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Adult Education’s Long Tradition of Social Justice California Adult Education 1856 to present Protecting and Expanding a Vision of Inclusion, Empowerment.

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Presentation on theme: "Adult Education’s Long Tradition of Social Justice California Adult Education 1856 to present Protecting and Expanding a Vision of Inclusion, Empowerment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Adult Education’s Long Tradition of Social Justice California Adult Education 1856 to present Protecting and Expanding a Vision of Inclusion, Empowerment and Transformation

2 Today’s Agenda… I.Stand up for Adult Education! II.Adult Education as an instrument of Social Justice through the years III.Our response to the current context?

3 CA Adult Education Our Long Tradition of Striving for Social Equity Our Traditional Assumptions Healthy Democracy requires social justice: Well-educated (literate) citizens who share equally in opportunity, responsibility and prosperity. Reaching a state of Social Justice requires equalizing access to each of these goods. Education is key for each. Adult Education has been responsive to conditions of Social Injustice by addressing educational need of individuals and marginalized populations.

4 Adult Education Shaped by Social Justice “contexts of need” From inception to the present, the system’s programmatic focus has been defined by our response to ever-shifting combinations of factors: – Immigrant and Refugee trends – War and political events and trends – Economic trends and events – Social and Cultural Movements Factors move in and out of prominence, creating shifting “contexts of need”. Each programmatic development can be traced back to a context.

5 Social Justice Vision Shared But Not Unanimous Social Justice movements must always progress in spite of resistance from interests preferring status quo (society and privileges to remain exclusionary of immigrants, other disenfranchised people).

6 1856 – 1910’s The Melting Pot - Americanization and Assimilation Immigrants/Refugees: Chinese, Europeans – economic, class betterment Politics - Russian Revolution, WWI Economics Manifest Destiny and RR plutocracy, good market for unskilled labor: need for bodies to populate and build (and fight WWI) Social movements Melting Pot – Americanization Educational Developments Adult Ed started… and becomes publicly funded (along with K-12)

7 Illiteracy the Constant Challenge Illiteracy is fundamental to each “context” Sometimes driven by a political agenda, sometimes by a social movement Military Mobilization: since WWI Adult Education has been needed not as a social justice good, but as a pragmatic response to the need for competent soldiers - in 1963, fully 1/3 of inductees were found to be “unfit” for duty due to lack of education. Civil Rights Movement: right to vote rested on ability to pass reading tests

8 1920’s Transitions - Post-War, Pre-Crash Prosperity fostered broader-based Adult Ed: Adult Education was expanded beyond Americanization to include educational needs of all adults. Focus changed from remediation of educational lack to organizing resources to improve community Growing social conscience/awareness of labor/economic issues with Russian Revolution, WWI

9 1929 – 1940 Depression and Remedy Immigrants/Refugees Americans fleeing Dustbowl Braceros seeking farmwork Europeans fleeing Third Reich War/Politics World - unrest: Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Hirohito USA – New Deal Economics 20’s World inflation, US Market bubble led to – 1929 Stock market crash and 30’s World Depression Social movements 20’s – Emancipation (20’s) 30’s – social justice/labor Educational Developments Retrench of Adult Ed scope and services with crash Horton, Highlander and beginning of social justice focus

10 1940 – 1965 War and Cold War Immigrants/refugees Europeans fleeing Hitler & aftermath of WWII Cubans fleeing Castro Politics – WWII, Korea, Cold War, Cuba Economics – War boom, post-war prosperity, Military Industrial complex Social movements – sacrifice and common goal 47–65 - McCarthysim, baby boom, conformity (Beat generation) – Free Speech Educational Developments GI Bill civil rights movement Freire and literacy as political and personal transformation

11 Free Speech to Stagflation Immigrants/Refugees Iranians (monarchy collapse), SE Asian (Vietnam) War/Politics Cold War Vietnam Iran revolution/hostage crisis Economics recession 1979 stagflation – decline of steel belt Social movements free speech/civil rights/feminism – counter culture/anti-war protests/human potential movement returning vets –disaffection moving to ”me generation” Educational Developments passage of Federal Adult Education Act Prop 13

12 Unraveling? Immigrant/Refugee Population SE Asian (Vietnam, Cambodia), Eastern Bloc (USSR dissolution) Politics USSR fall 1989 Operation Desert Storm 1991 Economics Manufacturing moving offshore Reaganomics “trickle down” dot.com boom and bust Social movements 1980’s - Blue collar backlash, Yuppies, Gen X Newt Gingrich/Contract with America Educational Developments 1982 passage of Federal right to education for undocumented children Amnesty laws affecting undocumented in 1986

13 History’s Context and Adult Education’s Response Theories and practices about Adult Learning have developed from the long tradition of Progressive Ideals Horton, Freire, Knowles are theorists who have described our adult education classrooms and the conditions that empower adult learners. John Dewey - Public education is foundational to movements for greater equity, justice and a stronger democracy. Education must compensate for students’ disadvantages.

14 Myles Horton ( ) and Highlander Schools Education to alter the balance of economic and political power relationships to the advantage of the poor “Learn from the people; start their education where they are.” Transformative education is grounded in the learners’: Values and culture Interests Social experience Shared situation Transformative education links the learners’ conscious actions to the historical development of society Citizenship Schools across the South informed and fueled the civil rights movement

15 Malcolm Knowles ( ) and the Human Potential Movement As a person matures… Self-concept …his self concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being Experience …he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning. Readiness to learn …his readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles. Orientation to learning …his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation toward learning shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem centeredness. Motivation to learn …the motivation to learn is internal.

16 Paolo Freire ( ) and Adult Literacy Adults who become literate shift from seeing themselves as an “object” to being the “subject” of their lives. Adult education is not the effort to fill up an empty vessel but rather opportunity to build on the grounded life experiences of the learners. Learners experience personal transformation and “conscientization” when they see their own circumstance in an historical context.

17 Disconnect Immigrants/Refugees Latinos, Iraqis, Africans Politics 9/11/2001, Afghanistan war, Operation Desert Shield Economics Housing bubble and foreclosure/banking crisis healthcare crisis unemployment crisis; approaching retirement of Boomers Social movements Bush years – how define THAT? Tea party gains momentum Educational Development until 2008 – participation-based programs re: ADA 2009 – massive cuts – local funding decision - grieving and retooling

18 Bubble and Burst Economic Patterns Paradox - Economic downturns simultaneously create spikes in need (students) and scrutiny of the validity of our work (funders, e.g. taxpayers) When times are hardest, adult education is needed most. When times are hardest, adult education is hardest to defend.

19 Adult Education as a… Gateway – acquiring language and literacy skills and knowledge to contribute and succeed in America Leveler – remediating a disadvantaged beginning or life setback: Right? (to individuals) Necessity? (to Democracy) The ongoing debate…

20 Downward Cycle of Undereducation For the first time in our Nation’s history year-olds have less education than the older generation The economic and social costs of under- education mount and the hourglass economy makes us look like a third world country Education is necessary to defend education

21 “The more the people become themselves, the better the democracy.” Horton & Freire

22 What does today’s context mean for how we continue our work?


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