Is there just one essential ingredient in the field of adult education or should it be considered as one essential process of adult education? Can a recipe be perfected with just one ingredient, or is it a mixture of many: social movements, history, lifelong learning, technological impact, diversity, the recognition of differing learning styles and the role of the adult educator? My opinion is that there are many ingredients in the field of adult education but without ‘respect’ the recipe may not be as appetizing.
Respect is required as the foundation to build a learning society. Simultaneously to achieve a learning society, lifeworlds must be provided with the right nutrients for growth (Welton, 2005, p.183). Individuals need love and caring to flourish. This care must be provided by a community. A weak community may have difficulty in providing love, care and compassion. To build a strong, healthy community requires individuals that have the strength to care, and to share this strength. Dr. Seuss (1971) wrote that to save the trees we need someone that cares, who will plant the last seed and nourish it. To build individual strength requires respect for oneself. Self-respect permits persons to declare that they are entitled to the same status and treatment as every other person (Welton, 2005, p.205). Respect will help achieve a ‘social learning infrastructure’ (p.214).
To build respect into the recipe of adult education requires a common goal of formulating a learning infrastructure from all involved including adult educators, professors, institutes, government, businesses and society. Those involved need to support, collaborate, mentor and be committed to building a learning infrastructure. If respect to build a learning infrastructure is internalized, this respect will shine through in instruction and to the learners.
Seuss, T. (1971). The Lorax. Random House
Welton, M. (2005). Designing the Just Learning Society: A Critical Inquiry. Leicester: NIACE
Welton, M. R. (1987). Vivisecting the nightingale: Reflections on adult education as an object of study. Studies in the Education of Adults 19(1), 46-68.