GLL – on Youngman’s Adult Education and Development Theory

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Third Way, Education, Marxism, Civil Society,

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

Link to blog

Link to forum

Youngman, F. (2000). Adult Education and Development Theory in The Political Economy of Adult Education & Development, (Chapter 4). London: Zed Press.


In general, I believe that Youngman’s chapter suggests a Marxist perspective, reflected in his language and the initial references to Marxist scholars and thinkers.

His writing advances a Marxist political economy, in that the author recognizes that the ruling capitalist forces negatively impact on development efforts the South.

I feel that Youngman sees adult education a system framed within existing societal structures rather than as a process of growth and development. In other words, Youngman seems to miss the important distinction between adult education (structure) and adult learning (potential societal and personal growth). For Youngman, the state holds the key to education. He glosses over the transformational approaches inherent in so called “populist education,” “people-centered development,” and “third way” thinking, and forcefully returns to Marxist doctrines of development.

Youngman views Civil Society as a promoter of adult education, though he presents it in juxtaposition to the state and sees it as subordinate to the state.

Although he recognizes the interrelations between many factors and issues, he fails to suggest a framework within which transformation can occur. His Marxist approach, as summarized at the end of Chapter 4, does not include any reference to cultural diversity; instead it reiterates issues and taxonomies that have historically belonged to past discourses of Marxist thought.

In this chapter, I see very little that could be called “new,” let alone “revolutionary.” Youngman seems to have a hard time in breaking free from the Marxist/Capitalist dichotomy.



GLL – State and Civil Society

COURSE: Global/Local Learning– GLL

FORUM: Samarbeta

TOPICS: local global learning, development, Third Way, Education, Marxism, Trent, active citizenship, co-participation

Step 2 – Part2: on Populism and Adult Education, Frank Youngman

Link to blog

Link to forum

Wonderful comments! Thank you.

I see how we get into troubles when we try to find a solution of universal applicability. When dealing with the complexity of the issues under discussion, I feel that there should be first a clear framing of local conditions (factors, stakeholders, agencies, state, goals, resources, outside influences, etc.). That would allow for contextual and systemic analysis that may yield different solutions to different areas.

One example. In my home area (The autonomous province of Trent) the provincial government is enacting education and learning policies in contrast to those put forth by the state (national government). In this regard, it is acting more as an entity akin to Civil Society, in that its actions are parallel but distinct to those of the state. However, view from within the provincial borders, the provincial government acts like a state, and deals with a complex and variegated  universe of local NGO’s, which diversifies educational opportunities for the people.

I believe there is merit in Gloria’s comments on whether Civil Society is indeed capable to sustain a viable system outside the state’s control (I am paraphrasing; I hope I am correctly interpreting Gloria’s thoughts). In my home region, the local provincial government is acting as the main reference agency, at the center of a web of other agencies and relevant relationships. I would agree with Gloria that, in that specific geographic, cultural, historic, social and environmental context, things are better served with the local government acting as a clearing house, making relevant laws – through political debate – that provide a shared framework for civil society.

Words that come to mind when thinking of such synergistic approach are — dialogue, inclusion, motivation, social capital, co-participation, and active citizenship. It also reminds me of a “connective model” for work and learning in general.

Link: A Roadmap to Work and Learning

FLIP: Similarities and differences in “good education”

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala 5

TOPICS: similarities and differences

WEEK 7 – TASK 2: Similarities and differences in “good education”

Link to blog

Share your ideas by (a) capturing one issue in 200-300 words using the following questions to prompt your selection AND (b) giving feedback on at least two people’s posting:

1) Similarities and differences that you see in your own and others’ representations around ‘good’ adult education?

I will summarize the differences and similarities found in the Koala group, and

add my comments. I will group them as follows:

Course requirements

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator)

Role of  English

Intercultural communication dimension

Our learning context / space

Course requirements:

Gursev and Kerrian talk about their difficulty in abiding by the words limit imposed for the written assignments. Jeanette also mentions having the feeling that she has forgotten all the readings.  Edouard talks about “heavy readings.”

Oscar shares Yolanda’s need for time efficiency and her task-oriented approach to work and learning.

Helga talks about the “being allocated to a group where other students don’t participate very much, or are on a different wave-length.”

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator):

Helga seems to be working full time in hers; I am working part-time, and Edouard is not currently working in education. Michiko, Oscar and Edouard recognize their marginality with respect to their respective educational professional practice. Michiko also talks about the “rubber band effect,” i.e the varying degree of proximity to the different subjects in the ALGC, and also mentions that she has “no background as a professional educator.”

Edouard talks about how other commitments may interfers with his participation.

Role of  English:

COMMENTS: There are varying levels of proficiency and comfort with regard to using English as our instructional language and main means of communication. I believe that such issue is understated, based on the assumption that proficiency is a requirement that was considered at the admission stage.

Helga is a native speaker; Oscar currently uses English as his first language but is aware of the implications related to being a non-native speaker; Edouard talks about ‘a lack of good command of english’.

Intercultural communication dimension:

We all see to share an approach embedded in multiple cultural experiences. We recognize the need for having intercultural communication embedded into our educational professional practice. Edouard advocates for closer examination of his country’s cultural assumptions.

Our learning context/space:

Helga talks about issues with the technology, others’ level of participation in group work, and “lack of response or lack of clear directions from some teachers.”

Oscar would add that – at least in this course – the amount of readings was fair and manageable. Issues with the technology side of Itslearning have been voiced by many.


A version of “good education” that would collate the similarities found in our group would include:

  • A manageable amount of readings (Oscar, Gursev, Jeanette), “less is better”
  • Less emphasis on group work (Helga, Oscar)
  • Relevance to personal capability envelop (Michiko, Helga, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Inclusion of Intercultural Communication components (Helga, Gursev, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Time-managed, task-oriented approach hopefully agreed upon by all (Oscar, Yolanda, Helga)
  • Available technology assistance to participants (Helga, Edouard, Kerrian)

2) What you see as missing or hidden in the representations?

Intercultural dimension:

As I pointed out at different stages of the ALGC since we started the program, there is an understated representation of our cohort’s intercultural communication dimension. Aside from recognizing the cultural and geographic diversity embedded in our program, little is offered in ways to interpret and deal with the nuances emerging from such diversity. I believe there is the assumption that “things will sort themselves out.” This dimension also includes issues related to our language of instruction – as mentioned above – and the cultural assumptions embedded in the Anglo-Saxon approach to higher education.

Pedagogical assumptions:

Another hidden representation is the ALGC is the pedagogical assumptions on which it is based. We have been exposed to several approaches to teaching, learning and working and had opportunities for discussing relevant issues, but there has been no indication about the pedagogical parameters that inform the ALGC. In the readings I found several learning contexts that may apply to the ALGC, but they are at times contradicting. In the past, the instructional “strategies” adopted in some courses clashed dramatically against the academic content and ensuing discussions, which has affected my learning, and left me confused and at a loss.

3) An example (eg. an image) that shows how your cultural embeddedness shapes your view or expectations of adult education? Try to make this explicit in writing for your group.

I see myself as a bridge. This is a metaphor that has been used by others (e.g. Alexander Langer) and in other settings (the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia; the Europabruecke in Tyrol) to convey the idea of connectedness across differences.

Mostar bridge

Mostar bridge

On International Education


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Larsen, international education,

Larsen, K. & Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2002). International Trade in Educational Services: Good or Bad? (link to Itslearning)

As amply explained in the article by Larsen et al., English-speaking countries clearly dominate the international education market in its different forms (in-country ed, distance ed, offshore ed).  International student mobility is firmly attracted to English-language learning experiences.

Educational pathways in other languages pursued by international students pale by comparison.

This reminds me of the expensive TOEFL test, now an almost universally mandatory application requirement for all non-English speaking students. There is no doubt that the private company that offers it has turned huge profits. It is virtually a world-wide monopoly. Not so long ago prospective students could prove their fluency in English in a variety of ways, including taking a free test upon arrival at their home university.  Things nowadays have changed dramatically.

Consequently, a huge market for English preparation classes ensued linked to a market for TESL instructors who are now required to obtain “proper credentials.” International education in English has turned into a multilayered business.

I also believe that the streamlining of application procedures and the setting of uniform application and language proficiency standards have contributed to limiting access to learning opportunities. Students with limited financial resources are for the most part excluded.

%d bloggers like this: