||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2011)|
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (May 2009)|
Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education takes place in the workplace, through "extension" school (e.g. Harvard Extension) or "school of continuing education" (Columbia School of Continuing Education). Other learning places include community colleges, folk high schools, colleges and universities, libraries, and lifelong learning centers. The practice is also often referred to as "Training and Development" and is often associated with workforce or professional development. It has also been referred to as andragogy (to distinguish it from pedagogy). Adult education is different from vocational education, which is mostly workplace-based for skill improvement; and also from non-formal adult education, including learning skills or learning for personal development.
In 1926, the American Library Association study Libraries and Adult Education was published and the association established the Board on Library and Adult Education (later the Adult Education Board) with reports in the ALA Bulletin. The concept of the library as an agency of ongoing education for adults became firmly established in US society. In her historical review of libraries and adult education, Margaret E. Monroe (1963: 6) identified a variety of library services provided by libraries to adults during the first half of the twentieth century that incorporated aspects of adult education. Many libraries have a literacy center, either within their community or in the building; others offer on-site tutoring for adults, or at least space for tutors to meet with students. Family literacy programs are also quite popular within libraries and schools. The US Institute of Museum and Library Services helps create vibrant, energized learning communities recognizing that "Our achievement as individuals and our success as a democratic society depends on learning continually, adapting to change readily, and evaluating information critically."
Programs provide one-to-one tutoring and small group sessions for adults at the 6th grade level or below. Public libraries, nonprofit organizations and school systems administer these programs across the country. Many adult education centers from community colleges receive grants from Welfare and Unemployment departments to offer training to welfare and unemployment recipients to help these individuals gain life and work skills to facilitate their return to the mainstream. They also provide programs for ex-offenders to reintegrate to society.
Educating adults differs from educating children in several ways. One of the most important differences is that adults have accumulated knowledge, work experience or military service that can add to the learning experience. Another difference is that most adult education is voluntary, therefore, the participants are generally better motivated. So researcher André Lemieux (Université du Québec à Montréal) pointed out that the learning of wisdom should be the focus of future university programs to educate the elderly in one of his research.
Adults frequently apply their knowledge in a practical fashion to learn effectively. They must have a reasonable expectation that the knowledge recently gained will help them further their goals. One example, common in the 1990s, was the proliferation of computer training courses in which adults (not children or adolescents), most of whom were office workers, could enroll. These courses would teach basic use of the operating system or specific application software. Because the abstractions governing the user's interactions with a PC were so new, many people who had been working white-collar jobs for ten years or more eventually took such training courses, either at their own whim (to gain computer skills and thus earn higher pay) or at the behest of their managers.
In the United States, a more general example, and stereotypical, is that of the high-school dropout who returns to school to complete general education requirements. Most upwardly mobile positions require at the very least a high school diploma or equivalent. A working adult is unlikely to have the freedom to simply quit his or her job and go "back to school" full time. Public school systems and community colleges usually offer evening or weekend classes for this reason. In Europe this is often referred to as "second-chance", and many schools offer tailor-made courses and learning programs for these returning learners.
Those adults who read at the very lowest level get help from volunteer literacy programs. These national organizations provide training, tutor certification, and accreditation for local volunteer programs. States often have state organizations such as Literacy Florida!Inc., which provide field services for volunteer literacy programs.
In the USA, the equivalent of the high-school diploma earned by an adult through these programs is to pass the General Education Development (GED) exam.
Another fast-growing sector of adult education is English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), also referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Language Learners (ELL). These courses are key in assisting immigrants with not only the acquisition of the English language, but the acclimation process to the culture of the United States.
A common problem in adult education in the US is the lack of professional development opportunities for adult educators. Most adult educators come from other professions and are not well trained to deal with adult learning issues. Most of the positions available in this field are only part-time without any benefits or stability since they are usually funded by government grants that might last for only a couple of years.
- Adult high school
- Bullying in adult education
- Community college in Canada and the United States
- Community Education in Scotland
- Continuing education
- Dialogue education
- Distance learning
- Environmental adult education
- Folk high school in Scandinavia and Germany
- Folkbildning community education through learning circles in Scandinavia
- Life skills
- Lifelong learning
- International Society for Comparative Adult Education
- Open University
- Part-Time Learner
- Remedial education
- Scuola serale in Italy
Adult education by geographic region
Historical adult education
- McCook, Kathleen de la Peña (2011). Introduction to Public Librarianship, p. 50. Neal-Schuman.
- Monroe, Margaret E. 1963. Library Adult Education: The Biography of an Idea. New York: Scarecrow Press.
- Roehrig, L. (2010). "The ABC's of Adult Ed." Library Journal (1976), 135 (10), 48-51.
- "Post-Formal Thought in Gerontagogy or Beyond Piaget".
- "Adult English Language Instruction". Retrieved 11 December 2012.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Adult education.|
- International Council for Adult Education (ICAE)
- European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA)
- Adult Literacy Education (USA)
- The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (USA)
- UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL)
- National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL U.S.)
- Adult Education in Ireland
- American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)
- BBC Adult Learners resources
- Database of Adult Education Courses in Ireland