opponents stating that increased professionalization of educators would lead to an obsession with technology and technique while advocates have indicated that it would improve the performance of the adult tutors and ensure the consumer is guaranteed quality content. The debate on professionalism among adult educators highlights that education is continuously reinventing and structuring itself to the modern advancements. Adult education has been faced with the need to contribute to democracy and ascertain social justice through aligning to the postmodern notions. Adult learners are compelled by their historical perspective about the modernization as well as adapting to the present and future demands. Paradigm shifts have a significant impact on learners.

The original mantra about understanding the historical struggles and connecting among communities and their members have shifted towards aligning with the market-driven field of practice. Pursuing the market-driven field has weakened the communal bonds and emphasized on individualism and capitalism. The shifts have caused the learners to cease for pursuers of knowledge and information and be considered education consumers. The community learning organizations such as NGOs have decreased while formal learning sites have increased proving the consumerism shift. Initially, the NGOs invested in teaching the community while empowering their knowledge and honing their skills, the purpose of adult education was rooted in the communism. However, contemporary attention has been restructured in capitalism and commodification of education changing the political and economic structure of the field.

Additionally, different paradigms have influenced divergent methods in academics. Universities offer formal educational experiences that are off-shelf since they are scientific paradigms. However, universities encounter a contrast where they have provided practitioners to deliver the humanistic viewpoint concerning the practice. The trend has caused concerns that highlight the plight of professionalization in the field affirming that the goal that entailed lifelong learning will succumb to lifetime schooling.

Furthermore, conflict is experienced concerning advocating for the status quo entailing skills and training and supporting social transformation. Scholars have argued concerning the conflict experienced between the traditional scope of adult education that focused on social justice and environmental sustainability and goals of institutional providers of adult learning. The conventional role of adult education as a social entity is being challenged by augmented popularity of techniques based on science and technology. The universities have increased their capacities in determining and shaping ideologies and values connected with adult educators. The concern revolves in the increased demand for professionalization in a field involved with graduate programs, academic fraternity, and substantially continuous education entities. However, the argument was rejected in the 1950s where adult educators declined the offer of existing in the same spaces as other professions in pursuit of increasing their knowledge and skills within the universities. Since then, graduate adult education programs have retained their stability making it a more considered activity since it performs a vital function in shaping community beliefs and values.

Adult Education as a Movement

Selman and Dampier (1998) considered adult education as a movement since it appeared in several literary references. The reports that referenced adult education was traced as early as 1919 by the British Ministry of Reconstruction. Adult education purposed on liberating the community through providing elevating knowledge that would impact one's life and not just for employment purposes. Furthermore, adult education affected social change goals such as personal awareness, participatory citizenship, and encouraged a democratic community. The emergence of adult education was influenced by the increased concerns of poverty, exploitation, and alienation. Due to the agreed purpose, adult education gained a momentum demanded in impacting personal and social change. The twenty-first century has witnessed increased adult education and training programs that are formal and non-formal within several learning institutions and community organizations.

However, the goals of adult education have shifted from emphasizing social change and conflict with the original goals that championed democracy and liberation. The concern has focused on whether science and technology practical techniques have shifted the original purpose of adult education. The shift has been evident through incapacity to advocate critical reflections, empowerment, and substantial social transformation; adult education has ceased from being a movement. The concerns are legitimate, and several scholars have addressed this, but the approach used in this paper will evaluate adult education through another perspective. Through the years and social advances, adult education has changed from a movement to a course; a course that can be positioned to champion other social movements.

Adult education is inundated with several accepted perspectives such as adult learners possessing substantial life experiences, and thus, adult education should focus on enhancing the experiences. The goal of adult education is not articulate, and often, opinions have differed concerning the rationale applied when educating adults. Traditionally, adult education purpose was founded in societal aspiration focused on nation-building and communism. According to Spencer and Langille (2014), the goal was relevant with the increased immigrants in rural Canadian areas during the early twentieth century. However, the purpose has faced changes in the contemporary world, and the economic purpose authorizes and aligns with personal development. The change has compelled a shift in crucial stakeholders funding adult education. Some key players perceive the shift as contrasting with the traditional purpose that included social change.

The History of Adult Education

Selman (1998) has highlighted several conditions that influenced the adult education in Canada resulting in it as a social movement. The conditions aligned with factors that were beneficial to Canada. Mechanics' Institute pioneered the movement although it was developed in Britain to supply skilled workers that had scientific and technical knowledge. The workers mastered the knowledge and capability to implement tasks but lacked the opportunity to explore the theory or science influencing the tasks. Department of Education in Ontario grasped the opportunity and invested in retraining and providin...

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