In today’s world of high technologies and in the informative society era, it is extremely important to be a well-educated and modern person in order to occupy the niche in a particular segment of social life and economic activity. That is why adult learning is a constant process for the person of the 21st century.
First of all, in the scope of this research paper, it is important to rely on the fact that adult learning (or adult education) puts an emphasis on the critical reflection on assumptions, contextual understanding, and on the validate meaning by assessing reasons. Jack Mezirow considers that the core essence of human knowledge and beliefs, values, and feelings is covered by historical, cultural, and biographical contexts. The author considers that these factors are embedded into the human brain. That is why educators should put an emphasis on the process of the education program development; on the fact that human understandings and beliefs are considered to be more dependable in the cases when the opinions and interpretations are produced and these issues, in turn, are more justifiable than those opinions, which are mainly based on the understandings and beliefs of other people.
Adult Learning Models
There are four making meaning models identified by Bruner (1996). They are the following: (1) intersubjectivity establishment, it’s shaping, and maintenance; (2) interrelation of the set of events, behavior, and utterances to the undertaken actions; (3) constructing of particulars in the normative context, which deals with the meaningful relative obligations, deviations, standards, and conformities. The last model implies proposition development – when the rules of the symbolic, conceptual and syntactic system are applied into the practice in order to get the decontextualized meanings, which include the logic and the rules of inference, and such distinctions as the object-attribute, whole part and identity-otherness.
Jack Mezirow puts an emphasis on the fact that transformative learning implies the process of participation in the constructive discourse in order to apply the experience of other people for accessing the reasons, which allow justifying the assumptions of each particular individual. According to Mezirow (2000), people make an action decision relying on the resulting insight.
According to the approach developed by Habermas in 1984, there are two key domains of learning (instrumental learning and communicate learning), which have different purposes: criteria of rationality, the logic of inquiry, and validating beliefs models.
In order to be successful in adult learning, it is important to look for such points of view, which challenge the prevailing norms of the dominative culture in the light of gender, class, race, environmental protection, technology, etc. One of the arguments to support this approach is the fact that the agreement, which is based on the unchallenged cultural norms, would be less informed and dependable in comparison to those, which is based on the wider range of practical experience.
When referring to the approach developed by Sharan B. Merriam, Rosemary S. Caffarella, Lisa M. Baumgartner, it is possible to say that the adult developmental characteristics should be considered and analyzed from the following perspectives: psychological change, biological aging, the impact of the sociocultural factors on the development of personality and finally, the integrative paradigm of a human being.
In order to reach a better understanding of the interrelation between adult development and adult learning, Sharan B. Merriam, Rosemary S. Caffarella, and Lisa M. Baumgartner have suggested the educators to reject the multiple explanations of the adulthood essence for adults and substitute it with relying on one or two paradigms. It is essential for the educators to understand and to know the changes, which take place in human life and their impact on the ability to be educated and to manage and get additional knowledge in a particular age.
The last issue to be discussed in the scopes of adult education is the self-direction in learning, which has been investigated by Ralph Grover Brockett and Roger Hiemstra. These authors consider such approach as the style of life and as the basic idea for successful educative process both for educators and for educated adults (Brockett et al, 1991).
The authors claim that self-directed education should be considered as a lifelong learning perspective. It is not appropriate to consider lifelong learning as an exclusive domain of the adult educators because it mainly refers to the learning process, that, in turn, takes place throughout the entire lifespan. Kidd (1973) has supported this approach in the following manner: “It has often been said that the purpose of the adult education or of any kind of education, is I make the subject a continuing “inner-directed” self-operating learning”. Also, there is one more method of self-directed learning monitoring – 2*2 matrix – which has been offered by Mocker and Spear (1982). This matrix is mainly based on the learner vs. institutional control over the core objectives, stated by the educational plan.
To conclude, it is important to put an emphasis on the fact that adult education is investigated in different contexts – its core-specific features, the factors, which should be taken into account while following the educational program, and applying the educational approaches to the practice. Finally, the ways of its effective monitoring are also developed by the scholars in order to evaluate the most effective approach towards the particular person, one’s needs, rate of responsibility, and initial natural abilities.