Adult education

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Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. This is often done in the workplace, or through 'extension' or 'continuing education' courses at secondary schools, or at a College or University. The practice is also often referred to as 'Training and Development'. It has also been referred to as andragogy (to distinguish it from pedagogy). A difference is made between vocational education, mostly done in workplaces and mostly related to upskilling, and non-formal adult education, that can include learning skills or learning for personal development. (Wikipedia)

Adult learning, according to Knowles, can be stated as four simple postulates (Wikipedia, retrieved 15:28, 14 August 2007 (MEST))

  1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept and Motivation to learn).
  2. Experience (including mistakes) provides the basis for learning activities (Experience).
  3. Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life (Readiness to learn).
  4. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation to learning).


Brookfield (1995) identifies four major areas of research in adult learning.

See also:


Site with resources for practitioners


  • Conner, M. L. (1997-2007) "How Adults Learn." Ageless Learner, HTML, , retrieved 15:28, 14 August 2007 (MEST)
  • Brookfield, Stephan (1995). Adult Learning: An Overview, in n A. Tuinjman (ed.) (1995). International Encyclopedia of Education. Oxford, Pergamon Press. (Forthcoming) Preprint
  • Lieb Stephen (1991), Principles Of Adult Learning,
  • Knowles, Malcolm S; Elwood F. Holton and Richard A. Swanson, (1998). The Adult Learner: The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development (Managing Cultural Differences), Gulf Professional Publishing; 5 edition, ISBN 0884151158.
  • Smith, Mark K. (1999), Andragogy, infed, HTML, retrieved 15:28, 14 August 2007 (MEST). This is a good introductory text into Knowles' thoughts.--------

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