Merriam-Webster defines education as, “the action or process of educating or of being educated” (Merriam-Webster, “n.d”.). With this definition alongside the meaning of adult education, the context may vary.
For example, in the 1900’s, an educated adult has been defined to being able to write their name (Drago-Severson, 2004). On the other hand, modern times has defined adult education to be concerned with educating a country’s workforce to be skilled enough to support the country on a competitive global market scale (Jarvis, 1987). Since there is a multitude of interpretations of what adult education is, there need to be certain conditions in answering “What is ‘Adult Education’?”.
Rather, what are the answers to “What is an adult?”, and “How do adults learn?”. Towards the end of this paper, the clarification of Adult Education will be prominent given the specific circumstances of the 21st century in North America. The first step in finding the answer to “What is Adult Education?” is to characterize what an adult is. Most would assume the age difference correlates to the potential capabilities an individual may have. In supporting this notion, Paterson has stated, that adults have certain beliefs and abilities (Merriam & Brockett, 1997).
Although this view of being an adult has appropriate support, there are misconceptions; precisely, the supposed fact that every adult is mature and independent. In reality, adulthood is a sociocultural representation of the given society and culture (Merriam & Brockett, 1997). In North America, an adult is perceived to be between the ages of 18 to 64 (Drago-Severson, 2004), and can work (Merriam & Brockett, 1997). Overall, the definition an adult in North America is hugely dependent on a particular age range and the potential the individual has in contributing to society’s infrastructure on a socioeconomic level.With this established idea of what an adult is, the second challenge is analyzing how an adult learns, particularly in comparison to a child. There will be two terms commonly used in this debate: Andragogy and Pedagogy.
Andragogy is defined to be the “art and science of helping adults learn” (Merriam & Brockett, 1997), while pedagogy is “the art and science of teaching children” (Jarvis, 1987). Andragogy highly emphasizes “Problem-based Learning” since the system highlights the usage of solutions that are more likely to be applicable in that individual’s life. To support this, Yonge believes that pedagogy has an enforced obedient relationship between teacher and student versus a skeptical reaction adult students have with the learning material (Jarvis, 1987). In other words, andragogy emphasizes the extraction and synthesis of useful practical information for the future. As stated previously, PBL is a practical methodology for adults to learn given material, because PBL enforces a flexible environment in solving a given scenario within a group setting (“Problem-based learning”, n.d.
). There is no definite answer to the problems; however, any solution is viable if presented with enough supportive facts. This phenomenon is because students have to take the initiative to scout for information, which helps in reinforcing the knowledge (“Problem-based learning”, n.
d.). Furthermore, andragogy ensures that students have the necessary skills to compete in the workforce. That is a grasp on math, technology, communication and collaboration fluency in the workplace (“Problem-based learning”, n.d.).
Theoretically, andragogy is defined on the practicality of lessons for adults to excel in the workplace.Today, the interpretation of adult education in North America is as follows; an individual between the working ages of 18 to 64 and optimally learns when presented practical information that applies to the workplace. Moreover, the effects are prevalent in society as research emphasizes a nation’s development is dependent on an educated workforce. Perhaps the final concern on adult education is how time will revolutionize the adult learner in the future.