Adult education has two branches. One can be called the purpose of education and the other can be named the practice of education. Many times it happens that in a practical set up the difference between the purpose and practice of adult education results in some sort of tensions in the working area. Tension does not necessarily mean that a problem arises that cannot be solved but it just means that the people who have been educated in a particular way and have been trained with a certain purpose of education do not find the same purpose being implemented in the place where they work. This is when these people become confused and they are unable to perform their job to the fullest.
Adult education and learning has changed over time in many parts of the world including Australia. The proposed model for adult education that was being practiced for primary, elementary and high school children is now no more used for training and educating the adult students. They want something more than the usual model of education. This is the main reason why the discrepancy between the purpose and practice of education has emerged in the recent years. Since education and the model of education has been existing for a very long time, representing the purpose of education, the changed practices of education sometimes become controversial for some conservative people.
In this paper we shall look at the models that have long been devised for imparting education to the students when they are still in their primary and high schools. Furthermore, we will look at the reasons why this typical model did not really work with adult education and why the system was changed and is still in the changing process. Last, but not the least, we will look at TAFE Australia and how it is training the teachers so that they can play a more positive role in adult education.
Until recently the educators only based their teaching practices and curriculum on one model of assumptions of education and these found their basis from the Greek art and science of teaching. The adult education was basically organized in a systematic way in the 1920s when the teachers started experiencing problems in adult education that was based on the pedagogical teaching model. This was because the main purpose of this model was to transmit knowledge and skills, which seems insufficient to the adult learners. Moreover, the teachers who were a part of the adult education system started noticing that the students were becoming increasingly resistant to the strategies that were used in the pedagogical model like fact-laden lectures, rote learning, quizzes, drill and examinations. This was one of the reasons why so many students started dropping out. The teachers did not notice that there was something wrong with the education system, until a philosopher, Alfred Whitehead, said that transmittal of knowledge and skills should only train the students for the time span in which they are living, rather the education system should be devised in such a way that the students and especially the adult learners have the skills and knowledge to tackle with novel conditions about which they have not been taught but they have developed the kind of thinking process because of which they are able to face the novelty of the situation. Another problem that was faced by the adult teachers who were making use of the pedagogical model was that the assumptions pertaining to the characteristics of the students did not the adult students. Therefore, these teachers had to experiment with a new set of assumptions to produce better results.
The solutions of the major problems of our age for example the human interactions can be found in education. The skill to deal with human relations is one of the skills that must be learned. It can be learned at home, at school, at the church, while working and anywhere where there is a small group of people interacting with each other (Brew, 1946).
Just like any other philosopher, Knowles was convinced with the fact that adults could not be taught in the same manner as children and this is what the distinctive field of inquiry was based on. He had done a lot of pertaining to the informal adult education and his work highlighted some of the factors that were involved in this process and setting. Likewise, he devised the movement for adult education in the United States that assisted him to reach the conclusion pertaining to the direction and shape of adult education. The next step that he needed to do was that he had to bring all these elements together and then develop a mechanism that resulted in andragogy.
The concept of andragogy was not very regular since the 1830s but Malcolm Knowles made use that he made this model popular among the readers of the English language. This was because Knowles was aware of the fact that assumptions about the characteristics of children were not the same as that of the adult learners. Moreover, the model of purpose of education of the pedagogical model was not consistent with the practices of the adult education. Under these circumstances, he emphasized that it was important for the education providers to devise a new model of education for the adult learners.
Now we shall discuss some of the characteristics of the adult learners that called for a change in practice of imparting education to the adult learners. We are all aware of the transition that takes place in a person when he or she matures. This implies that the concept of 'self' changes for a person when he matures. From being a dependent personality, he now becomes a person who can direct himself towards the good and bad (Brockett and Hiemstra, 1991). When a person matures, he accumulates in him a reservoir that is ever growing with the experience that he earns and that becomes a resource of learning for him. When a person grows up and matures his readiness to learn what is being taught to him also increases and he takes initiatives in the developmental tasks that have been assigned to him by the society. Moreover, when a person matures, his orientation to learning also changes. When he is young and still a child he postpones his application of learning but when the same person becomes an adult, he wants to apply the knowledge immediately. Likewise, his orientation also moves from the one that was subject-centered to the one that is problem centered. It has also been seen that when a person matures, his internal motivation to learn also increases (Knowles, 1984).
Although Knowles devised this theory and developed a new model of education for the adult learners according to their own characteristics for the students in the United States, the theory is applicable to the adult learners the world over because all the adult learners, no matter where they are present have the same characteristics (Knowles, 1990). Australia has been one of the first few countries that have realized how important it is to have a separate model of education for the adult learners and that is why Training and Further Education has taken many initiatives to train the teachers in the sector of adult education (ANTA, 1999).
A case study of TAFE Australia
Anne has been a teacher at the pre-vocational ICT as well as business-related areas in TAFE for the past 15 years (Haycock, 2007). If you view her career from the outside, it becomes evident that has been wanting to be a part of vocational education and training of adults and now in teaching adults. She knows the exact difference between the kind of education she wants to be a part of and academic education. Before starting her job at TAFE, Anne was an employee of the industrial sector so that she could have the experience of essential practices in business and industry. Anne has a firm belief in the fact that the teachers at TAFE are not just lacking the specialist teacher training to educate the adults, but also they need an exposure to the learning theories and techniques that are relevant to the industry experience. She said that in VET, you do not only need to upgrade the teaching skills but is also very important to upgrade the business skills. The standard for trainers at TAFE should industry release. She also claimed that the main problem with the TAFE teachers is that they do not have the latest and relevant industry experience. Some teachers are not even aware of what they are teaching. What Anne is talking about is a classic case of the purpose of education and practices involved in the adult education. The purpose is to train the adult learners with the right knowledge and skills that they would require to tackle the situations they would come across once they have completed their education, but the practice is that the teachers are…