Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Adult Education and Social Difference

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Arts, Open Communities and Adult Education

DESCRIPTION This unit is intended to foster a holistic and ‘social justice’ approach to adult education based on a valorisation of difference. The concept of difference is viewed in both its social and environmental dimensions. In terms of the social dimension of difference, or simply, ‘social difference’, the unit will tackle issues such as: who benefits from current adult educational provision and who is being excluded? Which particular cultures are being valorised and which cultures are marginalised? What effects do the dominant discourses, in adult education, have on the shaping of adult learners’ identities? Which particular social standpoints are to be taken on board if one is to help provide a genuinely democratic and inclusive adult education process? These questions are important if one is to educate for greater social justice and for the creation of a world not as it is but as it should and can be. It will be argued, however, that if we are to educate for a better world, our concerns should include an appreciation and valorisation of a broader sense of difference, namely bio-diversity. Any attempt to educate for change should focus on not only social relations, crucial though these may be, but also the wider and more holistic domain of human-earth relations. The issues of Social Class, Biodiversity, Ability, Gender, Age and Ethnicity (especially with regard to Migration in the context of globalisation), as well as Social Movements (that provide an important context for adult learning that affirms difference) are given great importance in this unit.

Study-Unit Aims:

- To generate sensitivity to social difference and biodiversity.
- To explore the role adult education plays or can play in the above context of difference.
- To explore different target groups engaged in adult education and the latter's potential in addressing these specific groups' needs and capabilities.
- To explore the individual and collective dimensions of adult education and learning.
- To discuss adult education in the context of the UN's sustainable development goals, addressed in a holistic manner.
- To reaffirm the international dimension of adult education.
- To extend students' thinking about adult education, and education more generally, beyond the anthropocentric framework.
- To forge links between social location and access to resources or otherwise (including poverty).

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- demonstrate, in thinking, writing and action, sensitivity to issues of difference viewed holistically.
- avoid ' one shoe fits all strategies' when thinking about and engaging in adult education activities.
- engage with issues concerning adult education and sustainable development, in keeping with the UN goals in this regard.
- engage with the burgeoning literature available on social difference and biodiversity, especially in the areas of class, gender/sexual orientation, age, 'race' /ethnicity, ability/disabling environments, religious belief, access to resources or otherwise...
- underline the collective, as well as individual, dimension of learning.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- critique policy discourse in the field in terms of its validation or homogenization of difference - its politics of inclusion or absence.
- articulate positions regarding adult education from a specific standpoint or interrelated standpoints.
- educate for social justice-oriented social change.
- help develop adult education projects that are inclusive.
- reveal the power dynamics and different interests involved in different approaches to adult education.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Leona English and Peter Mayo (2012), Learning with Adults. A Critical Pedagogical Introduction, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Peter Mayo (ed.) Learning with Adults. A Reader, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Waugh, Colin (2009) Plebs.The Lost Legacy of Independent Working Class Education. A Post-16 Educator occasional paper.

Supplementary Texts for consultation:

- Ali Abdi and Dip Kapoor (eds) (2009) Global perspectives on Adult Education. New York City (NY) and London: Palgrave-Macmillan.
- Darlene E. Clover, Budd L. Hall and Shirley Follen (Eds.) (2013). The Nature of Transformation Environmental Adult Education, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Leona English and Catherine Irivng (2015) Feminism in Community. Adult Education for Transformation, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Brian Finsden and Marvin Formosa (2011) Lifelong Learning in Later Life A Handbook on Older Adult Learning, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Griff Foley (Ed.) (2004) Dimensions of Adult Learning, Sydney: McGraw Hill/Open University Press.
- Budd L. Hall, Darlene E. Clover, Jim Crowther and Eurig Scandrett (Eds.) (2012) Learning and Education for a Better World: The Role of Social Movements, Rotterdam, Boston & Taipei: Sense Publishers.
- Edmund O’Sullivan, Amish Morrel and Mary Connor (eds.) (2002), Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave; Toronto: Transformative Learning Centre, OISE/University of Toronto.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Essay SEM2 Yes 100%


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.