Adult Learning: How Is It Going?

adults learning

Contrary to popular belief, education doesn’t end with graduation from college – many people engage in various courses later in their lives, either to improve their knowledge in one chosen field or to get a new specialization in order to find a job different from what they’ve been doing so far. Statistics show that this tendency grows more and more distinct as time goes on: right now about 44% of all individuals over age 16 are engaged in some kind of adult education or have been engaged at some point of their lives.

It reflects the general tendency of modern people to move about and be the facilitators of change in their lives: instead of receiving a single education and sticking to the same job for the entire duration of their lives, they continue to seek for new ways of improving themselves, their condition, their place in life. Various kinds of adult education serve as one of the most popular ways of finding oneself.

Of course, adult education is not spread evenly among all population groups – its prevalence differs, sometimes rather drastically, depending on age, sex, ethnicity and other characteristics. For example, it is much more widespread among women than among men, especially personal interest courses. Whites and blacks are more inclined to sign up for different courses than Hispanics of the same age, and so on.

In addition to the growing interest towards adult education on the side of individuals, it is clearly seen that it gradually comes under the spotlight of government. For example, the state of California is going to boost funding for different apprenticeship programs back to the level before the 2008 economic crisis. Of course, it is just one state and one cannot be sure this initiative will get into the actual state budget, but it shows the tendency that is more or less general among both federal and regional governments.

Despite the fact that adult education gets some pretty strong support from the government, its importance is firmly lodged in its self-organized nature. After all, adults are expected to be more independent than children, they choose what they want and need to learn by themselves and the process of educating them itself is based more on problems and their solutions, in other words, practice, rather than on subjects and disciplines. The adults are, well, adult enough to be self-motivated instead of relying on external motivators like their parents and relatives.

Adults cannot be made to learn, and they only learn what they expect to use in some practical way. Amusingly, adult education, being more pragmatically oriented, is based mostly on practice, i.e., doing as opposed to reading, listening and memorizing. In other words, this approach is perceived to be more effective if you need some real results – yet in pedagogy lecturing and reading assignments still remain the prevailing method of teaching.

In the years to come we can probably expect to see adult education rates to rise even more, and its best characteristics to be transferred to the education of children.

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