Sociology and Adult Education
Many believe that vessel education and training that that the very foundation of success. A strong educational background can help any individual branch into new opportunities, where individual goals and community goals are intimately intertwined. In addition to traditional education facilities, the United States has a prominent adult education industry which helps bring academic practices and continuous learning to individuals already within a working environment. Essentially, adult education helps empower both the individual and the community through a continual closure to new and useful information that continuously pushes the individual towards more progressive action.
There is a wide variety of types of adult education offers within mainstream American society today. Essentially, what sets adult education apart from traditional educational program is the fact that adults are already within the workforce are returning to an educational civility in order to train on some potentially lucrative element of a future position or to gain knowledge on something that would benefit them within their daily lives, like foreign nationals continuing their studies in English. A number of sources claim that the individual can be considered an adult when that “individual perceives herself or himself to be essentially responsible for her or his own life” (Merriam & Brockett 2007 p 5). Thus adult education focuses on providing learning opportunities for students who are arty which her look or deep been exposed to the workplace. The whole process of adult education within contemporary American society has been an evolving process. It has been incredibly particular “to the adult status of students” and “the notion of the activity being purposeful or planned,” meaning that the educational facility is one which is premeditated and not conducted within the context of everyday experiences (Merriam & Brockett 2007 p 7). Some elements of adult education are known as continuing education. These educational programs often offer literacy, management or other business services, and a wide variety of other genres available for adult the study in order to better their current mission within their employment, or lack thereof. Essentially, the main goal of adult education is to improve the quality-of-life an adult is already experiencing. Further education can only mean further opportunity within one’s current working position, or at a different level or organization. Thus, “adult education is an intervention into the ordinary business of life — an intervention’s immediate goal is change, in knowledge or incompetence” (Merriam & Brockett 2007 p 7). The policies and procedures of most adult education programs aim to empower already working individuals on a time span that works with a full-time occupation. Even more innovative, many adult education facilities have implemented new developments in technology as a way to increase the scope and availability of adult education within the modern social landscape. New technologies are essentially increasing the range and availability of adult education to a wider range of the American public. For example, distance learning has been crucial to the influx of adult learners within the American environment (Hopey 1999). Online applications have allowed the continuous evolution of distance learning within adult education. Today, almost all adult learning facilities have some form of distance learning that is often revolving around online applications. This empowers individuals to continue their learning and academic goals on their own time, and therefore in synergy with their full-time work schedules. Some resistance to adult learning practices. These accommodating elements of contemporary adult education programs that are offered help make the entire process of adult education easier for those individuals trying to better their quality of life and positions within the organizations they work for. Here, the data shows that “individuals appear to meet general pressure for engaging in lifelong learning very different feelings” (Weber 113). Thus, with all the accommodations available within the context of adult education many students are finding new possibilities in continuing their learning and academic experiences as a way to further their individual professional and academic goals.
Empowering individuals is a major element of how adult education is supposed to function within contemporary society. There are two basic theoretical perspectives which understand how adult education empowers the individual. First, there is the concept of functional theory. In this sense, Adult Education helps create a situation where the individual gains tools and insight and therefore increases their own functioning within the larger society. Here, the research states that “Adult Education is believed to foster empowerment by equipping people with the skills needed to obtain higher wage employment, to improve their health, to their children succeed academically, and to perform other functional tasks,” (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 209). However, this functional role of adult education is often limited in terms of its view of power relations and individual roles within a larger society, like gender or ethnic roles. From a psychological perspective, adult education increases self-esteem and confidence, therefore creating a stronger individual who can do more to improve their own lives. Thus, adult education focuses on “giving individuals a voice” which they can use to increase their own capabilities within the society (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 210). These are often the product of education organizing, which focuses on individual goals that meet academic demands and requirements. Adult Education often is shown by the research to increase individual self-esteem and provides a stronger sense of confidence and capacity so that the individual can take greater forces of action within their own lives and in the lives of the community around them. Prins and Drayton (2010) argue that “adult education programs often seek to overcome learners low self-esteem — a common obstacle to empowerment — by building their self-confidence and sense of the possible” (p 216). By strengthening the psychological well-being of the individual, adult education empowers that individual. Easy to access and understand classes and other educational resources are often provided either free or at a low cost to community members and focus on increasing “community organization and civic participation” in order to make the communities voice heard and push them further towards their progressive goals (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 211). Essentially, adult education is the locator for improvement of life and livelihood. The knowledge gained from additional education helps the individual adapt to changing technologies and therefore guarantee a higher rate of employment compared to the individual fails to upgrade his or her knowledge of the profession chosen. According to the research, “The provision of education throughout the whole of the lifespan may help the learner to satisfy a basic human need, especially in a rapidly changing world in which the individual may be posing many questions of meaning” (Jarvis 37). Adult Education helps increase the ability of the individual to adapt to new environments because new training is consistently available through the educational facilities offered. Thus, individuals continue with Adult Education will likely have a better chance of employment in a wide variety of industries and positions compared to those who failed to utilize community efforts to educate individuals. Adult education tends to emphasis self-direction through individualism gained by empowerment through knowledge (Brookfield 1993). A common trend within current adult education has been the empowerment of teaching English to those workers who had previously gone without learning the language of the mainstream culture in the society they live in.
There is a strong influence on providing educational programs to teach literacy and language skills to adults already in the working world looking to increase their potential roles within society. In fact, the research shows that “millions have been taught to read through national literacy campaigns,” even at adult ages (Merriam & Brockett 2007 p 260). Such statistics to prove how successful Adult Education strategies are in terms of providing working adults was additional augmented knowledge of an ever-changing workplace.
Still, adult education often suffers from the same prejudices and disadvantages as traditional education facilities do. Racism and racial stereotypes can be a problem within any American institution. However, they are often prevalent within adult education facilities because there is a connotation that individuals of lower socioeconomic statuses are unable to absorb the same types of information individuals of higher classes would be. Therefore, many minority groups are offered less opportunities in terms of adult education programs and facilities. It is clear that there is discrimination within various forms of adult education has proven to have a detrimental impact on its overall connotations. Racism is seen within the structure of adult education, as it is within almost every American institution. Still, issues of various subgroups within society have begun to gather more support in the adult educational world, therefore allowing for the potential of greater individual and community empowerment. Porting to the research “Multiculturalism, gender, and sexual orientation have begun to receive increasing attention in the field of adult dictation, along with the impact of these factors on the teaching-learning context,” (Sheared et al. 2010 p 100). Thus, the more prevalent adult education is becoming within the contemporary workforce, the more open it is to different members of racial, class, or gender group.
Today, adult education can be a method of empowerment for individuals and groups that reside just outside the majority group’s characteristics. Practices of adult education can help empower members of certain racial groups gather acknowledgment and actively move towards a more progressive stance within the larger community. A lot of efforts to educate adults here in the United States aim to help improve general literacy of particular minority groups that do not speak English as their first language (Prins & Drayton 2010). The power of language is incredible, and when one cannot use that power to progress oneself and one’s community, one will be a clear disadvantage within the larger mainstream culture. Merriam and Brockett (2007) posit the idea that “is there a to ensure that the voices of those people who have traditionally been marginalized due to race, sex, or lifestyle factors are fully engaged in the learning process,” (p 157). Still, there is the need to be racially and ethnically sensitive in program emphasizing adult education (Sheared et al. 2010). No programs of adult education will ever be successful within subgroups of the mainstream culture if those educational programs do not incorporate cultural elements of the subgroups looking to further their knowledge within particular industries or in terms of general knowledge to increase their capabilities as a whole. Socioeconomic status can also see direct measures of improvement through increased education and knowledge as a result of entering into adult education programs. Essentially, education can prove a major benefit to members of various socioeconomic classes. Within the context of lower socioeconomic classes, education can prove lifesaving endeavor that gives rise to the possibility of socioeconomic mobilization.
Moreover, practices within adult education have continued to progress the gap between gender stereotypes. According to the research, “Adult Education can equip women and men to challenge gender hierarchies” (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 210). Adult education provides women with the tools needed to survive within the capitalist environment. Therefore, Adult Education aims to challenge the structural conditions of society that has generated such staunch stereotypes based on gender roles for so long. In our society, “learning is biologically and socially determined and that the brain processes information a unique way, and the interaction of individuals and their environment impact their learning,” (Farer 2010 p 378). Elements of gender stereotypes are learned socially at a very young age, and are prompted in a way that reinforces them. Modern trends in adult education aimed to educate both male and female individuals. This creates a situation where the educational environment equal to both genders. Yet, current strategies in adult education are still fighting against very entrenched gender stereotype. Gender learning begins well before adulthood, with young individuals being exposed to gender stereotypes and encouraged to embody them (Farmer 2010). Gender is essentially a social construction, and we are taught specific gender roles at a very young age. Little girls are taught to play with dolls, while little boys enjoy playing with miniature tanks and fake guns. The stereotypes embody the gender discrimination within Western societies. In the past, “men tended to have more years of education than women and to be from higher income households” (Winkley et al. 1992 p 817). Yet this gender limited environment, current adult education “need to help learners renegotiate their personal and social identities” (Farmer 2010 p 377). Today, programs within larger adult educational facilities are offered to both men and women. This provides an additional level of training that women can use to gain a stronger foothold within the contemporary workplace. Farmer (2010 states that “women now constitute the majority of workers and formal adult education learners in the United States,” (p 377). Ting you’ll devotion of the female working population towards additional educational opportunities will only continue to place women at a greater advantage within the contemporary work environment. This is essentially empowering individual female to take on greater roles within the workplace, and therefore generate greater self-esteem within an environment that was previously dominated by men.
At the same time, Adult Education can work on empowering entire communities as well. Essentially, adult education helps empower individuals and communities to take greater action to improve the quality of life. Thus, the “popular education of the poor collected action,” (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 209). The third and final perspective discussed by Prins and Drayton (2010) examines power structures within the social foundation of today’s contemporary culture. Known as the critical perspective, this theory posits that “empowerment means understanding the causes of injustice and taking action to create more equitable conditions, not only individually but especially in concert with others,” (p 210). Adult education within the community-based perspective can come in the form of either in former or formal teaching as a way to increase the group’s position in terms of balance of social justice and individual representation within politics and legislation. Often times, informal education of adults and still prove a powerful tool in generating groups to move towards progressive change. Here, the research illustrates that “empowerment oriented organizations all use non-formal education as a tool for supporting marginalized groups’ struggle for social justice in their respective communities and society,” (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 211). These educational efforts are most often not to serve personal goals for educational attainment, but rather the education of an entire community in order to help motivated community towards a specific political or social goal. Prins and Drayton (2010) postulate that Adult Education focuses on efforts necessary “to equip citizens to solve community problems” (p 212). A number of minority groups can motivated to act and challenge established social conditions in order to increase the well-being of the individuals within such groups. This reigns true for both minority groups based on ethnicity or race, but also as well as gender minorities. Feminist movements have often focused on grassroots efforts to bring educational resources to a number of women within the community in order to help support women’s rights.
However, issues of race and ethnicity have often been at the forefront of focusing on bringing elements of adult education to communities of minority groups. In this, adult education can be seen as empowering groups of minorities based on either race or socioeconomic statuses to pull their efforts together in order to come together in pursuit of a common and mutually beneficial goal for the entire community at large. Through actively providing education to the community, particular goals and issues gain greater acceptance and power through greater community involvement. Therefore, adult education can be intimately tied to political activism as community politics often relies on the process of educating the public in order to gain further support from the very people that are being educated by the effort. Essentially, empowering the community is also working to empower the individual. Here the research shows that “empowerment occurs through community organizing and development activities whereby citizens begin to exercise more control over decisions that affect them” (Prins & Drayton 2010 p 210).
Yet it is an unfortunate reality to see so many problems with funding in Adult Education programs, especially within a harsh financial environment like today, where budget cuts are an everyday reality. Tight financial times have always been a tough environment for the successful adaptation of effective adult educational practices. As Seekins (1991) showed in a different financial downturn that the current international recession plaguing a number of industries around the world, state budgets often turn to the cutting of adult education programs before any other educational organizations get budget cuts. The contemporary environment is increasingly cut funding for adult education, causing uproar within many academic communities based on the fact that denying a very vulnerable population of workers the necessary information to stay relevant within the modern workplace.
Overall, adult education provides an opportunity for individuals already in the workplace to increase the scope and variety of their skills and therefore maintain relevancy and competitiveness within a contemporary work environment. In this, adult education empowers the individual both psychologically and functionally. Still, adult education also empowers local communities. By educating the adults of the communities, local government or other grassroots initiatives can gain support for political causes and help empower individuals through increased protection of civil liberties.
Brookfield, Stephen. (1993). Self-directed learning, political clarity, and the critical practice of adult education. Adult Education Quarterly, 43(4). Web. http://www.nl.edu/academics/cas/ace/facultypapers/StephenBrookfield_Learning.cfm?RenderForPrint=1
Farmer, Lesley S.J. (2010). Gender impact on adult education. Information Communication Technologies and Adult Education. IGI Global. P 377-394.
Hopey, Christopher. (1999). Technology and adult education: Rising expectations. Adult Education, 10(4), 26-27.
Jarvis, Peter. (2004). Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. 3rd ed. Routledge Falmer.
Merriam, Sharan B. (2007). The Profession and Practice of Adult Education: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons.
Prins, Esther & Drayton, Brendaly. (2010). Adult education for the empowerment of individuals and communities. Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Carol E. Kaswom, Amy D., & Jovita Ross-Gordon (Eds). Sage Publications.
Sheared, Vanessa; Johnson-Bailey, Juanita; Colin, Scipio A.J.; Peterson, Elizabeth; Brookfield. Stephen D. (2010). The Handbook of Race and Adult Education: A Resource Dialogue on Racism. John Wiley & Sons.
Seekings, Brenda. (1991). State budget cuts affect adult education programs. Bangor Daily News. Web. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2457&dat=19910814&id=fqJJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Ww0NAAAAIBAJ&pg=3567,3608363
Weber, Kirsten. (2010). Aggression, recognition, and qualification: On the social psychology of adult education in everyday life. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 1(2010), 113-129.
Winkley, Marilyn A.; Jatulis, Darius; Frank, Erica; & Fortmann, Stephen P. (1992). Socioeconomic status and health: How education, income, and occupation contribute to risk factors for cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Public Health, 82(6), 816-821.
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