Adult Education - Characteristics


Programs provide one-to-one tutoring and small group sessions for adults at the 6th grade level or below. Public libraries, nonprofit organizations and school systems administer these programs across the country. Many adult education centers from community colleges receive grants from Welfare and Unemployment departments to offer training to welfare and unemployment recipients to help these individuals gain life and work skills to facilitate their return to the mainstream. They also provide programs for ex-offenders to reintegrate to society.

Educating adults differs from educating children in several ways. One of the most important differences is that adults have accumulated knowledge, work experience or military service that can add to the learning experience. Another difference is that most adult education is voluntary, therefore, the participants are generally better motivated.

Adults frequently apply their knowledge in a practical fashion to learn effectively. They must have a reasonable expectation that the knowledge recently gained will help them further their goals. One example, common in the 1990s, was the proliferation of computer training courses in which adults (not children or adolescents), most of whom were office workers, could enroll. These courses would teach basic use of the operating system or specific application software. Because the abstractions governing the user's interactions with a PC were so new, many people who had been working white-collar jobs for ten years or more eventually took such training courses, either at their own whim (to gain computer skills and thus earn higher pay) or at the behest of their managers.

In the United States, a more general example, and stereotypical, is that of the high-school dropout who returns to school to complete general education requirements. Most upwardly mobile positions require at the very least a high school diploma or equivalent. A working adult is unlikely to have the freedom to simply quit his or her job and go "back to school" full time. Public school systems and community colleges usually offer evening or weekend classes for this reason. In Europe this is often referred to as "second-chance", and many schools offer tailor-made courses and learning programs for these returning learners.

Those adults who read at the very lowest level get help from volunteer literacy programs. These national organizations provide training, tutor certification, and accreditation for local volunteer programs. States often have state organizations such as Literacy Florida!Inc., which provide field services for volunteer literacy programs.

In the USA, the equivalent of the high-school diploma earned by an adult through these programs is to pass the General Education Development (GED) exam.

Another fast-growing sector of adult education is English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), also referred to as English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Language Learners (ELL). These courses are key in assisting immigrants with not only the acquisition of the English language, but the acclimation process to the culture of the United States.

A common problem in adult education in the US is the lack of professional development opportunities for adult educators. Most adult educators come from other professions and are not well trained to deal with adult learning issues. Most of the positions available in this field are only part-time without any benefits or stability since they are usually funded by government grants that might last for only a couple of years.

Read more about this topic:  Adult Education

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