Foundations of Higher Education and Continuing Education

Compare and contrast the historical, philosophical, and sociological foundations of higher education and continuing education as they apply to current practice.

In November 2008, I wrote a ‘credo’ for CCE554 (Foundations of Continuing Education), which included a conclusion that “I tend to see my role as an instructor in a similar light as I saw my role as an attorney. I consider both roles to be important to the effective functioning of the democratic system, and dependent on facilitating the autonomy of the client and student” (Wilder, 2008a).  My experience with putting this approach into practice reflects a variety of historical, philosophical, and sociological foundations of adult education, with an emphasis on democratic principles of inclusion and autonomy.

In CCE554, I also wrote a paper that described historical movements of education, with a focus on how various movements responded to the autonomy of learners (Wilder, 2008b).  The Humanistic Education Movement section of the paper notes that “Elias and Merriam (2005) write that humanism is “a broad philosophical point of view that holds sacred the dignity and autonomy of human beings” (p.111),” and the Progressive Education Movement section includes a description of how “[i]n Lindeman’s vision for democracy, “[d]ifferences were welcome, “because freedom to express difference is one of the conditions of growth for the individual and progress for society.” (p.174, citing Lindeman, 1936).”(Wilder, 2008b).

As a college instructor, the development of critical thinking skills has been a core learning objective in every course, and this approach reflects elements of the Liberal Education Movement, which I described as seeking to liberate “the individual’s capacity for critical and independent thinking,” and elements of the Radical Education Movement:

Paulo Freire writes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed that […] “[p]roblem-posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor. No oppressive order could permit the oppressed to begin to question: Why?” (p.111). (Wilder, 2008b).

Since I wrote the CCE 554 papers, I have enjoyed designing and implementing problem-based learning experiences, which are described by Hung (2013) as the kind of assignments where “students learn how to deal with the uncertainty, […] and no one-standard-answer nature inherent in real-life problems” (p. 31). This problem-posing, real-life approach also reflects elements of the Behaviorist Education Movement, as discussed in this quote from my paper:

Jack Mezirow writes in 1981 that “Behaviorism has become a strongly institutionalized ideology in both psychology and education” (p.131), and states, “If you were to ask most professionals in adult education to outline how they would conceptualize program development, the model would probably be one which sets educational objectives in terms of specific behaviors to be acquired as dictated by a task to be accomplished.” (p.131). (Wilder, 2008b).

The Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI) (Zinn, 1999) that I completed for the credo assignment helps outline my philosophy and the variety of foundations that are reflected in my approach to practice as an educator. In November 2008, my PAEI scores were: Behaviorist (70), Liberal (71), Progressive (78), Humanistic (79), Radical (69). (Wilder, 2008a). In April 2014, my PAEI scores were: Behaviorist (85), Liberal (82), Progressive (91), Humanistic (90), Radical (84), and the differences in my scores over time appear to reflect a greater confidence in my education philosophy, due to the increased number of the PAEI statements that I “strongly agreed” with in April 2014. I believe that my experience as an adjunct instructor between September 2011 and February 2014 likely influences the differences in the results, because I have had the opportunity to put philosophy into practice.

 

References:

Elias, J.L, Merriam, S.B. (2005) Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education. (3rd Ed.) Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company.

Hung, W. (Spring 2013). Problem-Based Learning: A Learning Environment for Enhancing Learning Transfer. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 137. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Freire, P. (1984) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In Merriam, S. B. (Ed.). Selected Writings On Philosophy And Adult Education (pp.103-112). Malabar, Florida: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company.

Mezirow, J. (1984). A Critical Theory of Adult Learning and Education. In Merriam, S. B. (Ed.). Selected Writings On Philosophy And Adult Education (pp.123 -139). Malabar, Florida: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company

Stewart, D.W. (1987). Adult Learning in America: Eduard Lindeman and His Agenda for Lifelong Education.  Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company

Wilder, R. (2008a). “A credo.” CCE554. Learning Document. Retrieved from https://learningdocument.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/a-credo/

Wilder, R. (2008b). “Historical movements in education.” CCE554. Learning Document. Retrieved from https://learningdocument.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/historical-movements-in-education/

Zinn, L.M. (1999). Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI). Boulder, CO: Lifelong Learning Options.

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