Community Development Practice Methods


Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education can take place in the workplace, through 'extension' or 'continuing education' courses at secondary schools, colleges or universities or within an environment suited to the purpose. The practice is often referred to as 'Training and Development' and is often associate with workforce or professional development (Adult Education, 2010).

In another light, adult education can also be different from vocational education, which is mostly workplace-based for skill improvement. This form of education can be non-formal with a focus on learning skills or learning for personal development.  It has also been referred to as andragogy. Within this theory adults are viewed as autonomous and self-directed, using their foundation of life experiences and knowledge to create a recognition of the value of learning.

Both views of adult education are correct and based on the immediate needs of the individual. Both forms of adult eduction offer concrete skills and training for the individuals involved. The difference between them is essentially the formalities of the teaching style. Where as one focuses more on formal education (classroom, web-based, workshop), the other focuses on informal ways of learning (attending a forum, participating in a community club). 

The following is an example of a formal Adult Education Centre

It must be mentioned that through adult education techniques, popular education was born. Popular education is at the crossroads between politics and pedagogy, and strongly relies on the democratic ideal of the enlightenment. Public education is viewed as the main tool of individual and collective emancipation, and thus the necessary conditions of autonomy (Popular Education, 2010). With a strict emphasis on participation, popular education was created based on a need to counter oppression and preserve social justice (The Popular Education News, 2005). Vital to the success of popular education as a social justice technique, is the creation of connections and the honoring each others experiences.

Although many people see popular education as the work of radicals and extreme activities, this is not the case. Popular education relies heavily on traditional methods of knowledge sharing such healing circles, art forms, collective/traditional/sacred knowledge to inform its practice. Participates are seen as carrying their own unique strengths and experiences which are seen as an invaluable asset to the community.  Popular education is the act of collaboration through active listening, authentic language, communal experience and local direction. It is a tool for everyone, but especially CD practitioners as it essential to any CD project to have the impute and involvement of the community in order to have success. 

For more Questions & Answers on Adult Education  clink the link. 
Adult education/adult learning and popular education theory stem from the schools of thought created around the work primarily done by; Malcolm Knowles  and Paulo Freire.

Malcolm Knowles      1913- 1997

Malcolm Knowles  is considered to be the founding father of adult learning. Knowles’ original studies and writings arose from the assumption that there are significant, identifiable differences between adult learners and learners under the age of eighteen. The differences, according to Knowles, relate to an adult learner being more self-directing, having a repertoire of experience, and being internally motivated to learn subject matter that can be applied immediately. This learning is “closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role” thus building relevant skills that can be applied immediately. Knowles contrasted the concept of andragogy, meaning “the art and science of helping adults learn" (Knowles, 1980). For Knowles andragogy was comprised of the following five main assumptions:

1. Self-Concept: As a person matures, he or she moves from dependency to self-directness

2. Experience: Adults draw upon their experiences to aid their learning

3. Readiness to learn: The learning readiness of adults is closely related to the assumption of new social roles. 

4. Orientation: As a person learns new knowledge, he or she wants to apply it immediately in problem solving

5. Motivation (Later added): As a person matures, he or she receives their motivation to learn from internal factors.
(Smith, 2002)

Knowles' theory is based heavily on the desire of the learner to want to learn based on their  current life situation. Focused on “mature learning” this theory is anchored in the characteristic of adult learners.
In other words, Andragogy assumes the following about the design of learning:1.Adults have the need to know why they are learning something.2.Adults learn through doing.3.Adults are problem-solvers.4.Adults learn best when the subject is of immediate use

Paulo Freire   1921- 1997

Paulo Freire’s passion for social justice and self-empowerment led him to re -conceptualize what adult education was at the time. Paulo created a what he called the critical pedagogy, an "educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive action" (Giroux, 2010). Freire’s pedagogy was based on anti-oppressive practices that were meant to challenge current oppressive institutions. 

Freire’s sought to help this learners claim and recount their own experiences, cease being people to whom social history happened, and become people who consciously lived within, and played a part in creating, their own histories (Newman, 2003). Central to his practice was the use of authentic language, Freire insisted on people describing the word around them in their own terms rather then those given to them by those in power (Newman 2003). Freire emphasized the importance of educators honoring the learners experiences and culture, recognizing that everyone has something of value to teach others. The following are the five main tentants of popular education as created by Freire. 

Paulo Freire’s 5 points on popular education:

1. Dialogue involves respect. No one person acting on another but people working with each other

2. Informed action. Dialogue is a co-operative activity involving respect with the goal of enhancing community and building social capital, which lead people to act in ways that promote justice and human flourishing

3. Naming the world (conscientization), developing consciousness, consciousness has the power to transform. 

4. Experience, informs educators to new ways to approach the practice.

5. The of destruction of class. Hierarchal relationships among educators and educate must be dissolved in order to create a learning environment that fosters respect and authentic dialogue.
(Smith, 2002).

Freire’s popular education is rooted in social justice and anti-oppressive practice. In conjunction with creating self-efficacy and community, narrative is a common popular education tool used to mobilize participants into self-directed action. For current information on Paulo Freire please see the Paulo Freire Institute at UCLA.