The Foundations of Adult Education

Essay, 2010
13 Pages, Grade: A

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A. Introduction:

B. Adult Education Background Description:
1) The Classical Humanism
2) The Progressivism of Dewey
3) Humanism and Behaviorism

C. General Analysis:
1) The Socratic Method
2) From Alexander Kapp to Rosenstock
3) How is Andragogy Seen in Ivory Coast?
4) Partial Conclusion

D. Actualization:
1) How is the Learner Viewed?
2) The Role of Experience
3) The Desire to Learn
4) How Should Learning be directed?
5) Motivation
6) Definitions

E. Discussions:

F. General Recommendation:

G. General Conclusion:

H. References:

A. Introduction

Teachers’ training is an important tool in the process of facilitating learning in general. If we consider school as a compulsory place through which many generations of learners pass, then school must also be seen as the ideal place for community oriented strategies. The same way, the form and content of training curricula has increasingly become an area of scholarly focus.

Likewise, the teaching methods in use in our secondary schools and universities are of equal importance. Many secondary school and university teachers rely heavily on a teacher-centered approach in their noble process of transmission of knowledge.

The new trend in our profession is the preference for a more student-centered instructional format. This Essay aims at examining a way to incorporate Adult Education principles into Teacher training in Ivory Coast.

By utilizing andragogic principles, both secondary school and university teachers will become more actively involved in their learners’ learning process. Such an approach may also help future generations, products of our school system, become more self-directed and more responsible in every day decision making.

Before initiating such a study, it seems useful to us to wonder what Adult Education is. How did it emerge and develop? How is it perceived in the French speaking Africa, and particularly in Ivory Coast? How should Adult education be perceived and incorporated in teacher training?

This piece of work will present first, the description of Adult Education background and its evolution to present. After that we will initiate a brief analysis of the principles underlying adult education. Afterwards, a brief attempt of actualization and discussion will help to show the rationale to incorporate Adult Education principles into teacher training. Some recommendations, followed by a general conclusion will put an end to this paper.

B. Adult Education Background Description

The history of Adult Education can be rooted to that of the ancient Greek philosophers, theologians and enlightened scholars such as Kant, Hegel, Lock (Sharan B, Merriam…, 2003) who invented ‘’classical humanism’’.

1)Classical Humanism:

Classical Humanism is also called ‘’liberal education’’ or “perenialism”. This trend is considered as the oldest education theory. This theory prevailed from its origin, that is to say the time of the ancient Greek philosophers; Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, and Aristotle (about 350 years before Jesus Christ) to the colonial America (From the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century). This theory is recognized as the ancestor of modern education theories. Later this liberal education was, not actually challenged, but improved through time and space by the progressivism of Dewey.

2) The Progressivism of Dewey:

Indeed, the old and narrow view that was limited to the teaching of philosophy, ancient languages and fine arts will become broader with John Dewey and his “pragmatism”. Elias and Merriam, (1994) qualified Dewey’s pragmatism as at the ‘’ heart of social reforms’’ with very clear objectives to be attained through clearly defined curricula. Those pragmatic views of Dewey gave way to behaviorist and humanist perspectives led by Watson in the 1920’s.

3) Humanism and Behaviorism:

The theories of Watson were based on what he called “measurable and observable realities, external to the knower and that can be known through the senses’’. According to Sharan and Merriam, from 1930’s to 1970’s Skinner developed this view more scientifically. That philosophy can be summarized this way: “human actions are the results of prior conditioning and the way in which a person’s external environment is arranged” (Sharan B., Merriam, 2003).

In Beyond Freedom and Dignity, Skinner (1971) asserted that ‘’the key to survival rests on a carefully designed educational system”. For Skinner, a better society can be developed if we manage to control the human behavior through a planned arrangement of the environment in order to achieve desired responses.

Similarly, Rogers C. played an important role in this humanist view of education and learning. For him “all human beings have a natural propensity to learn; the role of the teacher is to facilitate such a learning”. Rogers feels that the learner must fully be involved in his learning process. As for the subject matter, it must be relevant to the personal interest of the learner. For a faster learning, Rogers believes that external threats have to be reduced to the maximum. Rogers, C.R. (1969).

Progressively we are heading to a more humanistic vision of education. Ever more we are going nearer and nearer to a very learner-centered view of education. That is what made Rogers (1983) write that the translation of humanistic ideas into educational goals has led in shaping contemporary education into a “humanistic-based practice”.

Another leading figure of the modern humanism is Paulo Freire, for whom education must raise the learner’s consciousness “by teaching students to think democratically and to continually question and make meaning from everything they learn”( Freire Paulo, 1985)

Accordingly, in our modern adult education, the learner is internally good, motivated, and able to identify his own learning needs, able to decide about his learning contents. For example he has a word to say about the instruction and the evaluation methods.

Moreover, this modern adult education views the teacher, no longer as ‘’the authoritative dispenser of knowledge,’’ but as a mere facilitator of students’ learning. The works of Malcolm Knowles and those of Pratt (1993) will be based on this humanistic psychology based on the goodness of human nature. At this stage, it is good to ask the following questions; what is Andragogy then?

C. General Analysis

We will start this analysis by trying to see what education is. At this stage of our work we will start with the easiest and most known definition of adult education, the one that opposes adult education to child education. Adult education appears as the way to teach an adult. Adult education is also the art of teaching an adult. Is there another name for adult education and if yes where does it come from?

1)The Socratic Method:

If today finding the synonym of adult education seems obvious, the question of its origin is certainly interesting on the historical plan. Indeed, seen as a teaching method, another source of adult education is certainly the particular teaching method of Socrates known as “the Socratic method”.

It is this particular method of teaching through questions and answers that, in 1833 Alexander Kapp was referring to when for the first time, he used the term ‘’der Andragogik” to mean the way to teach adults (Sharan B. Merriam, 2007). However, this term will remain unused for about a century, because the influential German philosopher Johan Friedrich Herbert, was totally against it use.

2)From Alexander Kapp to Rosenstock:

That long silence was broken by Eugen Rosenstock, who pointed out the needs for “specific methods and teachers for adult learners”. That was at the beginning of the twenty first century. With Rosenstock Andragogy meant a series of processes for adult curriculum design (AIU Doctorate Degree Program, p14). How and when did Andragogy appear in France and then to its old colonies among which Ivory Coast?

The French Philippe Carré will help us by asserting that adult education research started in North America a long time before it was introduced in France. This means that research in adult education in general is relatively new in France.

Talking about research on self- directed learning Carré acknowledged that France, his country has an important delay (twenty five years) over the research in North America that started in the early 1960’s. The advance of North America over France can be seen through the number of doctoral dissertations on the matter by 1990. Indeed, there were 173 doctoral dissertations in North America against five Thèses de doctorat in France( Philippe Carré, 1993). If the master is twenty five years late how about the colony? This leads to the situation of andragogy in the French speaking Africa; the case of Ivory Coast.

3)How is Andragogy seen in Ivory Coast?

To be brief we would say that Andragogy or Adult Education is totally ignored in Ivory Coast. For example the country has fourteen universities among which three public universities and eleven private universities. In addition, we have three institutions for teacher training: Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Abidjan (E.N.S.) for the training of secondary school teachers and other agents, Institut Pédagogic National de l Enseignement Technique et Professionel (I.P.N.E.T.P.), for Technical School Teachers’ training, and Institut National de la Jeunesse et Sports (I.N.J.S. ), for the training of Sport and permanent education teachers.

13 of 13 pages


The Foundations of Adult Education
Atlantic International University
The Foundation of Adult Education
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Foundations, Adult, Education
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Assoa Ettien (Author), 2010, The Foundations of Adult Education, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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