Furthering Adult Education Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Adult Education

In a more globalized society, competition has become as ubiquitous as it is contentious. Companies, customers, and governments continue to expand and move, irrespective of geographic boundaries. The information age, has allowed the seamless and cost effective exchange of goods services and information. As the information age, along with more interconnected societies continue to grow, so too will the need for effective job training. Unfortunately, adult education has not become a paramount interest to society. This is apparent with the overall lack of adult education and training mechanisms within the community. In order to better compete in a more globalized society, the constituents within society must be properly trained. America in particular, has fallen behind its Asian counterparts as it relates to both math and science. These two subjects are critical to the new found information transfer currently underway. Consequently, the adult population is not properly trained to take advantage of changing more dynamic labor environment. This labor environment, in particular, is characterized by competition from around the world, not simply the community itself. As such, it is my contention that the community must adopt new teaching mechanisms, by which, the adult population can better prepare and educate themselves. Not only are these initiatives paramount to the individuals themselves, but it is also necessary for future economic development within the community. For the purpose of this letter is outline support for a community initiative that addresses the current shortcomings of adult education. As such, this letter will aim to provide key principles by which a new adult education program can be created within the community (Merriam, 2007).

To begin, an adult learner will be characterized as any individual 18 years or older, who is participating in the activity of learning. In addition an adult learner for the purpose of this letter will exhibit one, or more of the below mentioned characteristics.

1) Delays enrollment into a post secondary institution. The individual does not enter postsecondary education in the same calendar year that he or she finished high school.

2) Attends part time for at least part of the academic year.

3) Continuously works full time while enrolled. Full time will be defined as 30 hours or more of work during the week

4) In regards to financial aid and other education subsidies, the individual is generally considered financially independent

5) Has children, a spouse, or other dependents living within the home

6) Has not obtained a high school diploma

7) Is a single parent

A quick glance at the list reveals some very interesting concepts in regards to adult education. For one, the mechanism of instruction must be flexible as the adult learner is often occupied by large time commitments. Adult education relies on the fact that adults are self-oriented and are responsible for making their own decisions. Adults don't learn in the same manner as children do primarily to their personality structure. In many instances adult personality structure is almost fully developed at this stage of their lives. In addition, a series of habits and practices have been acquired during their lifetime that are now difficult to displace. As such, the community should be in favor of more opportunities for adult education. As mentioned above adult education not only helps support the community at large, but it also provided financial security for those individuals looking for a better opportunity. The community, to remain competitive, should elect to support and create new adult education initiative that aim to provide the skills needed for a globalized economy. In order to do so, the community must understand the principles of adult education, which will ultimately determine the success of any program.

First, the learning process must take into account how an adult perceives not only what is being taught, but also themselves. This principle includes considering the individuals previous learning experiences, considering their temporal perspective - especially when it comes to short-term application of what is being taught, and matching education to their problems, needs, interests and expectations. This principle is paramount to success as adults will often only learn when they see benefit in doing. Remember, the definition of adult learner as defined above, often involved raising children, working a full-time, or balancing a more structured life. As such the adult must be motivated to want to acquire new knowledge or skills that will help them in their overall quality of life (Bohonos, 2002).

The next logical principle is that adults will only learn what is necessary to enhance their prospects for a better future. Aspects that do not necessarily relate to their chosen field or endeavor are often discarded. In many instances, adult learners are motivated by the short-term. They may have children to feed, bills to pay, a mortgage and a job. In many instances, many adult learners want quick and effective results in regards to their overall educational needs.

Another interesting principle is that adults learn by doing. Tradition study techniques utilized by younger students often don't work. Aspects such as the teaching of theory have no substitute in regards to actual practice and "hands on" learning. This also encourages adults to be much more active throughout the learning process.

Of note, adults learn better in an informal environment as oppose to the traditional classroom setting. An environment with constant feedback and hands on training is needed. Adults, in general, what to know how they are performing. As such, it is critical that the learning process provide adults with constructive feedback, through the use of artifices such as self-evaluation questionnaires and activities. Adults require a variety of teaching methods. It's important that different approached be used when trying to pass on knowledge to adults. The use of audiovisual materials is highly recommended; as is the use of interactive activities such as role-playing, mock classes and presentations from the students. One of the most effective techniques that can be used to finish off a training program is to have the adults, either individually or in groups, prepare a small 5-minute presentation on some aspect or subject that was covered in the course. This will help the instructor to get an idea of how well the information has been absorbed, as well as allow the "students" to put into practice some of what they have learned in a controlled environment (Phipps, 2013).

Armed with the above mentioned principles, the community can position its education programs to be more successful in the future. The principles mentioned above have been created in part, due to past educational initiatives imposed by government. The history of adult education has been one of success. In fact, historically, adult education has made steady improvements in regards to the educating the general public. A large impact on the proliferation of adult education began in the 1960's, when the Kennedy administration enacted the poverty and adult literacy act. Building on Kennedy's efforts, President Lyndon Johnson and his administration launched a series of programs to end poverty and increase the role of the Federal government toward the improvement of education. For example, the administration passed the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964 which in essesnce created the first Adult Basic Education program as a state grant. The 1964 Federal legislation established a state and Federal partnership to focus on the most basic of educational skills for adults who had not completed secondary education. Over the past four decades the Adult Education Act has created numerous opportunities for both lower and middle income families to obtain a quality education, ultimately preparing them for a secure financial future.

The government has also created new initiative to educate adults in an effective and seamless manner. These programs, to date have been as successful at cultivating an atmosphere of education within the general public. Latinos and African-Americans are of particular interest as…

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