What is adult education?

What is adult education? Is adult education a practice or a program? A methodology or an organization? A ‘science’ or a system? A process or a profession? See also: What is education? A definition and discussion Is adult education a practice or a program? A methodology or an organization? A ‘science’ or a system? A process […]

Adult education and lifelong learning – southern critiques and alternatives

Adult education and lifelong learning – southern critiques and alternatives. What can northern educators learn from the experience of the south? A review and introductory reading list. Contents: context · resisting colonialism · respecting local forms · looking to the whole rather than the individual · implications for the north  · references · how to […]

Adult Education Committee (1919) Voluntary organizations and adult education

Chapter VII of the famous 1919 Report on adult education. [page 112] 202. It will not, we think, be denied that adult non-vocational education has owed its main inspiration and the success it has attained to voluntary organisations of various kinds, and particularly those established for educational purposes. Whilst we frankly recognise the part which […]

Adult schools and the making of adult education

Adult schools and the making of adult education. The adult school movement starting in the late 1790s, while for most of the time only small in numbers, was a significant element in the making of adult education in Britain. This article briefly surveys the history and impact of such schools. contents: introduction · the emergence […]

Adult schools: The organization of the class – J. Wilhelm Rowntree and Henry Bryan Binns

Westminster Friends Meeting House on St Martin’s Avenue had its own adult school with an entrance on Hop Alley In this (1903) piece J. Wilhelm Rowntree and Henry Bryan Binns examine the nature of teaching in adult schools in the early twentieth century and recognize the significance of democracy, fellowship and ‘systematic husbandry’. contents: preface […]

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning?

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning? The notion of andragogy has been around for nearly two centuries. It became particularly popular in North America and Britain as a way of describing adult learning through the work of Malcolm Knowles. But what actually does it mean, and how useful a […]

Charles Dickens and informal education

Charles Dickens and informal education. Already the most famous English novelist when Victoria came to the throne, he continued to chronicle his age and became an important facilitator of self-education. Charles Dickens (1812-70).  Critical success came to Dickens quite early in life. The Pickwick Papers was published in 20 monthly installments beginning in 1836; Oliver […]

Education and civic life

Tom Bryan’s (1912) paper was an important statement of education involving the whole person and looking to solidarity and association. contents: preface · introduction · education as the development of faculties through knowledge · education as development of the whole person · education for solidarity and association · how to cite this piece Tom Bryan […]

Educational settlements

Educational settlements. Mark Freeman explores the development of educational settlements in Britain and the significant role that Quakerism played. He also outlines some of the key issues they have faced. Contents: introduction · origins of the educational settlement movement · the role of educational settlements · educational settlements in the ‘special areas’ · crisis and […]

Informal, non-formal and formal education programmes

In this piece Paul Fordham explores the emergence of the influential typology of education programmes as informal, non-formal and formal. The notions are considered in relation to the concern to foster economic development. Particular attention is paid to the characteristics of non-formal education in relation to participation, purposes and methods. Debates around ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ […]

Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy

Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy. A champion of andragogy, self-direction in learning and informal adult education, Malcolm S. Knowles was a very influential figure in the adult education field. Here we review his life and achievements, and assess his contribution. contents: introduction · malcolm knowles – life · adult informal education · […]

Ruth Kotinsky on adult education and lifelong learning

Ruth Kotinsky made a number of important contributions to educational thought in the United States. Of particular interest was her exploration of adult education as an aspect of the social scene. contents: introduction • life and contribution • adult education and the social scene • conclusion • further reading and references • acknowledgements • how […]

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning. Lifelong learning – along with ideas such as ‘the learning society’ – has become popular with politicians and policymakers in a number of countries. But what do people mean by it? Is the idea of lifelong learning helpful? Contents: · education is life · lifelong education · lifelong learning · conclusion · further […]

Lifespan development and lifelong learning

Lifespan development and lifelong learning. ‘Development’ is one of those familiar concepts that seeps almost unnoticed into the conversations of educators. They are self-evidently concerned with the development of people. But what is development? Are there particular stages that we pass through in our life course? Contents · introduction · development · stages · gender, […]

Eduard C. Lindeman and the meaning of adult education

Eduard C. Lindeman and the meaning of adult education. Perhaps best known today for his work in adult education, Eduard C. Lindeman (1885 – 1953) also wrote one of the first books on community development, was an early explorer of groupwork and worked to extend popular education. In this piece, we explore his life and […]

Howard McClusky and educational gerontology

Howard McClusky and educational gerontology. The development of interest, knowledge, and professional involvement in educational gerontology has been evolutionary. Roger Hiemstra explores Howard McClusky’s advocacy of limitless human potential throughout life and, in particular, his ‘theory of margin’ – the need to balance in the later years those stresses and demands (load) on a person […]

Michael Newman, adult learning, social action and activist education

Michael Newman, adult learning, social action and activist education. Michael Newman’s work and writing has, for many years, offered an important, grounded and refreshing alternative to much of what has passed as the mainstream in adult education and lifelong learning. In this piece we explore his contribution and the possibilities it offers for ‘activist educators’. […]

Julius Nyerere, lifelong learning and education

Julius Nyerere, lifelong learning and education. One of Africa’s most respected figures, Julius Nyerere (1922 – 1999) was a politician of principle and intelligence. Known as Mwalimu or teacher he had a vision of education and social action that was rich with possibility. contents: introduction · ujamma, socialism and self reliance · education for self-reliance […]

what is praxis?

Few educators speak of praxis. Those that do tend to link it to the work of Freire. Yet while praxis may not be part of many workers overt vocabulary, practice, a pale derivative, is. So what is praxis and why should educators be concerned with it? contents: · theory and practice · practical reasoning · […]

Radical community education

Tom Lovett explores the development of radical community education and explores different models of practice. Different models of recent work are reviewed and some ways forward suggested. This article was first published in 1994. Contents: introduction • historical and international background • The American Labour Movement • Highlander • The Antigonish Movement  • The WEA […]

Oscar Romero of El Salvador: informal adult education in a context of violence

Oscar Romero of El Salvador: informal adult education in a context of violence. John Dickson explores Oscar Romero’s place and impact as a socially involved educator. He examines key aspects of the social and historical background; the means and extent of Oscar Romero’s teaching ministry; and Romero’s confrontation with the dilemma facing all authentically revolutionary […]

Self-directed learning

Stephen D. Brookfield explores the notion of self-directed learning. He takes Knowles’ (1975) influential definition as a starting point and then explores some of the problems surrounding the idea. Brookfield highlights two particular characteristics that move the discussion from a technical to a critical realm: authentic control, and access to resources. He argues that it […]

Settlements and adult education

Settlements and adult education. What is the shape of adult education and lifelong learning is settlements? How has it developed? Mark K. Smith investigates. Contents: introduction • the nature of adult education in settlements • la vie associative • current practice • liberal and basic education • vocational and professional training • social pedagogy and […]

Social education

James Hole (1860) fascinating discussion of social education, Chapter VIII of “Light, More Light!” On the present state of education amongst the working classes of Leeds, London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, pages 107-125. [Page 107] THERE are some agencies which, though they cannot be classed as schools, have an educational influence of the most […]

Henry Solly and the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union

Founder of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union and a great propagandist for clubs, Henry Solly provided a much needed conceptual clarity to the notion of club work. He also was an important advocate for the extension of working-class political rights and helped to set up the Charity Organization Society. contents: introduction · involvement […]

Richard Henry Tawney, fellowship and adult education

Richard Henry Tawney was a noted economic historian, democratic socialist and educator. Here we make a brief assessment of his contribution as an adult educationalist – and his strong belief in fellowship. contents: introduction and life · equality· association and the dispersion of power · social function · democratic citizenship · fellowship · adult education […]

Walking for real

Walk 1: Exploring informal education. The development of thinking and practice through a walk in central London The next guided walk is to be arranged. The walk is free and takes about two and a half hours. The walk will be led by Mark K. Smith. We start at the bandstand in Victoria Embankment Gardens […]

Walking informal education – exploring developments in central London

Walking informal education. Walking in central London we can find many places associated with key figures and moments in the making of informal education. Explore them through a virtual (or real) walk. The walk: Embankment • The Strand • Covent Garden • Trafalgar Square • St Martin’s Lane and Five Dials • Soho and Chinatown • […]

Raymond Williams and education – a slow reach again for control

Raymond Williams and education – a slow reach again for control. Raymond Williams was a literary critic, cultural historian, cultural and political theorist, novelist, dramatist, and the virtual inventor of the interdisciplinary field known as ‘cultural studies’. Josh Cole explores his little appreciated contribution as an educational thinker. Contents: introduction · early encounters with community […]

Basil Yeaxlee, lifelong learning and informal education

A key, but overlooked figure, Basil Yeaxlee wrote the first book on lifelong education; argued that informal education was as significant as formal; and explored the spiritual nature of education contents: introduction and life · the YMCA and the huts · the 1919 report · spiritual values in adult education · Basil Yeaxlee, lifelong education and […]