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A Public View of Adult Education

Description: In this study the public view of adult education in the United States was inferred from articles published in nationally distributed magazines. Two hundred twenty-eight articles from fifty-three non-professional magazines published in the United States from January 1,1970, through December 31, 1987, were reviewed. The articles were selected from those listed under "adult education," or cross referenced as "see also" under "adult education" in the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. The research questions were: What concept of adult education appears in the print media? To what extent is this view congruent with professional views of adult education? Leisure learning and literacy programs were prevalent and available from a variety of sources. Adult illiteracy was reported as a national concern. Programs that were commonplace (basic education, general equivalency degree classes, job skills training, and industrial training) were reported less often than new or novel programs. Most articles were positive in tone, promoting adult education activities as useful, rewarding, and enjoyable experiences, but ignored adult education as a professional field. The public view as reflected in the articles was positive with programs available to adults of many levels of educational attainment. The public view was not congruent with professional writings. Group activities were more in evidence than self directed learning. Learners tended to be urban, educated, and Caucasian. Although few programs restricted participation because of age or gender there were discernible groups of aged people and women. Programs were usually sponsored by institutions of higher education and entrepreneurs, and rarely by public school systems, community organizations, or cultural groups. Program content reflected adult interest in self improvement and entertainment rather than professional growth. To refine an understanding of the public view, further research focusing on other information sources such as national and regional newspapers and the electronic media is needed, making it ...
Date: December 1988
Creator: McCallister, Joe Michael