Adult Learning & Continuing Education is an emerging field that still has a long way to go in defining its discipline and securing its place in society. Yet there are significant points and challenges that must be understood.
A common challenge has been distinguishing itself from traditional elementary and secondary schooling, always known as kindergarten through highschool (K-12).
An important point is that although college education is included in the field, Adult Learning & Continuing Education focuses more on post-college instruction, continuing-professional education, and learning for multiple situations.
Overall, the distinctive quality of the field is both common and unique. Common like any other academic discipline such as law, medicine, and even K-12 education. But unique in looking from two perspectives: the perspective of expert and of experience.
For example, those who study law, do not often learn how to be a client; medical doctors study medicine, but not enough time concentrates on learning how to be a patient. K-12 educators learn how to teach programs, but not always about what it means to be a student. Perhaps that’s why many believe that lawyers are the worst clients, doctors are terrible patients, and it’s harder to teach a teacher.
But Adult Learning & Continuing Education is a discipline that must learn its practice through sharing its problems, using their experiences as a resource for answers. In this way, these adults become experts in discovering what kinds of learning works immediately and for what purpose, since results are coming from personal experiences.
So why is this important? Because this field has something to offer, especially to our children. It gives a second chance to reexamine how we learned as kids: To discover what worked; what didn’t; when we learned best; what kind of study habits were productive; or even whether we had study habits at all.
If society could see more of this value, then this field could be the research & development for education. K-12, for example, could benefit from findings that transform classes, programs and instruction, constructing more productive approaches for future education.
In this effort, the fundamentals of education would be explored where current K-12 teachers would be able to advance their lesson plans into subjects and technologies, where we as kids never learned or experienced.