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Philosophical Statement on Education


  1. Philosophical statement on education

“Individuals inhabit a world made up of their own histories, narratives, emotions, physical sensations, thoughts, and beliefs with similar experiences interpreted differently” (Groen & Kawaliak, 2014, p. 129).


Experiential learning is the process by which individuals are consciously aware of a situation and make sense or try to make sense, of what they perceive (Jarvis, 2004). Experiential learning has afforded me the opportunity to gain knowledge and be able to directly apply that knowledge either in an educational setting, work, or towards self-development (Groen & Kawaliak, 2014). My adult education philosophy has been formed on the foundation and practice of experiential learning, and recently broadened by the theory of transformative learning. My philosophy agrees with Brookfield's (2001) assertion that the way in which adults are encouraged to learn, and are supported in that learning process is the single most significant component of adult education. Adult education I believe should be concerned with preparing individuals to succeed in life. Therefore, if there is to be an overarching function of adult education, it is to assist adults in gaining increased competence, to negotiate transitions in their social roles, and to assist in solving personal and community problems (Fredrick et al., 2005).

Transformative learning requires engagement in dialogue with others, which can only be achieved through relational learning that allows trustful relationships conducive for questioning, discussions, and open sharing of information towards an understanding that broadens perspectives (Taylor, 2007). This sounds simple enough, but society's pressures and expectations sometimes works against adult learning systems that are designed to place value on input of learners, or respect their space and inner most desires.  I believe there is so much the global community can offer to communities and societies by connecting different learning systems and ways of knowing through globalization and technology. Adult education can synergize these contributions in ways that are inclusive and integrative. It is important that all learning systems must take into considerations on how the individual-self interacts with learning by approaching learning with the lens of the individual self at the center of learning, learning within a collective, and learning that understands the simultaneous presence of cognition, emotion, and relationship in learning.  Adult education that seeks to support learners fulfil their life purpose and contribute to a just society need to have the following attributes.

  • It is important to recognize all learning efforts undertaken by the individual learner as a legitimate process of self-development, irrespective of pathway used whether it be self-directed learning, lifelong learning, experiential learning, transformative learning, and whether it is actualized through an educational institution, workplace, or informal setting.

  • “Within the individual lies the universal” (Holohan, 2019, p. 362 ).There should be a concerted effort to support adult learners preferring relational learning where interdependency, shared interests, and collective action are valued. Every person facilitating transformative learning must approach from a perspective that it is a multi-faceted process where learners are embedded in a complexity of relationships with self and others within a socio-cultural context.

  • We need to respect what every learner brings to any learning process and build an inclusive environment that encourages open discussions and interactions with multiple perspectives. Consciously recognizing the historical, social and cultural contingency of the learner is always at play. 

  • Learning systems must respect contributions of the entire body, mind, soul, and spirit  to the process of transformation. We must always honour the wholeness and interconnectedness of all things (Groen & Kawalilak, 2014). 

  • The field of adult education ought to integrate the relational, emotional, and cognitive domains because there is a need to seek deeper understanding of the role of subjective relationships, relational knowing, and affective learning. The assumption that the subject is stable and coherent ignores the dynamics of power, and other influences that impact on autonomy of the learner (Holohan, 2019; Taylor, 2007).

One must look at the results of adult education engaging cognition, emotions, and relational learning and its translation into practical terms. While I consider these aspects integral to building whole individual persons and resilient communities, it is not without anticipated challenges and risks. However, adult education offers immense potential for transformation.

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