ADULT EDUCATION: AN OVERVIEW
Adult education has been defined many ways. In a broad
sense, the term means involvement by a person in learning
throughout a lifetime. This involvement can mean participation
in formal programs designed for adults, such as evening courses,
literacy classes, and lecture series, or informal learning
involvement, such as through a self-study effort or through
sponsorship of a church, community agency, or private group.
Some activities, such as training in business and industry, labor
union education, and military education, that can be either
formal or informal.
A definition preferred by many involves the inclusion of an
educational specialist who facilitates, directs, or provides
resources to adults in the pursuit of learning. The term "adult"
in such a definition usually refers to someone having assumed
financial and social responsibility for self and often for
others. This emphasis on adult education specialists has
resulted from a move to professionalize the field during the past
30-40 years. However, recent research activities have prompted
an additional meaning which highlights the potential within and
preference by many adults for considerable self-directed study.
Subsequently, the meaning of "adult education" continues to be in
a period of transition.
Many terms also have developed in the past two decades that
are used synonymous with or similar to adult education. Such
terms as recurrent education, education permanent, non-formal
learning, and continuing education can be found in worldwide
adult education literature.
developed in the mid l970's, "lifelong learning," often is used
interchangeably with adult education. In much of the rest of the
world a similar word, "lifelong education," is used to symbolize
not only education during the adult years, but also education
An important feature distinguishing adult education and
professional involvement worldwide regardless of terminology, is
the nature of participation. In many parts of the Western world,
adult learning usually is voluntary, meaning that participants
decide on content, duration, and format. Elsewhere, though,
frequently there is more state control over curriculum and
Breadth of the Adult Education Movement
Adult education, perhaps because of its lifelong learning
characteristics, is a phenomenon that truly is worldwide. In
fact, adults make up the most rapidly growing component of
education. Most third world countries utilize adult education to
improve literacy, to upgrade occupational competence, and for
community development. Most Socialist and Communist nations use
adult learning programs not only for literacy and national
development, but also for political indoctrination. The Western
world also uses adult education for some of the above reasons,
but most efforts are either for promoting personal improvement or
for helping participants cope with the rapidity of social change.
Organizations like UNESCO, the International Bureau of Education,
and the International Labor Organization promote various adult
education activities that bridge national borders and beliefs.
Several forces have come together during the past 25 years
to heighten the need for learning throughout life. A major force
has been the rapidity and constancy of change. A term introduced
in l970 labeled difficulties to cope with change as future shock.
More recently the miniaturization and expanding use of computers
has only served to heighten the social change being experienced
Another force, and related to the first, has been changes in
the nature of occupational requirements. The constancy of job
obsolescence, frequent requirement for retraining, and increases
in service occupations are some of the resulting features. Even
in underdeveloped and non-industrialized nations, efforts
frequently are made by international agencies or local
governments to use advanced technology in solving many local
developmental problems, thereby creating huge education and
A final force has been the fairly radical changes in life
styles being experienced throughout the world. For example, many
Asian countries are moving to emulate some Western world values.
Several Communist countries are having to cope with doctrine and
social approaches that have not lived up to initial expectations.
Many developing countries have experienced ever widening gaps
between the poor and the wealthy. In much of the Western world
an increase in longevity, a constant necessity to cope with
economic inflation, additional leisure, and increased levels of
education have all combined to create large needs for adult
Adults As Learners
A positive belief in personal ability to learn throughout life
appears to be an important by-product of
this growth in adult education. But this positive view wasn't
always present. It was deemed a major breakthrough in l928 when
American Edward Thorndike published research showing that
although learning ability peaked at about age 2l, the ability to
learn actually persisted thereafter. Others carried out research
with adults in the l930s and determined that declines in ability
were less than previously believed. In the l950s through
longitudinal research and improved test taking techniques which
removed speed of response, adults were found capable of gains
with age in certain conceptual thinking tests. Researchers since
then have refined this knowledge and generally report the
potential of intelligence and aptitude improvement throughout
The actual number involved annually in adult education is
difficult to determine because so many definitions of educational
participation exist. Estimates based on U.S. Census information
suggest that 20 million or more adults participate in a variety
of formalized adult education programs each year. Generally,
though, such numbers do not account for several additional
million involved in various informal learning activities.
Additionally, when the numbers engaged in self-directed study
through study circles, independent learning, learning exchanges,
and learning networks are included, the enormity of involvement
can be seen. Some researchers estimate that nine out of ten U.S.
adults annually engage in some form of learning endeavor. Many
other countries especially the developed nations, experience
similar involvement in learning by adults.
Such heavy involvement has not been limited just to younger
adults. In the
Participation by people older than 30 has increased, for example,
confirming that adult learning ability is continuous throughout
life. As one indicator, in l980 there were 750,000 people 35 and
older involved with programs at institutions of higher education.
By the year 2,000 it is projected that this figure will about
double. As another example the Elderhostel, a university-based
short course program for people over 60, was initiated in l975.
The program has grown
Elderhostel programs each year. Programming through community
colleges, university gerontology centers, senior centers, and
state or local aging commissions provide additional opportunities
for the older population. Continuing education programs for
women, the disadvantaged, and those requiring English as a second
language are other examples of more specialized programs gaining
popularity in recent times.
History of Adult Education
The history of adult involvement in learning dates back to
before words or symbols were recorded. As humans have progressed
up the evolutionary ladder there always has been a need to learn
new things throughout life, such as sharing new hunting skills,
adding to tribal lore, or discovering new uses of items in
nature's treasure chest.
The evolution of symbols, words, and languages most
certainly heightened the need for more formal adult education.
Historical figures like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and Jesus
spent considerable time in the education of adults. The
invention of the printing press also changed the course of human
history in some fundamental ways and provided an abundance of
The close of the l8th century saw adult education begin to
move from several centuries of primarily religious orientation to
a response to the advance of industrialization. In
this change also took on a flavor of concern by some for welfare
of the poor. Schools for Bible reading began to give way to
adult schools where the poor were taught to read. By the early
part of the l9th century Mechanics' Institutions were established
in the principal towns throughout
educational needs of working class people.
About this same time in
for a way to help Danes who had suffered various losses in the
Napoleonic Wars. He used as a vehicle the folk high school, an
institutional setting for farmers and artisans to become aware of
their country's rich history, culture, and language. There now
are some 90 folk schools in
are folk schools in other Nordic countries, the
many European countries, several
The development of public libraries in the mid-l800s, higher
education opportunities for adults that began around l900, the
Workers' Education Association designed for working class people
that began soon after that, and the Open University movement of
the mid l960s are additional
contributions. The world-wide interest in literacy training,
especially in developing countries, during the past three decades
is another important historical feature.
The History of Adult Education in the US
The US has experienced a rich history of adult education that
goes back to before the country was formed. Colonists in the
l6th century required various forms of adult education, such as
religious training, political education, and apprenticeship
opportunities, just to survive the rigors of settling and
establishing a new country.
Benjamin Franklin has been referred to by some as the actual
"father" of adult education. This multi-talented individual
counted among his many accomplishments the formation of a men's
discussion club in l727. Known as the "Junto," this club was
formed to explore through discussion a variety of intellectual
public library, and the American Philosophical Society are only
some of the institutions that can trace linkages to the Junto.
The growth of the country during the l9th century stimulated
considerable adult education innovations. It was within this
setting that the first daily newspapers and several magazines
were established. Although several universities had been
established prior to l800, they met primarily the educational
needs of only a few elite young people. The need to spread
information beyond the minds of these few was great enough that
in l830 the first series of popular lectures for adults was
offered by Yale Professor Benjamin Silliman. This "outreach"
idea spread and by the end of the century "university extension"
was a common feature of many higher education institutions.
Paralleling this university outreach was the thinking and
organizing by Josiah Holbrook of an innovative program.
Holbrook, initially an educator of youth, was influenced by
Silliman and became a
popular lecturer throughout
He helped to establish an educational society and nation-wide
network of local study groups. Referred to as "lyceums," members
met to hear lectures on a variety of issues, and to help create
educational institutions like libraries, museums, and public or
"common" schools. The first lyceum was started in l826 and by
l835 the movement peaked with about 3,500 local lyceums.
Toward the latter part of the l9th century some new forms of
adult education began to emerge. In l874 John Vincent helped to
Sunday school teachers. Its popularity grew quickly and many
participants other than religious teachers began to attend. A
subsequent broadening of the curriculum proved even more popular
and this rich heritage of classes, lectures, cultural offerings,
political discussions, and entertainment continues today. Some
interesting offshoots of the Chautauqua movement also developed.
The Chautauqua Literary
program and a monthly magazine existed from around l880 to l9l4.
Correspondence study and book-of-the-month reading clubs, too,
can be traced to Chautauqua.
Tent show chautauquas
were another progeny of the
Chautauqua influence. These traveling tent shows began in l903
when two enterprising lecture agents realized that a "circuit"
which brought lecturers, entertainment, and some culture to
people throughout the country would be quite popular and
profitable. Peaking in the l920s, these traveling chautauquas
eventually gave way to radio, movies, and changes prompted by the
The closing of the l9th and beginning of the 20th century
component of a healthy nation. In l862 the Morrill Act
established "Land Grant" Colleges of Agriculture and Mechanical
Arts in each state. In l887 the Hatch Act enabled agricultural
experimentation stations to be developed throughout the country.
The l9l4 Smith-Lever Act established an Agricultural Extension
Service as a vehicle to provide agricultural adult education in
every state. Thriving yet today but now known as the Cooperative
Extension Service, this organization provided to youth (through
its 4-H programs) and adults agricultural, family life, home
economics, leadership, and community development education.
During the first quarter of the l900s there were several
other significant adult education events. The Smith-Hughes Act
of l9l7 provided for vocational education through the public
schools for both youth and adults. The heavy influx of
immigrants needing to learn English and other skills also created
adult education needs. Their involvement in "Americanization
Programs" was an important impetus for the growth of public
school adult education. These primarily "evening" schools
typically experienced steady growth in participants throughout
the teens and twenties.
There also were established during this period two important
organizations concerned with professionalization of adult
education. In l924 the National Education Association created a
Department of Adult Education. In l926 the American Association
of Adult Education was created through initial financial support
by the Carnegie Corporation. Research on adult education, the
development of professional literature, and an annual conference
were important by-products of such groups. In l95l these two
groups were combined to form the Adult Education Association of
National Association of Public School Adult Educators (NAPSAE).
Gradual decline in public school adult education programs and the
emergence new roles and clientele resulted in a later name change
to the National Association of Public Continuing Education
(NAPCAE). To promote national unity and create a stronger
national voice for adult education, both AEA and NAPCAE merged in
l982 to form the now existing American Association of Adult and
Continuing Education (AAACE).
The federal government's role in adult education began to
accelerate during the l950s and 60s. The GI Bill of Rights
developed after WWII, expenditures for military education, and
involvement in labor force training through the l965 Manpower Act
represent some of this involvement. Interest in civil liberties,
social change, and providing greater opportunities to poorer
people that developed during the l960s also stimulated some adult
education efforts. The Economic Opportunity Act of l964 provided
funds for adult basic education (ABE), a program designed to
combat illiteracy problems. In l966 the Adult Education Act was
passed to provide support and leadership for the still existing
Finally, in l976 some federal legislation spearheaded by
Senator Walter Mondale was dubbed the Lifelong Learning Act. The
legislation, itself, was approved but funds were never
appropriated. However, the legislation drew considerable
attention to adult education, prompted new research and
literature, and helped facilitate some connections between adult
education activities in the
The Historical Heritage for Today's Adult Education Movement
Two important events took place during the l960s which
affected the direction of adult education in the
In l968 Malcolm Knowles, a professor of adult education,
introduced adult educators to the term, "andragogy." Andragogy as
a term to refer to teaching adults was not new, as several
countries such as Hungry,
educators, for example, place teaching and learning within a
system called "anthropogony," which is subdivided into pedagogy
(dealing with youth education) and andragogy (dealing with adult
education). The ideas foundational to andragogy created
considerable dialogue, debate, and scholarship by American adult
educators during the l970s and 80s, and perhaps did more to draw
attention to adult education than any other activity during the
Another event during the 60s was the beginning of a focus on
adults as potential self-directed learners. Cyril Houle, also a
professor of adult education, studied adult learning activity and
discovered three distinct learning orientations. This prompted
subsequent research by Allen Tough, a Canadian professor of adult
education, who substantiated that most adults determined they
frequently express preference for learning to be self-directed in
nature. The work of Houle and Tough spawned tremendous research,
literature, and debate that continues to today.
Professionalism of the Field
Adult education worldwide has undergone considerable
transformation during the past few decades. Changes in the
United States also have been quite remarkable in terms of not
only large numbers engaged in learning, but also the number
working in the field.
Who Are the Adult Educators?
It is not easy to describe those who consider themselves
to be adult educators as so many people now work in
some capacity with adult learners. In addition, many
adult education positions throughout the United States
are filled with capable and devoted people who do not have
a formal college degree or who have degrees in areas other than
adult education, including many volunteers, part-time adult
educators, and individuals for whom adult education
responsibility is only incidental to specialization in some other
area. No reliable estimate exists because of such definition
problems, but it is believed that as many as l0 million people
work with adult education on a part-time basis.
There are a variety of roles performed by people who
consider themselves to be professional adult educators, with
perhaps as many as 250,000 people making a full time living.
Continuing education administrators, in-service training
specialists in the medical field, adult education teachers,
professors of adult education, adult education counselors, and
trainers or consultants in human resource development are only a
few of the types of professionals that can be described. In
fact, currently adult education is a growth area in terms of
available professional positions.
Training of Adult Educators
The training of adult educators generally takes one of two
forms in North America. One form is university training,
typically at either the Masters or Doctoral level. The
first doctorates in adult education, for example, were
awarded in l935 by Teachers College of Columbia University.
However, in the twenty years prior to l955, only fifteen
U.S. colleges and universities had established adult
education graduate programs. It was at that point that some
sharing among these programs began to be formalized.
Subsequently, in l957 through a Kellogg Foundation grant the
Commission of Professors of Adult Education held its first formal
meeting on the
representing l5 universities were present. The organization has
grown steadily since then, to where currently there are some 250
members representing nearly l00 colleges and universities
adult education. In any given year thousands of individuals
graduate with a Masters degree and 200 or more graduate with a
Doctoral degree. Few undergraduate training opportunities in
adult education exist, although some experts suggest they will
become more prevalent in the future. Some other countries do
offer undergraduate training as well as graduate training.
Another form is the in-service training of individuals who
in some manner work with adult learners. This includes short-
term workshops, conferences, special institutes for teachers of
adults (often through local or state sponsorship), and federally-
Professionalization of adult education also has involved the
formation of many associations in the past two decades
representing some aspect of the adult education field. In
addition to AAACE described earlier which serves several thousand
adult educators through its national office or through various
affiliates, another large organization is the American Society
for Training and Development. ASTD has more than 30,000 people
affiliated with its national organization or local chapters.
There are nearly 200 professional associations, advisory
councils, and informational clearinghouses in the
in some way dealing with adult learners or professional adult
Scholarship in adult education also is quite extensive. For
example, the Adult Education Research Conference and the Lifelong
Learning Research Conference are only two of several national or
regional adult education research conferences held annually in
taking place. International conferences on adult education,
international faculty exchanges, and international study tours on
adult education topics take place each year. The number of
professional journals publishing information related to adult
education also grows steadily. Most countries, for example,
publish one or more adult education journals or magazines, often
international in scope. In
Quarterly and Lifelong learning are only two of approximately 30
journals related to adult education with a national readership.
Literature in the world related to adult education has grown
tremendously during the past 20 years. Thousands of books
broadly related to adult education can be found in a typical
university library. Some publishing companies now focus many of
their efforts just on adult education. Finally, there now exist
several annual writing awards for adult education literature.
Adult Education Programs in the United States
There are some similarities across national boundaries in
terms of available adult education programs. For example, most
countries have adult literacy campaigns. Job training programs
also exist most places. Other examples could be listed.
However, there frequently are programs specific to the cultural
heritage or special needs of any particular country. This i
certainly true for the
The constantly changing American society and fairly rapid
movement from a rural society to an urbanized nation in the past
30 or 40 years has resulted in a variety of specialized training
needs. Changes in family structures and differing life style
preferences also have created a variety of educational needs.
Adult education responses to such change have taken many
shapes and forms. One group of programs has been under federal
or national sponsorship. The oldest of these is the Federal
Extension Service. Linked to Cooperative Extension Services in
every state, the organization provides leadership and resources
aimed at a variety of adult needs. The Department of Education
is another sponsor of various programs or projects affecting
adults, such as adult basic education, English as a second
language, and continuing higher education. The
of Labor also provides leadership for adult training through such
programs as Job Corps, job retraining, and the Job Training
Partnership Act. A variety of national foundations, too, supply
national leadership and financial support for activities related
to the education of adults. Various other government agencies,
national organizations, and professional associations promote
various types of adult education efforts.
At the state level several agencies or organizations provide
support for adult education. For example, State Departments of
Education sponsor various programs related to such areas as
literacy training, vocational training, and adult education
designed for special populations. State-wide professional
organizations, foundations, and associations are other such
The local community typically is the largest provider of
adult education programs. Public schools, community education
programs, community colleges, universities, and vocational-
technical schools sponsor a variety of adult education programs.
Cooperative Extension, churches, labor unions, libraries,
museums, art galleries, proprietary schools, training divisions
in business and industry, voluntary agencies, social service
agencies, senior centers, and Y-programs are among the many other
community organizations providing adult education opportunities.
Some Special Issues
There are several special issues that need to be mentioned
for the reader attempting to understand adult education,
especially adult education in the
Marginality and Fragmentation
Even given the impressive number of American adult
education programs, participants, and professionals,
the majority of public dollar support for educational
still goes to the education of youth. On the other
hand, the pressures to provide education of various types for
adults mounts daily. This has created a situation where adult
education officials typically have to fight very hard for
adequate financial support; frequently, adult education programs
must pay for themselves or even make a profit for a parent
organization who in turn will utilize those monies for other than
Several Foundations have supported adult education in
various ways as a means of increasing the viability and priority
of the field. The Kellogg Foundation has been one of these
providing considerable support during the past three decades.
The Foundation's support has ranged from assisting to build
continuing education centers on college campuses initiated in
l95l to more recent efforts to bring some unity to the field. In
the l980s they provided support for three such projects: l) A
Lifelong Learning Leaders Retreat for representatives from 2l
professional adult education associations to develop various ways
of working together more effectively; 2) in cooperation with the
National University Continuing Education Association 40 leaders
from academe, business, government, and industry were brought
together to discuss future problems and opportunities for higher
education; 3) in cooperation with the
initial efforts have been made to establish a
Leadership Development in Adult and Continuing Education.
The formation of the American Association of Adult and
Continuing Education in l982 is another sign that the field may
be becoming less fragmented. In addition, organizations like the
International Council for Adult Education serve to provide some
overall coordination of adult education efforts.
The Problem of Illiteracy
Functional illiteracy among adults, or the inability of
an individual to use reading, writing and computational skills
in everyday situations, is a world-wide problem. In more
advanced developing nations like Argentina the rate is about
20 percent; it is about 80 percent in most African
countries. Unfortunately, the problem becomes more bleak each
year due to huge population growth, limited finances, and
inadequate food supplies to maintain even minimal health
The problem also is immense in the
though a l982 report by the U.S. Bureau of Census showed that 7l
percent of all Adults had earned a high school diploma, some 27
million adults cannot read and write well enough to fill out a
job application or understand the label on a bottle of medicine.
An additional 45 million read with only minimum comprehension and
an estimated 3.6 million adults speak English poorly or not at
all. Thus, more than 70 million adults are essentially
Unfortunately, all public and private literacy training
programs combined reach only about 4 million adults. In
addition, it is estimated that the number of those who cannot
read grows each year by more than two million. This situation
affects the country in many ways. One estimate puts the costs of
welfare and unemployment compensation due to illiteracy at 6
billion annually. The loss of personal dignity, self-respect,
and ability to provide for others is immeasurable. Unless
drastic corrective measures are taken soon, an all-out war on
illiteracy suggests one expert, two of every three Americans
could be functionally or marginally illiterate by the year 2000.
There are three primary means used in the past 20 years to
combat illiteracy. The first has been considerable amounts of
federal money, often supplemented by state support, for such
programs as adult basic education. Most major cities and many
smaller ones in American have ABE programs offered primarily
through the public schools and/or community colleges.
Unfortunately, monies spent seldom exceed l00 million nor reach
more than 2 million people annually.
Other literacy efforts have been mounted by two
organizations located in
through volunteer teachers. One is Literacy Volunteers of
America, Inc. (AVA), a national organization founded in l962 by
Ruth Colvin. It operates on the premise that well trained and
supported volunteers can become effective tutors of adults. In
the past several years, LVA has grown to more than 200 local
programs in most states. During that period, nearly l00,000
volunteers and dedicated professionals have helped improve the
abilities of more than l00,000 adults in basic reading and
English as a second language (ESL).
The second organization is Laubach Literacy International
(LLI). LLI was established in l955 to extend the work of
literacy pioneer Dr. Frank Laubach who had pioneered a system for
teaching some illiterate adults in the
l930s. His approach, adapted to hundreds of languages worldwide,
is still used today. Laubach Literacy Action was organized in
l968 by tutors in
communities. This volunteer membership arm of LLI has some
50,000 trained individuals who work in more than 600 communities.
Each year about 60,000 adults are helped with reading, writing or
The newest literacy effort is a Coalition for Literacy
formed in the early l980s.
The Coalition is a group of
organizations, including various professional associations,
literacy groups, and private businesses, working toward the
eradication of illiteracy. In the mid-l980s the group launched a
national multi-media ad campaign to focus national attention on
Several states also are increasing their literacy efforts.
their public libraries to establish literacy programs.
established a goal of reducing its 800,000 illiterates in half by
l990. Other states have made special efforts to reduce
illiteracy among special populations such as minorities or
incarcerated people. In addition, higher education institutions
have increased research and training related to illiteracy. It
is hoped these efforts may help reverse this national problem and
serve as a model for other nations.
Continuing Education for Women
The woman's movement during the past two decades has
affected the adult education field. To begin with, advanced
degrees awarded to American women increased dramatically
during the l960s and 70s according to the National
third of all Master's degrees awarded in the early 60s; that
figure had increased to more than half by the l980s. The
proportion of Phds earned by women increased similarly from l6 to
Women also make up slightly more than half of all
participants in continuing education programs. Several adult
education programs for women have been established around the
Center for the Continuing Education of Women. Saint Mary of the
Woods offers a women's
has a re-entry educational program for low income women. The
education program for women.
Training in Business and Industry
Some experts estimate that as many as 40 billion dollars
are expended annually in training efforts and that amount
may reach l0 percent of all corporate revenues by l990.
The constancy of change and technological development has
created a continual march by most adults toward occupational
obsolescence. Borrowing from nuclear physics the notion
of half-life, it is assumed that new information, technology,
and development constantly evolve such every 5-l0 years a person
becomes roughly half as competent to do the job for which
original training was intended. Subsequently, many adults
must turn to periodic educational experiences to maintain,
regain, or obtain new competence.
The response by organizations and professionals in the past
few years has been phenomenal. Training units, assessment
centers, job clubs, career counseling, apprenticeship
opportunities, workers' sabbaticals, and training by phone,
computer, and satellite are only some of the programs in
existence today. The numbers involved professionally as trainers
and consultants also has increased dramatically in recent years.
In addition, nearly 300
involved with preparing professionals for human resource
Federal legislators also are responding to the growth in
training activities. Such programs as the Job Training
Partnership Act, the Vocational Education Act, and the tax code's
employee educational assistance provisions provide some financial
support for training. Emerging federal legislative thinking
includes such ideas as providing tax credits for training, using
Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for retraining, and the
establishing individual training accounts patterned after the
Several trends with implications for adult education appear
to be emerging.
The American Citizenry is becoming older. Today's newborn
can expect to live nearly 75 years. Males who are 65 today can
expect to live to age 80. Women 65 years old can expect to live
another 19 years. Also, as was noted earlier many older people
are expecting and even demanding more educational opportunities.
Add to this the fact that the population overall is achieving
ever higher educational levels, time for leisure is increasing,
and learning needs of various special populations are increasing,
it appears likely pressures for more education throughout life
will become even greater. Subsequently, demand for both adult
education programs and trained adult education professionals
is likely to grow in the future.
Another apparent trend is the development of various
community-based programs that typically are independent from
governmental or traditional adult education agencies.
Frequently known as grass roots operations, the missions and
operation of such programs usually are in the hands
of participants, themselves. In other words, participants
become empowered to act on their own behalf.
One such example is the Highlander Research and Education
in New Market,
Horton in 1932 as the
has been active in various social issues since then. Its
dedication to the belief that poor, working-class adults can take
charge of their lives and circumstances has been a growing
inspiration to the empowerment notion. Subsequently,
organizations like the National Congress of Neighborhood Women,
universities use a wide variety of educational techniques in
helping people meet their own educational needs.
The Haves and the Havenots
There is one final trend to be mentioned here with
implications for adult education. There appears to be
developing in the United States, as exists in many
other countries, very real divisions between what has been called
by some the "haves" and the "havenots." The growing affluence of
some (for examples, the "yuppies" of the mid-80s) in contrast
with the declining purchasing power of others as exemplified by
illiteracy and unemployment are creating the potential for
clashes of values and expectations. Thus, a potentially large
task for future adult educators may well be to not only help with
problems of job training and illiteracy, but also with values
clarification, communication, and the empowerment of people.
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