MDDE613 Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

Course Objectives

After completing this course, you should be able to:
  • Understand the origins of the discipline of the modern practice of education.
  • Craft a well reasoned personal mission statement referring to the practice of adult education.
  • Consider thoughtfully the individual and social dimensions of adult learning.
  • Take a considered position on the philosophy and practices of self-directed learning.
  • Understand, and move towards a synthesis, of the different variants of social learning current in the discipline.
  • Identify different approaches to emancipatory learning, and make strong arguments for a particular variant.
  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of the learning society paradigm for our time.

Overview (link)

The focus of this course will be on mapping the territory of adult learning and investigating the significance of andragogy as unique approach to the education of adults. This course examines debates and controversies around self-directed learning. As well, it explores current thinking on social and collective learning. Emancipatory approaches to adult education and the discourse and practices of the learning society are also explicated.

The course addresses such questions as:
  1. What is the essential ingredient that marks adult learning off from other fields of study or disciplines?
  2. Can we integrate the multiplicity of adult learning into a coherent framework?
  3. What do we need to know, be and do as teachers of adults in multiple, varying contexts?
  4. What is the basis for the consuming interest adult educators have for the idea of self-directed learning?
  5. How do theorists execute the conceptual move from individual to social learning theory?
  6. What role does adult learning play in processes enlightenment, empowerment and emancipatory action?
  7. What cultural and institutional changes must be enacted for the vision of the just learning society to be enacted?

By the time you complete this course you should have at least some tentative and some developing answers to these and other questions. However it should be noted that you will not find one overarching model which will account for all adult learning.

Found Resource: All Things Adult Education Wikibook

Unit 1/2
Unit 3
Unit 4
Unit 5
Unit 6


References (Readings for the course.)**


  • Adult education: The Hamburg declaration. The agenda for the future. Fifth international (UNESCO) conference on adult education (14-18 July 1997). London: Sage Publishers.
  • Alcock, J. (1996). The propensity to believe. In P. Gross, N. Levitt, & M. Lewis (Eds.), The flight from science and reason (pp. 65-78). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Ambedkar, B.R. (2002). Buddha or Karl Marx. In D. S. Lopez Jr. (Ed.), A modern Buddhist bible: Essential readings from east to west (pp. 91-97). Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Bay, C. (1980). Human needs, wants and politics: Abraham Maslow, meet Karl Marx. Social Praxis, 7 (3-4), 233-252.
  • Brookfield, S. (1993). Self-directed learning: Political clarity, and the critical practice of adult education. Adult Education Quarterly 43(4), 227-242.
  • Candy, P. (1991). The growth and interest in self-directed learning. In P. Candy, Self-Direction for Lifelong Learning: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice (pp. 24-48). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Candy, P. (1991). What is self-directed learning? In P. Candy, Self-Direction for Lifelong Learning: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice (pp. 5-23). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Clark, C. and Wilson, A. (1991).Context and rationality in Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 41(2), 75-91.
  • Collins, M. (1995). Critical commentaries on the role of the adult educator: From self-directed learning to postmodernist sensibilities. In M. Welton (Ed.) In defense of the lifeworld: Critical perspectives on adult learning (pp. 71-97). Albany: SUNY Press.
  • Commission of Professors of Adult Education meeting, April 26, 1957, in Malcolm Knowles Papers, CPAE, box 18, October 1957, Syracuse University Archives.
  • Cropley, A. J. (1989). Lifelong education: Interaction with adult education. In C. Titmus (Ed.), Lifelong education for adults: An international handbook (pp. 9-12). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  • Draper, J. (2001). The metamorphoses of andragogy. In D. & A. Poonwassie, (Eds.), Fundamentals of Adult Education: Issues and practices for lifelong learning (pp. 14-30). Toronto: Thompson Publishers.
  • Edwards, R. (2005). Theory. In L. English (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 615-618). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Fay, B. (1987). Situating critical social science, (pp. 10-26); The basic scheme of critical social science, (pp. 27-41); The politics of critical social science I, (pp. 85-116). In B. Fay, Critical social science: Liberation and its limits. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Forrester, K. (1998). Adult learning: A key for the twenty-first century: Reflections on the UNESCO fifth international conference 1997. International Journal of Lifelong Education 17(6), 423-434.
  • Guile, D., & Young, M. (1998). Apprenticeship as a conceptual basis for a social theory of learning. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 50(2), 173-192.
  • Hall, B. (2006). Social movement learning: Theorizing a Canadian tradition. In T. Fenwich, T. Nesbit, & B. Spencer (Eds.), Contexts of adult education: Canadian perspectives (pp. 230-238). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishers.
  • Hart, M. (1990a). Critical theory and beyond: Further perspectives on emancipatory education. Adult Education Quarterly, 40(3), 125-138.
  • Hart, M. (1990b). Liberation through consciousness raising. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: A guide to transformative and emancipatory learning (pp. 47-71).John Wiley & Sons.
  • Hill, L. (2005). Community (of practice). In L. English (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 122-126). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hirschhorn, L., Gilmore, T., & Newell, T. (1989). Training and learning in a post-industrial world. In H. Leymann & H. Kornbluh (Eds.), Socialization and learning at work (pp. 185-200). Ashgate Publishing.
  • Kelly, J. (1998). Racialization: The social construction of race. In J. Kelly, Under the gaze: Learning to be black in white society, (pp. 26-57). Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishers.
  • Kelly, J. (2006). Building black identity and community. In T. Fenwich, T. Nesbit, & B. Spencer (Eds.), Contexts of adult education: Canadian perspectives, (pp. 49-57). Thompson Educational Publishing.
  • Leach, L. (2005). Self-directed learning. In L. English, (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 565-569). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Lengrand, P. (1989). Lifelong education: Growth of the concept. In C. Titmus (Ed.), Lifelong education for adults: An international handbook (pp. 5-9). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  • Leonard, S. (1990). Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy. In S. Leonard, Critical theory in political practice (pp. 134-166). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Livingstone, D. (Nov/Dec. 1999). Exploring the icebergs of adult learning: Findings of the first Canadian survey of informal learning activities. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 13/2, 49.
  • London, J. (1973). Correspondence between Knowles and London; and Adult education for the 1970s: Promise or illusion? In Malcolm Knowles Papers, box 25, file 13, Syracuse University Archives.
  • Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education, 32/1, 13-24.
  • Mezirow, J. (1995). Transformation theory of adult learning. In M. Welton (Ed.), In defense of the lifeworld: Critical perspectives on adult learning (pp. 39-70). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Nanda, M. (2002). Breaking the spell of Dharma: A case for Indian enlightenment. In M. Nanda, Breaking the spell of Dharma and other essays (pp. 103-116). New Delhi: Three Essays Press.
  • Nanda, M. (2003). A Dalit defense of the Deweyan-Buddhist view of science. In M. Nanda, Prophets facing backwards: Postmodern critiques of science and Hindu nationalism in India (pp. 181-203). New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  • Nesbit, T. Leach, L. and Foley, G. (2004). Teaching adults. In G. Foley, (Ed.) Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era (pp. 74-95). Crows Nest NSW: Allen and Unwin.
  • Norman, R. (2004). Introduction. In R. Norman, On humanism thinking in action (pp. 1-25). New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Pearson, E. & Podeschi, R. (1999). Humanism and individualism: Maslow and his critics. In Adult Education Quarterly 50(1), 41-55.
  • Plumb, D. and Welton, M. (2001). Theory building in adult education: questioning our grasp of the obvious. In D. & A.
  • Poonwassie, (Eds.), Fundamentals of Adult Education: Issues and practices for lifelong learning (pp. 63-75). Toronto: Thompson Publishers.
  • Pratt, D. (2005). Teaching. In L. English, (Ed.) International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp.610-615). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Reischmann, J. (2005). Andragogy. In L. English (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp.58-63). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Rubenson, K. (1982). Adult education research: In quest of a map of the territory. Adult Education, 32(2), 57-74.
  • Sork, T. and Newman, M. (2004). Program development in adult education and training. In G. Foley (Ed.), Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era (pp. 96-117). Crows Nest NSW: Allen and Unwin.
  • Stewart, D. (1987). What adult education means: Discovering and rediscovering the concept of andragogy. In D. Stewart, Adult learning in America: Eduard Lindeman and his agenda for lifelong education (pp. 103-112). Malabar, Florida: Robert Krieger Publishing.
  • Taylor, E. (1997). Building upon the theoretical debate: A critical review of the empirical studies of Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 48(1), 34-59.
  • Tennant, M. (1993). Perspective transformation and adult development. Adult Education Quarterly, 44(1), 34-42.
  • Welton, M. (2005). How business organizations learn and unlearn, p. 72-79. Inhibited learning in business organizations, p. 100-126. Ethics and empowerment in business organizations, p. 127-149. In M. Welton, Designing the just learning society: A critical inquiry. Leicester: NIACE.
  • Welton, M. (2005). Out of the margins, pp. 7-21; The discourse of the learning society in the twentieth century, pp. 22-43; Citizenship in the age of information, pp. 150-179; and The lifeworld curriculum: pathologies and possibilities, pp. 180-209. In M. Welton, 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.
  • Wenger, E. (1998). Introduction: A social theory of learning. In E. Wenger, Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity (pp. 3-17). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wilson, A. (2005). Activity theory. In L. English (Ed.,) International Encyclopedia of Adult Education (pp. 25-30). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.