Meaning of Adult Education

Of late I’ve been reading some historical materials about the origins of Cooperative Extension and during this exploration I came upon “The Meaning of Adult Education” by Eduard Lindeman.  As I began reading I was struck by counterpoised feelings – I am always comforted in finding that others, long ago, entertained a progressive, enlivening vision of what education can be and at the same time I am saddened that so much of what was said can still be said today with equal validity – we seem to have not progressed.

So when Lindeman says “The fact that over half the children in our public schools stop at eight grade and that only ten to twelve percent of those who enter high school complete the course may constitue an indictment, not against intelligence, but against the formalism of our educational system”  we can, and should of course, alter the statistics to our current state – 71% graduation and so on, but the salient point still holds. The formalism is deadening, even for those who survive the public schooling process. This struck me because I’m preparing for one of my sons high school graduation this friday and another son moving from 6th grade elementary school up to the high school.

I’ve railed before against all the standardized testing, worksheets and inanity that occurs in our schools- it’s little wonder that our kids run off to myspace and video games and places where they can have some control and expression.

Lindeman was writing 82 years ago, by the way………

13 comments

  • As the author of a biography of Eduard Lindeman (“Adult Learning in America: Eduard Lindman and His Agenda for Lifelong Education”) I resonate with your response to his work.

    I was captivated by “The Meaning of Adult Education” when I first read it in about 1975. I couldn’t believe it had been written in the 1920s. I was interested enough that I explored the idea of writing his biography and obtained access to his voluminous personal papers at Colombia University and the University of Minnesota. As it turned out, his life was as interesting as his writing. This project was the highlight of my life as an adult educator.

  • This may already be in your mailbox but I am sending it again after getting an error message the first time.

    As the author of a biography of Eduard Lindeman (“Adult Learning in America: Eduard Lindman and His Agenda for Lifelong Education”) I resonate with your response to his work.

    I was captivated by “The Meaning of Adult Education” when I first read it in about 1975. I couldn’t believe it had been written in the 1920s. I was interested enough that I explored the idea of writing his biography and obtained access to his voluminous personal papers at Colombia University and the University of Minnesota. As it turned out, his life was as interesting as his writing. This project was the highlight of my life as an adult educator.

  • Hi,

    I do some commenting and like a link from the comment, …

    I’m not quite sure where the line is with this and would appreciate your opinion here.

  • I'm, not sure what is adult education these day with the advent of the internet. This is surely a topic that needs a lot more thinking about.

  • When we do so little to encourage kids not to stop school once they reach their late teens, we should put more into adult education.

  • Adult educational opportunities should be available to all.

  • Since we do not seem to emphasize enough on education in the young, we should give them a chance in adult education especially for school dropouts. Everyone should have access to education at whatever age if they are interested.

  • Education should be a life long pursuit

  • Hi. I came across your blog for the first time about two months ago, and I’ve been an avid reader since. I just wanted to finally stop lurking!

  • I can say from experience I didnt graduate high school and i wish i did

  • everyone should have a chance to graduate from school. I know a guy who went to law school at 50 years old . how can u not respect that?

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