An Insight on Adult Education and Adult Learning

In EDUC 408 – Professional Development and lifelong learning, our professor Dr. Colleen Kawalilak wrote: Now that you have attended your first ‘Seminar’ and ‘Plenary’ class, reflect on an insight you have gained related to “adult education and adult learning.”Simply put, what is something you now understand that you might have never considered before…?”

I never considered adult education to be a discipline but rather something that spans all disciplines. In fact, the terminology we use to define this topic can be rather constraining. What do we mean by adult education? I prefer to use the term adult learning or life long learning over adult education, because I tend to associate the later with something adults do in very formal educational settings like university, college or continuing education courses, and most adult learning and growth occurs outside this context. Adult learning is something that happens anytime, anywhere, throughout the span of our lifetimes.

Prior to enrolling this class, I never appreciated the fact that adult education is shaped by a set of guiding beliefs, values, and philosophy; that it supports change within an individual group of people or society; and it is guided by a critical practice that is thoughtful and intentional (Kawalilak, 2012).

When Spencer (2006) was discussing Knowles five basic assumptions of andragogy: self-direction, drawing on experience, linking what you learn to current knowledge, problem-centered versus subject centered; and internal motivation, I thought of the shift that is happening in education today, away from stand and deliver instruction, to more personalized, self-directed, and student-driven learning. By examining the way adults learn we can take what we see as good learning strategies and apply them to our work with children in the classroom so that we foster life long learning in our students.

The days have long passed when people trained for a particular job and stayed with a company until retirement. Young people need to be flexible and adaptable to changing work conditions and be willing to retrain and acquire new knowledge and skills throughout their lifetime. Moreover, people are living longer now so the age of retirement is changing. Students who develop a love of learning at a young age will be better prepared and able to adapt to a changing world then those who feel that learning stops after high school.

Kawalilak, Colleen. EDUC 406 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning, Plenary 1, January 9, 2012.

Spender, B. (2006) The Purposes of Adult Education. Toronto, ON: Thompson  Educational Publishing, Inc.


About Barb English

I am a curious soul and lifelong learner who is currently employed as a teacher in a Special Education classroom with the Calgary Board of Education.
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