Old and New Worlds of Adult Learning
Liczba stron: 535
Wydanie: 2005 r.
A large number of the contributions in this book reveal and illuminate how ‘worlds of adult learning’ both reflect contemporary changing societies but also individuals and their response to this; or, in other words, the subjects of learning and learning contexts. Every ‘world of learning’ is constructed in terms of both elements – the individual and social dimensions. They are constructed from the point of view of individuals and of society, of the play of history and of the possibilities offered to individuals by the distribution of knowledge in particular lives. The seemingly dualistic distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ worlds of adult learners requires some comment. Rigid and conclusive divisions are no longer valid, either in the sphere of learning or for that matter in research devoted to illuminating it. To understand the contemporary world, one needs ‘openness of thinking’ and paradigms that we – researchers, scholars, and participants of social life – can introduce and employ creatively in interrogating the complexity of our individual and social being. Learning is a process that is present in both old and newly established social settings. The ‘new’ worlds of learning do not simply replace the ‘old’ ones, or dominate them; rather they coexist, appear suddenly, often unexpectedly and sometimes prove temporary. This feature of a shifting scene of adult learning is not only a new challenge for research into learning, it is also an opportunity that gives scholars the possibility of conceptual reconstruction, methodological enrichment and the creation of new discursive possibilities. We believe one can see this reflected in our book. The change in the learning process itself is also of crucial importance. It ceases to be a simple mechanism for gaining knowledge and abilities and has become – in some senses always was – a complicated process that makes use of different places and ways of learning. It has also to do with the creation, not the least by learners themselves, of different and diverse forms of knowing, in a bewildering array of settings: including in formal education, work, community activism, cyberspace, self-help manuals, in families and intimate relationships as well as civil society. Undoubtedly, the starting point of the book is the idea of the existence of multiple worlds of learning. This multiplicity can be grasped (at least provisionally) and to an extent organized, albeit provisionally, under three categories of thinking. The book has been subdivided into three main parts following this process. Once applied, the categories allow us to locate the themes of the volume in the broader context of the humanities and social sciences as well as in the practices of adults engaged in learning. We believe that ‘worlds of learning’ touch issues of policy and economics, ideology and culture, society and subjectivity – all being present at every level of everyday life for adult learners – and can be analysed and interpreted from a number of theoretical, epistemological, and the present intro the methodological perspectives. This book will be of interest to researchers and practitioners working in the broad terrain of adult and lifelong learning. It will speak to diverse students studying processes of learning in many different settings. It will be relevant to academics and policy makers and anyone interested in the place of learning and reflexivity – individually and collectively – in our present world. The authors listed below are well known researchers and writers on these topics and bring rich and diverse cultural backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives to bear in interrogating learning in both ‘old’ and ‘new’ settings. The challenge for research into adult and lifelong learning will be to transform what can be an occasionally chaotic multiplicity into (a) new conceptual framework(s) for studying learning and learning worlds. We do not see the key terms or categories below – identity, biography and structure – as words which define this complex world, or that they offer a sufficient analytical frame, rather they enable academic conversations and analysis to proceed.