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 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 […]

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 […]

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 · […]

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 […]

The theory and rhetoric of the learning society

The theory and rhetoric of the learning society. The idea of the learning society has featured strongly in recent pronouncements around adult and lifelong learning. But what actually is the learning society? How have notions of the learning society developed. We the theory and rhetoric of the learning society and provide an introductory guide and […]

William Lovett on education: Extracts from Chartism – a new organization of the people

Sharing something of a similar political tradition to Robert Owen – but coming a different social position – William Lovett – has a significant place in the development of ideas around schooling and lifelong learning. Here we reproduce extracts from Chartism – A New Organization of the People (1840) – written with John Collins ____________ William […]

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 […]

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 […]

‘Race’ and difference – developing practice in lifelong learning

‘Race’ and difference – developing practice in lifelong learning. What strategies are used to deal with ‘race’ and difference in lifelong learning? How is theory and practice to be developed? Contents: ‘race’ and ethnicity · multiculturaism and anti-racism · culture · culture and agency · voice and difference · further reading bell hooks begins her […]

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-direction in learning

Self-direction in learning. Many books and articles about lifelong learning talk glibly about self direction. Too often this idea is seen as unproblematic – an obvious good. But things are not quite as they seem. Contents: Tough – self education and learning projects · product and process ·  Knowles – process and the rationale for […]

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 […]

Social capital and lifelong learning

Social capital and lifelong learning. We know very little about the way that people’s networks affect their access to learning. John Field examines the evidence concerning links between social capital and lifelong learning. Contents: introduction · social capital and human capital and lifelong learning · lifelong learning and social capital – exploring possibilities  · conclusion […]

Allen Tough, learning projects and lifelong learning

Allen M. Tough, learning projects and lifelong learning. Allen Tough deepened our appreciation of lifelong learning through his studies of the ways in which adults conduct learning projects as part of everyday life. Here we examine his contribution. Under construction Allen M. Tough (1936-2012) is best known for his research and writing around the processes […]

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 • […]

George Williams and the YMCA

George Williams and the YMCA. George Williams and the small group of other young men who set up the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) had a great belief in what they were doing – but they probably have been amazed at the scale and scope of the worldwide movement that emerged. Here we examine the […]

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 […]