As a rule, we adult educators are skilled teachers of the most diverse range of topics and arts. We are good at communicating with our clients and our communities. We know how to motivate people who wish to improve themselves and their lives through learning, and advise them how best to plan their learning careers. We are good listeners, and this makes us sensitive to needs and demands that call for flexible responses that are well adapted to concrete given situations. We are quite good at organizing such responses even under difficult framework conditions and with insufficient budgets, talking and working together with our learners. We are all of this, and possess many other skills that are indispensible in our work.
But, again, as a rule, we are rather poor political advocates for our own cause. Frequently, helpful solutions to social questions that adult education can provide only occur to political decision makers as an afterthought after other und more costly approaches have failed. Rarely do we find adult learning on the list of priorities that governments draw up when they develop their plans for educational development.
We know that this must change. Becoming proficient in political discourse is vital for adult educators and their representatives, their organisations and associations at local, national, regional and global levels. They have an ongoing never ending job as critical partners in dialogue who observe government decisions and action, who lobby the legal and financial requirements of adult education, informal and non-formal learning, and who have the capacity to design propositions and to feed them into the political debate.
We have talked about this and other things with Alan Tuckett, current president of the most global civil society association for adult learning that we have, the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE). And we have looked at ways in which adult education defines its position with regard to Rio+20. Robert Bissio’s open letter to the world leaders, and Sergio Haddad’s design for the debate of the theme of Rio+20 from the stance of adult education are just two approaches that will be enriched by many others that we will observe, and in which we will participate, in the months to come.
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