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I believe that Adult Education is best described as a continuous learning process through which adults acquire desired knowledge to satisfy their needs at that time. Adult Education is not restricted to a formal learning environment, it can take place anywhere the adult is learning something new. I think it is also necessary to define what an adult is in order to understand any definition of Adult Education. This poses a problem as different societies define being an adult in different ways. Is age the defining factor, maturity level, or autonomy? I have worked in a Youth Parent Center where "Youth" was defined as between the ages of 14 and 25. If this is the case, then I am still a youth today as I am only 25. I do not feel like a youth, I feel like an adult, but does it really matter how I feel? This could be a long winded debate, so for the purpose of my definition of Adult Education, I will define an adult as being anyone over the age limit of being able to attend high school. I chose this because in my experience as an adult educator, people have gone to adult education classes or programs when they have no longer been able to attend high school.

I teach my learners not to believe everything they read or hear because often, what they think is true, has been concocted by those who are in power


I have been a Community Adult Learning Program (CALP) instructor for three years. During this short time, I have been able to pick up on certain trends from other instructors. The program has developed quite a bit since it began, and shows no signs of slowing down. Technology has played a major role in the development of the program, and the constant changing of roles for the instructors has been a source of confusion at times, and a source of relief at others.

In 1991, a program was started called CASP (Community Academic Services Program), the name was then changed in 2006 to CALP (Community Adult Learning Program) to emphasize its role in adult learning. When a learner began, he or she would be asked questions like their contact information, previous learning or upgrading experiences, and testing levels. This information was kept on paper in the learner's file as the "Learner Registry." Contracts were based on 35-hour weeks, and new hires were merely encouraged to have some sort of educational background, but that didn't affect the pay rate being the same for everyone. This meant that an instructor with a bachelor's in Adult Education would be paid the same amount as one with no educational background at all.

Today, CALP has become part of CALNet (Community Adult Learning Network). This change followed a merging of all adult learning resources in New Brunswick such as the computer access centers, CALP's, and a new program called WES (Workplace Essential Skills). Some of the changes that have taken place since I have been employed have been new technologies implemented in an effort to save the instructors some time. The Learner Registry is now done completely online, as are the attendance records; there is a GED learning tool offered completely online as well. With the demands rising, every classroom received two new computers, or laptops, during the 2007-2008 contract year. The instructors' qualifications were also recognized; now a new hire must have a University Degree in any subject (lowest pay), a Certificate in Adult Education (middle pay), or a bachelor's in Adult Education (highest pay). Contract hours also increased this September to 36.25 hours. The government of New Brunswick also recently recognized CALP in awarding each class their own gnb.ca e-mail account and implementing a professional development reimbursement procedure for instructors interested in upgrading their education.

The future looks bright for CALP instructors and learners alike, that is if rumours have any truth to them. Among these, the things most asked for by the instructors are to have some sort of health coverage, to unionize, and to receive the GED results of a learner faster; the current wait time for GED results is anywhere between four to six weeks. That kind of wait time tends to leave the learner in limbo where they are not sure whether to move on and find a job, or reserve their spot in the classroom. A few of the things the instructors have been told are on the way are new assessments complete with Canadian based reading passages rather than American ones, a new curriculum to better help the instructor teach the learner everything he or she will need in order to successfully write and pass the GED tests, and the implementing of main CALNet centers. These centers will basically be a one-stop shop for your entire adult learning needs, complete with the CALP classroom, access center, and WES training room. The biggest fear on most instructors' minds right now is that the WES program, as wonderful as it is, will take over our CALP classrooms. This fear was only reinforced at our learning symposium two years ago that was centered on this new training that would enable learners to get the job they want without the GED, simply by learning the skills they need for that particular job.

Why is it important?

As an adult educator, I believe in helping people change themselves. This does not mean that I try to instill my beliefs and values on everyone that comes in to my classroom, instead I feel it is important to help my learners discover what they value, and who they want to be. Upon them realizing this, I feel it is essential that I help them achieve their goals by providing them with the knowledge and resources necessary. This ensures that education in my classroom is always learner-centered. My curriculum is never the same because I am keen on assessing what my learners need based on what they want to achieve, and why. For the most part, everyone who has been in and out of my classroom wanted to successfully complete the GED (General Education Development) examination. The reasons however, vary from wanting to complete something for self-satisfaction, job enhancement or to find a job, to continue their education to a post-secondary level, to set a positive example for their children, and to satisfy a lifelong yearning to do it. All of these examples sum up to an addition on to my definition of Adult Education; adults acquire knowledge to satisfy their curiosity, fulfill their dreams, enhance their skills, or meet a goal.

As an adult learner, as well as an educator, I value experiential learning. In my classroom, because I have learners of all ages and backgrounds, I feel that everyone has something to offer someone else in terms of learning. For example, I have learners who are great at mental math because they have worked with money for a number of years, and others who are great at geography because they have traveled extensively.

Although I have only been in the field of Adult Education for three years, I have been able to develop my own philosophy of how I teach. Due to the opportunity of being closely involved with non-profit and community development organizations, which can be very hard but fulfilling work, I have developed a functionalist's point of view towards society (I feel it important to point out here that one of the drawbacks of the functionalist view is that it assumes that there is an even playing field where everyone can earn their position in society. There is no structural analysis. If an adult learner is unable to upgrade, the functionalists' view would see them as fitting their role in society. On that note, I have adopted this view only because this is how I think society works, not how it should work). I see communities as one organism needing support and resources for each part in order for it to flourish and be productive. Most of my learners are clients of Social Development (welfare) or Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour (unemployment); therefore, my learners are, for the most part, in need of not only academic upgrading, but also certain social or life skills in order for them to become productive members of society.

My teaching philosophy?

My personal teaching philosophy is a mix between, and incorporates views of both the pragmatists and the analytics. On the pragmatist's side, I strongly believe in using what the learner is interested in to help them gain knowledge as well as understand what they are learning. For example, I often use analogies such as shopping and car purchasing to explain percentage rebates or increases. I have observed that this helps them retain the information much easier than simply giving them the formula and asking them to memorize it. On the analytic's side, I also believe that each learner, as well as being educated by using what they are interested in, should be educated in a way that fosters their best interest. Going back to where most of my learners are referred from, I feel that it is in their best interest, and that of the communities, if these learners also gain skills that will aid them in becoming autonomous in society.

I have always believed that even though a learner has successfully completed the GED examination, they are no better off in society if they have not acquired life skills as well as Math and Literacy skills. Among the life skills that I deem important for my learners to acquire, are resume writing, interview skills, job skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, and ethical decision-making skills. The two life skills that I feel will be most useful to my learners in aiding a community to grow, are critical thinking and ethical decision-making.

Critical thinking skills fall within the philosophical orientation of rationalism (M. Selman in D. H. Poonwassie and A. Poonwassie (2001), p. 52, ch. 3). I believe that if everyone were able to differentiate between their beliefs of what is true and justified and what is speculative, rumours and panic would dissipate. This becomes difficult and problematic when what we know is subject to whom has said it. I teach my learners not to believe everything they read or hear because often, what they think is true, has been concocted by those who are in power, and it is ideal to try to minimize this influence and learn to think for ourselves. This part of my philosophy reflects the conceptual paradigm (D. Plumb and M. R. Welton in D.H. Poonwassie and A. Poonwassie (2001), p.72, ch.4). A perfect example of what happens in this scenario is how people are reacting to the H1N1 news reports and vaccinations.

Ethical decision-making skills are essential to a community's growth. I feel it is important that my learners acquire the knowledge to be able to make decisions based on evaluating their personal values, obligations, and consequences that that decision may have (R. G. Brockett and R. Hiemstra (2004), p.16).

I believe that Adult Education should cater to the needs and interests in a learner-oriented manner, as well as encourage the acquisition of knowledge that advances the learner's best interests within their community. I feel that there is a difference between learning and knowing things. The difference being, learning is to know something as well as be able to apply it, and grow as a person as a result.


Brockett, R.G. and Hiemstra, R. (2004). Towards Ethical Practice. (p. 16 - 29). Malabar, Fl: Krieger.

Magro, K. (2001). Perspectives and theories of adult learning. In. D. H. Poonwassie & A. Poonwassie. (Eds.) Fundamentals of Adult Education: Issues and Practices for Lifelong Learning. (p. 76-97). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Plumb D. & Welton, M. (2001). Theory Building in Adult Education: Questioning our grasp of the obvious. In. D. H. Poonwassie & A. Poonwassie. (Eds.) Fundamentals of Adult Education: Issues and Practices for Lifelong Learning. (p. 76-97). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.

Selman, M. (2001). Philosophical Considerations. In. D. H. Poonwassie & A. Poonwassie. (Eds.) Fundamentals of Adult Education: Issues and Practices for Lifelong Learning. (p. 76-97). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing.


Original posting by Lilith on Jan 18, 2010 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=21

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