FOUNDING OF THE AEA OF THE
2003 Hall of Fame Conference
Roger Hiemstra, Professor, Adult Education;
It was with great pleasure that I undertook this project. Like most of you here today, my plate is always overflowing. Finding time for another task is not easy, but this conference was the perfect excuse for taking the time to do what I enjoy, historical research. You probably have to have carried out historical research yourself to understand why a person says he likes digging through dusty and dank old manuscripts, but there is just something about the thrill of finding some new fact, unraveling the unknown, and coming up with those epiphanies that make it all worthwhile (see Hiemstra, 2003, to examine some historical records stored electronically).
Added to that for me was an opportunity to delve even more deeply into the life of my mentor, Howard McClusky. I have written about his illustrious career several times before (Hiemstra, 1980, 1981, 1993, 1998), but I have never spent so much time looking at a particular period in his life. It truly was a labor of love.
I actually had the good fortune of spending some quality time with
all three of these honored Hall of Famers. I met
Cy Houle first. In early 1966 while a County Extension Agent in
I sent in my applications and then drove to
I had also applied to the
I did very well on my Masters and was encouraged by my major professor,
Roger Lawrence, to apply for a Mott Foundation Fellowship and admission to
I, of course, heard about Malcolm during my doctoral work and a couple
of his books were required reading (Knowles, 1950, 1962). I also saw him
at the first AEA conference I attended in
You can tell by the title of this paper that by
focusing on the people involved with the founding of AEA of the
Another fascinating thing was to discover how some
unexpected people popped up as somehow involved in the early years of AEA.
For example, Milton Eisenhower (Ikes brother) was President of Pennsylvania
State College. He had agreed to participate in a workshop to be sponsored
in 1954 by AEA on the topic of adult education and older adults. I dont
know if that workshop actually took place. Dr. S. I. Hayakawa, later to become
Senator Hayakawa, was a specialist in general semantics. He served
as chairman of a session on the importance of semantics to adult educators
at the 1954 AEA conference in
I should let you know about the resources I used for this research. They are few in number just because I had limited time in which to complete my effort. Subsequently, my research findings are also limited because of the lack of additional historical documents, no interviews with people who may have participated in these events, and my own lack of understanding of the times. Regarding the resources I did have access to, my relationship with Howard and Helen McClusky was instrumental. The time I spent in their home both during and after I graduated was always a treat. Howard willing and graciously allowed me to interview him a few times and he shared many of his papers and materials with me. After his death, Helen continued this kindness and gave me many boxes of his papers, books, journals, and speeches. One treasure was Howards copies of the four primary documents about the founding of AEA that served as the main sources of data for this research:
Annual Reports (AEA, 1957a)
Delegate Assembly Documents (AEA, 1957b)
Executive Committee Minutes (AEA, 1957c)
Founding Documents (AEA, 1957d)
They contained original documents, minutes, reports, and conference programs pertaining to the development and founding of the AEA. They reflected primarily the period of 1949 through 1955, so that is why I limited my research to that time period. I dont know who assembled these invaluable resources, but suspect it may have been under the direction of Bob Luke or Malcolm Knowles, given some of the occasional notes in the margins. If anyone here knows the answer to that puzzle, I would love to hear from you.
I also looked at a few of the related journals around the same time period seeking clarification, verification, or expansion of what I was finding. In addition, I examined a few of the publications by Howard, Malcolm, and Cy to obtain a bit more insight into the context of the times and their own thinking processes. Many of these publications are referenced throughout the remainder of this paper.
The purpose of this section is to provide some background or context to help us understand some aspects of Howard, Malcolm, and Cys lives during this 1949-1955 time period. As is demonstrated in the next section, Howards heaviest involvement in the founding process was from 1949 through 1953, although he continued to be involved for the next two years. Malcolms heaviest involvement was from 1951-1955 and Cys heaviest involvement was from 1953-1955.
In 1949, Howard was 49 and Malcolm and
Cy were both 36. All three were married and had
children. Howard was living in
All three were already active adult education professionals who had
contributed to the field in many ways by 1949. Howard was Assistant to the
Vice President for University Relations at the
Malcolm states in his autobiographical journey that he realized he
was an adult educator in 1937 at age 24 (Knowles, 1989). He was Director
of Adult Education for YMCAs in
I dont know when Cy began to think
of himself as an adult educator, but he was an Assistant Professor working
with adult education at the
Each also was involved with the parent organizations of AEA. For example, Cy was Regional Vice President for the Department of Adult Education, NEA, for a two-year term beginning in 1946 (Department of Adult Education Officers, 1946). Howard and Cy were Associate Editors of the Departments Adult Education Bulletin from 1942 until at least into 1947 (Associate Editors, 1942, 1947). Both were writing articles in the Bulletin during this time period. Howard was on the AAAE Executive Council with a three year term ending in 1946 and on the Executive Board (A.A.A.E. News, 1945). Howard was elected a Vice President of AAAE in 1946 and Cy was elected to the associations Executive Council for the 1946-1949 period (A.A.A.E. News, 1946). All three were on the Executive Council of AAAE at the same time with three year terms slated to expire in 1952 (AAAE Officers, 1950).
So you can see that all three were well established as adult educators and probably fairly well known as professionals in the field. They also spent considerable time together, especially Howard and Malcolm, participating in and often leading the founding process. I dont know how valuable such interactions were, now whether there was any perceived or overt competition among them. However, knowing a little about their personalities I can speculate that each probably respected the contributions of the other two while at the same time exerting their opinions and ideas in a respectful but persuasive manner. I believe such leadership qualities were vital to the founding process that is described in the next section.
Founding a New Adult Education Association
The purpose of my research effort was three fold: (a) To better understand the actual roles played by Howard, Malcolm, and Cy during the 1949-1955 AEA founding period; (b) to determine the impact each had on the formation and establishment of AEA; and (c) to suggest several implications for better understanding the field of adult education. The next two sections speak to these purposes and the final section includes my recommendations for some future research.
The theoretical perspective informing this research is that a certain individual can play a pivotal role in the long-term success of an organization or even a professional movement. In some respects, Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were the right people in the right place at the right time. However, as is evident in the distinguished careers each had during their professional lives, their talent, knowledge, and leadership abilities added much to the AEA, and, ultimately to the adult education field. Certainly, the roles they played during the time period of this research impacted greatly on what AEA was to become.
Figure 1 shows a chronology of events leading up
to the establishment of the AEA and its first national conference. Howard
and Malcolm were both involved with some of the actions or meetings shown
in that chronology. For instance, Howard was one of the initial appointees
to the JC to study and make recommendations regarding the
establishment of a single national organization to represent and serve the
adult education field (Toward a New Association, 1950, p. 5). This
appointment took place in late 1949. Howard and Malcolm were appointed to
the National Organizing Committee about a year later. I speculate that
Cy might also have been appointed to this committee
had he not been in the
Obviously there were many important events leading up to actual work on the AEAs founding process as shown in Figure 1. Oh, to be able to twist the fabric of time and insert a modern video camera or sound recorder into the rooms of those early meetings when members representing AAAE and the DEA and others talked about the pros and cons of establishing a new, over arching organization. I anticipate that it took much discussion, persuasion, and give and take just to create the JCSAE.
This section actually begins, though,
Figure 2 shows the membership of the JC at the time of that first meeting and portrays a wide variety of skills, experiences, and geographic representation. The intent of selecting those members was to provide a group of individuals that would broadly represent the field, but with a single voice. Although there did turn out to be fairly broad representation as is shown in Figure 2, one of their first discussion points was that they were not broad or representative enough. I dont have direct evidence, but can almost hear Howards voice in much of this type of discussion because of his past experiences in community development and his skills as a consensus builder.
1921 Department of Immigrant Education, NEA, established
1924 Name changed to Department of Adult Education (DAE), NEA
1926 American Association for Adult Education (AAAE) established
1943-1944 AAAE and DAE unsuccessfully attempt to enter into a closer cooperative relationship
Library Association, and the Educational Film Library Association jointly sponsor a national adult
education conference in
Commission for the Study of Adult Education (JCSAE) composed of representatives from each of
the conference sponsors
1949, May The JCSAE recommends that the AAAE and the DAE set up a joint committee to explore the
possibility of greater collaboration with one another
1949, October The AAAE and the DAE establish a Joint Committee (JC) to study the possibility of a new adult
1949, December The JC holds its first meeting and begins discussion of the needs for adult education in the
American culture, the major functions of adult education workers, the professional services they
require to carry out their tasks, and the functions and structure of a national organization that
would provide needed services and representation for workers and organizations in the field
1950, March Second meeting of the JC
1950, April Third meeting of the JC
1950, May Participants at the annual meeting of AAAE receive a progress report from the JC and they urge
the development of a national meeting to establish the new organization
1950, May Fourth meeting of the JC involves planning a summer workshop to think through in greater detail
the functions and structure of a new organization and to plan ways of enabling the field to
participate in this exploratory process
1950, August The JC and invited consultants from many areas of adult education hold a week-long workshop at
subsequent planning for the new association
1950, September The JC makes a progress report to the JCSAE and receives its counsel and approval
1950, October The annual conference of the DAE receives and approves a report from the JC. The governing
bodies of the DAE and the AAAE authorize the formation of an autonomous National Organizing
Committee (NOC) empowered to complete plans for a new association and to arrange for its establishment
1950, October The NOC holds its first meeting and begins setting up a number of committees to plan for the
formation of the new association in May, 1951
1950, October The Adult Education Journal and the Adult Education Bulletin are replaced by a single
publication, Adult Education
1950, December Second meeting of the NOC
1951, February Third meeting of the NOC
1951, April Nationwide election of Executive Committee and Delegates-at-Large. Submission of draft
constitution to the field for criticism. Memberships of AAAE and DAE vote for dissolution of
their respective organizations in favor of the new national association
Founding Assembly of the new association
meets. The name of the AEA of the
Howard elected as the first president. Malcolm appointed as Administrative Coordinator
1951, October First national conference of AEA held
Figure 1. Chronology of the Development of the Adult Education Association
(Adapted from First Annual Report, 1952)
Joint Committee Membership
(Toward a New Association, 1950)
For the AAAE
Executive Director, Film Council of
(alternative), American Labor Education Association,
(alternative), Hampton Institute,
Assistant Chief, Field Studies and Training, USDA,
Director of Extension,
(ex officio), Director, AAAE,
Nisonger, Director of Adult Education, Ohio State Univ.,
For the DEA
(ex officio), Director, DAE,
(alternative), Director of Adult Education.,
Professor of Agricultural Education, Univ. of
(alternative), Assistant Director, DEA,
Chief, Bureau of Adult Education, Dept. of Education,
Director of School Extension, Board of Education,
Chief, Div. of Adult Education, State Dept. of Public Instruction,
Thomas A. Van
officio), Director of Adult Education, Board of Education,
Consultants and Staff
(consultant), Specialist, General Adult Education, Office of Education,
(recorder), Assistant Director, AAAE,
(consultant), Prof. of Education, Teachers College, Columbia
(Toward a New Association, 1950)
Adolfson, Director, Univ. Extension Division,
Leland P. Bradford
Pres., National Conference on Adult Education, & the Negro,
Eleanor G. Coit
Exec. Secretary, American Library Assoc.,
Hallenbeck, Prof. of Education, Teachers College,
Prof. of Education, Ohio State Univ.,
Herbert C. Hunsaker
Prof. of Social Philosophy,
Robert A. Luke
Howard Y. McClusky (chair);
Herschel W. Nisonger
Dept. of Rural Sociology, Cornell, Univ.,
Hugh C. Pyle, Supervisor of Informal Instruction, Extension Div., Penn. State College, State College, PA
Chair, Committee for the Labor Extension Act,
Ralph B. Spence
Ona R. Wagner, Director, General Adult Education, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE
Cooperative Broadcasting Council,
Individuals Initially Serving on the National Organizing Committee
(AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 206-207)
L. H. Adolfson
Leland P. Bradford
Director of Adult Education, Board of Education,
Eleanor G. Coit
John M. Cory
Des Moines Pub. Schools,
Agricultural Education, Dept.,
Herbert C. Hunsaker
Executive Secretary, Central YMCA,
Robert A. Luke
Howard Y. McClusky
Robert B. Sharer
Assoc. Director, Univ. Ext.,
Ralph B. Spence
Thomas A. Van Sant
Witman, Council of World Affairs,
First AEA Elected Executive Body
Nation-wide Ballot Prior to the Founding Assembly
(News from the AEA, 1951)
Leland P. Bradford
Eleanor G. Coit
John M. Cory
Paul H. Durrie
Paul L. Essert
Herbert M. Hamlin
Margaret E. Hoke, Adult Education Council of Denver, Denver, CO
Herbert C. Hunsaker
Malcolm S. Knowles
Howard Y. McClusky
International Harvester Co.,
Paul H. Sheats
Thomas A. Van Sant
Officers Elected at the Founding Assembly
(News from the AEA, 1951)
Leland Bradford, Exec. Committee Member
Edward Brice, Vice President
Glen Burch, Exec. Committee Member
Eleanor G. Coit, Exec. Committee Member
John M. Cory, Exec. Committee Member
Paul H. Durrie, Exec. Committee Member
Paul L. Essert, Exec. Committee Member
E. Manfred Evans, Vice President
Gladys Gallup, Exec. Committee Member
Herbert M. Hamlin, Exec. Committee Member
Margaret E. Hoke, Vice President
Herbert C. Hunsaker, Exec. Committee Member
Homer Kempfer, Exec. Committee Member
Malcolm S. Knowles, Exec. Committee Member
Secretary-Treasurer, Director of Adult Education,
Howard Y. McClusky, President
Ernest H. Reed, Exec. Committee Member
Paul H. Sheats, Exec. Committee Member
Thomas A. Van Sant, Exec. Committee Member
[Note: This became known as the Executive Committee]
Delegates-at-Large Elected the Delegate Assembly
At the Founding Assembly
(News from the AEA, 1951)
William M. Cooper, Hampton Institute
Robert A. Luke, National Education Association
George C. Mann, California Department of Education
Spence, Teachers College,
Interntl. Ladies Garment Workers
At the Founding Assembly
(News from the AEA, 1951)
Leland P. Bradford, Coordinator of Service Committees
Herbert C. Hunsaker, Coordination of Organizational Committees
Malcolm S. Knowles, Administrative Coordinator
Robert A. Luke, Coordinator of Field Services
Thomas A. Van Sant, Coordinator of Communities of Special Interest (he resigned from that task in July, 1951)
Robertson Sillars, Ed. of Adult Education & Administrative Secretary
One of the important outcomes of that first meeting was that the new organization should be able to help adult education at the community level with such tasks as needs assessment, program planning, program coordination, evaluation, better utilization of community resources, training professional and non-professional adult educators, and simulating clientele involvement. Interestingly, even though there were only a few higher educators at that meeting, they also talked about developing programs of research, developing a functional philosophy of adult education, developing a professional status for the field, ensuring academic freedom, and interpreting adult education to the public, topics that might have been initiated by college and university personnel. My hidden video or sound recorder probably would have shown a high level of excitement and anticipation among JC members at the conclusion of this stimulating meeting.
The second meeting of the JC was held
The third JC meeting was
The next JC meeting was just after the conference on May 7. The initial discussions, facilitated by Howard, started with a general consideration of the positive reaction of the AAAE meeting attendees to the idea of a new association. However, there was recognition of the complexity of the task and during the AAAE meeting a resolution was approved calling for the JC to be reconstructed, to have new powers, to expand its membership, and to involve the adult education field more broadly (AAAE News, 1950). Howard agreed to provide leadership in forming a committee to work on methods, materials, development, and production related to a new organization. Obviously, I am concentrating only on three individuals in this paper, but identifying Howards very active involvement (as was true for Malcolm and Cy) in these paragraphs is very symbolic of the very active role he actually played. He seemed to volunteer (or be drafted) for many roles throughout the founding process.
A very important meeting took place
During this meeting Howard, Leland Bradford, and Herb Hunsaker accepted
responsibility for preparing an approach to a foundation to secure funds
to help support the founding process. Howard agreed to participate in two
smaller working groups in September. One of these was a committee on the
organizing assembly planned for May, 1951 (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 130).
He also was suggested as the person to carry out primary responsibility for
in-service training through what they envisioned as a
Howard also agreed to seek the assistance of a university audio-visual department in preparing a filmstrip to entice other organizations to join in the formation process. I dont know if such a film strip was actually developed, but something helped bring a large number of groups into the founding process for at least a part of the time. Figure 3 portrays as many of those groups as I could find mention of in some way.
A small working group from the JC referring to
themselves as a steering committee met in
As shown in the earlier Figure 2, those appointed to the NOC were
many people who had previously been involved, but there also were several
new ones (including some future AEA presidents and Malcolm Knowles). Several
members of the NOC (including Malcolm) met
A large group of NOC members, referred to as the groups National
Planning Committee, met in
American Association for Adult Education (AAAE)
American Association of Group Workers (AAGW)
American Council on Education (ACE)
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
American Labor Education Service (ALES)
American Library Association
American Medical Association (AMA)
Association of University Evening Colleges (AUEC)
American Vocational Association (AVA)
Chamber of Commerce of the
Committee of Industrial Organizations (CIO) Department of Education
Council on World Affairs
Department of Adult Education, NEA
Educational Film Library Association (EFLA)
Federal Security Agency, Office of Education
Film Council of
General Federation of Womens Clubs
Junior Chamber of Commerce (JCC)
League of Women Voters
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB)
National Conference on Adult Education and the Negro (NCAEN)
National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ)
National Recreation Association (NRA)
National Urban League
National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (NVATA)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Workers Education Bureau, American Federation of Labor (WEB)
Figure 3. Associations, Groups, and Organizations Involved in Some Capacity with Early Founding Efforts
The AAAE and DAE executive officers cooperated in disseminating a write-in mail ballot before the Founding Assembly. That process was completed during April of 1951 and Figure 2 shows the first AEA elected executive body. Those who had been previously involved in various meetings or working conferences made up the bulk of the elected members, but there were a few additions.
The Founding Assembly took place
Howard started off the Sunday morning session with a speech entitled, Adult Education in the Defense of a Free People. It was depicted as having been a stirring opening address (Founding Assembly Flashes, 1951, p. 163). Having heard Howard speak many times, I am sure that it set a very positive tone for the meeting. Other memorable activities during those three days no doubt included the presentation of the proposed constitution, further elections, the ceremonial dissolution of the AEA and DAE, and Paul Sheats closing speech, The Adult Education Association in a Changing Society (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 209).
I would love to have been there when it came time to decide on the
actual name of the new association. The name finally proposed by the Organizing
and Constitutional Revision Committees, National Association for Adult
Education, did not go over well with some. Foster Parmelee of the Business
On May 15 members of the Executive Committee met. Staffing, budget issues, and committee needs were discussed. A vote was taken to have an administrative coordinator. On the 17th after the conference an Interim Committee (Howard, Leland Bradford, and Herbert Hunsaker) made several staff appointments (see Figure 2), including Malcolm as Administrative Coordinator (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 13). Initially these appointees all were without salary pending a better understanding of the financial situation. Malcolm and Howard were both among the designees to work with the publication project, with Howard heading up a sub-committee charged with evaluating the need for a new journal. The new journal was initially called Leadership (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 14).
A larger interim committee (Bradford, Hunsaker, Kempfer, Luke, McClusky,
Sheats, and Sillars) met
The Executive Committee met in
The Executive Committee met
The first AEA conference was
The Executive Committee next met in
Adult Leadership was initially slated to come out in January, 1952, then April, 1952, and the first issue finally appeared in May of 1952. Malcolm is listed as project director of the editorial staff and Howard is listed as on the operations committee. The magazine featured lots of cartoons, tips, and practical articles. I found interesting a feature written in a short story format entitled, Dans Turn. It was billed as a true-to-life short story about what happened to Dan Mathews when he suddenly found himself named program chairman (Laue, 1952, p. 3). It described some of the pitfalls in the planning process. It was fun to read and I wish the magazine had repeated that format in later issues.
The Executive Committee next met
The Steering Committee met in
The Executive Committee met
The 3rd AEA Conference was
An Executive Committee met on October 31 and
The Steering Committee met in
The 4th AEA conference was
The Executive Committee met in
The 5th AEA conference was
That ends my reporting on the 1949-1955 founding process and how Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were heavily involved in that process. This has been a long section lumbering somewhat laboriously through the various committee meetings and conferences pertaining to the founding process selected for this research. However, I felt it necessary to show considerable evidence of the involvement by all three of the papers subjects in that process. In the next section I try to make a little more sense out of it.
What Can We Learn From the Involvement of Howard, Malcolm, and Cy?
I said earlier in this paper that in some respects Howard, Malcolm and Cy were the right people in the right place at the right time. In reality, though, it was much more than that. I think we can learn a lot about the field of adult education, the importance of leadership as a quality, and even about ourselves by looking at the contributions these three outstanding people made. In many respects, that is the power historical research plays by enhancing our understanding a little more.
It is clear, at least to me and I hope somewhat for you, too, based on the last section that each of the three played a very important role in the founding process and had a tremendous impact on the growth and development of the adult education field. Howard did it through his willingness to stand up very early in the process and agree to accept major leadership roles. He could have said no many times, but it almost appears that he never said no and just kept assuming new tasks. His being elected chair of the JC came, I suspect, from others recognizing his prior contributions to the field and the founding process, his reputation as both a hard worker and a scholar, and the respect he had from colleagues as a fair and conscientious person. However, he showed time and time again a tireless ability to shoulder a very large load and to make sure things were getting done during those no doubt tricky first couple of years. I remember Howard as a fairly quiet, even humble man, which could have been misinterpreted as almost laissez faire in nature. However, he clearly led by example. Howard also made several contributions related to his academic interests in community development and education for the aging person.
Malcolm, as many of you will remember, was a bubbly, energetic, self-confident, even charismatic individual. Obviously, not many of us here today knew Malcolm when he was in his 30s, but I suspect he was not afraid to run a meeting, direct others in their efforts, and put a practical spin to moving the association forward. In many respects, he was a leader through his ability to see things through and to persuade others to work hard.
Cy was perhaps the most intellectual and formal of the three (and some of you may want to debate me on this observation). I have always thought of Cy as somewhat quiet and reserved. Thus, I was somewhat surprised to find out how actively he jumped into the fray, so to speak, after being elected to the Executive Board in 1952. He readily accepted considerable responsibility. My hidden video or sound recorder might have confirmed my suggestion that Cy may have been playing the Yin to Malcolms Yang, although some of you may want to question my choice of that metaphor, but I think you get my point. Cy was a leader who stepped in when needed and also made sure that AEA carried out some programming related to his interests in libraries and international cooperation.
Would AEA have flourished without Howard, Malcolm, and Cys involvement. The obvious answer is yes, because so many excellent leaders were involved in the founding process. The fact that it did survive for so many years before it and NAPCAE morphed into the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, is proof that good leaders kept emerging (many of them in this room today). However, even though I chose to concentrate primarily on the three people I did, I was surprised at the level of involvement of all three. Each made important contributions during the founding process and stamped the association with aspects of their lives, beliefs, and energy in ways that helped turn AEA into the viable organization it became for so many years.
What can we then learn from this research? Three things stand out in my mind. The first is that historical research can be a valuable tool in increasing our understanding of an event, a process, and even the long-term success of what that process started. That is a self-evident statement, but I believe too often historical research is overlooked in the reductionism efforts by some scholars to manage or manipulate relationships so new knowledge can be identified or pinpointed with high degrees of reliability and validity. Historical research and various qualitative approaches have received considerably favorable interest in the past 15-20 years, but we should continue that by insisting our upcoming scholars have good historical research skills.
Second, there is so much more that needs to be learned about the founding of AEA as I only have scratched the surface. However, even by concentrating my focus primarily on three people, I began to obtain some insight into the importance of process, of involving individuals who represent a broad perspective in terms of views, experiences, and professional backgrounds, and of identifying individuals willing to work tirelessly to see an effort through. The failed dot coms of the past decade could learn much from such insights. I suggest some ideas about what else there is to be learned in the final section.
Third, the identification and selection of individuals in the successful development of an organization is crucial. Being able to identify and isolate qualities of effective leadership may help in future development efforts. I am not sure I am really plowing new ground here as there have been many past efforts to research and describe good leadership. However, by living with Howard, Malcolm, and Cys contributions to the founding of AEA for the past couple of months, I offer some ideas on what I think may have differentiated them from others in terms of the qualities that seemed common to all three:
1. A passion for what they commit to do. I mean here the ability to reach deep inside yourself and find that passion that will drive you to new levels of energy, excitement, and resolve. Whether it was Howard giving a speech about adult education in the defense of free people, Malcolm giving up a successful career with the YMCA, or Cy writing an impassioned letter about staffing policy, I saw this quality in each.
2. An ability to work hard. I stand in awe of the ability each had to spend so many hours involved in some way with the founding process. The fact that Howard and Cy had full-time jobs elsewhere during the process and that all three kept up an impressive amount of scholarship, too, makes me shake my head in wonder. Perhaps they dont make them like they used to!
3. A never fading commitment. Each of the three demonstrated their commitment to seeing the founding process through in so many ways by the time they put in, their many contributions, and their tireless efforts to enhance the developing organization. The fact that Howard still stayed somehow involved during the entire time period even after all his formal or elected roles had ended is symbolic of such commitment. He even wrote articles about AEA many years later (McClusky, 1971, 1982).
4. A love of working with others. I knew Cy the least well so am not quite sure how well this quality fits his rather formal demeanor at times. However, Howard and Malcolm obviously loved people, loved to be around them, and loved the synergism that flowed from being with others. Those of you who knew Howard, for example, remember how much he was loved by others, too. Lines of people would form around Howard at AEA conferences as they waited for an opportunity to talk with him.
5. A willingness to step into the breach. Even though each always had a full plate with their writing, public speaking, and consulting, they willingly accepted the responsibilities thrown their way throughout the founding process. Stepping into the breach can be scary at times, and not all potential leaders have that courage. Fortunately for us, Howard, Malcolm, and Cy certainly had such courage.
6. A willingness to take on leadership roles. It is one thing to work very hard and to even step into the breach, but constantly accepting new leadership roles, whether they be appointed, elected, or self-selected, is a separate quality in my view. Each of the three demonstrated this willingness time and time again.
7. A willingness to travel. As most of us here can attest to, travel can be just plain hard work. Sleeping in different beds ever few nights, driving a car many miles or traveling in a bus, train, or plane for hours, and eating hotel food can take its toll. Howard once told me that he had drunk enough institutionally made coffee to sink a battleship. Yet, each of the three certainly had to have traveled frequently and far during the founding process.
8. A real genuineness. As I mentioned above I did not know Cy as well as the other two, and, in reality, I did not personally know Malcolm all that well either. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have spent considerable time with Howard and I can say I dont think I ever met anyone any more genuine that he. My sense is that Malcolm and Cy were both quite genuine, too.
Well, that is my take on those qualities that may have differentiated them from other leaders. Can this information be used to mold or identify future leaders? I leave that to your evaluation for now. I do know that such qualities are something I can embrace and perhaps incorporate in various ways in the years of leadership I have remaining before me.
Future Research Recommendations
It is difficult for a scholar to end a research effort without making some suggestions about future research needs. Certainly as I went through my examination of available documents and thought about what I was learning, several unanswered questions popped into my mind.
1. Figure 1 reveals that the AAAE and DAE attempted to develop a closer working relationship during the years 1943 and 1944 that failed. Then in 1946 some groups (including AAAE and DAE) came together in a national meeting that resulted in the formation of the JCSAE. However, I dont know what all went on between then and 1949 when some things started happening. Future research that reports on this would be welcome.
2. Figure 3 depicts the various associations, organizations, and groups that appeared to have been somehow involved in the founding process. However, there were obvious differences in the nature of that involvement and some of them may only have been involved for a short period of time. I hope some future research effort can concentrate on better understanding the nature of this involvement.
3. Throughout my examination of the four documents and other materials, I found occasional discussion of efforts to build a council or federation of various associations and organizations that in some way worked with the education of adults. I hope some future research can trace such efforts and find out how valuable the resulting organizations or groups were in terms of coordinated efforts.
4. In this paper I have cited five different periodicals. Each had its unique slant on how to present scholarship to its readers. A ripe topic for future research would be an effort to examine the various kinds of periodicals related to adult education that existed in the last century and determine their impact on the field.
5. In my research efforts I found mention of the concept of lifelong learning even back in the late 40s and early 50s. Another good topic for research would be to trace the derivation of that term or concept and determine how it manifested itself in terms of programs, thought processes, and even legislation (i.e., the Lifelong Learning Act of the late 70s).
6. One of the prevailing themes throughout my research period and, certainly, later in the life of AEA, was the difficulties the organization faced financially. I hope someone will do some research on what works and what does not work in terms of financial success for a professional association.
7. I found it intriguing that AEA started with four office sites (Chicago,
Cleveland, New York City, and Washington, DC), but I never found the rationale
for that decision. Was it political, an appeasement effort, or financial
in nature? Why did the
8. It was also interesting to read about the conflicts that emerged fairly early between public school adult educators and other adult educators. This manifested itself in a strong sub-group, extensive discussions in Delegate Assembly sessions, eventually a separate organization, and even an eventual coming together again when finances dictated it in the 80s. Considerable research is needed to understand this whole process.
Let me end by repeating what I began this paper with and that is the pleasure I experienced in completing this effort. Personally I learned much and hope I was able to share some of this learning with you. Albert Einstein is reported to have said, I see far because I stand on the shoulders of giants. Certainly Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were giants in our field. I feel like I can still stand on their shoulders and it is not altitude sickness I experience. It is gratitude for having known them, thankfulness for what they did for the field, and respect for the modeling they did on what it means to be a professional adult educator.
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