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Assignment Questions

Historical Overview of Adult Education in the United States

You are to write a 1-page paper. Read the article below. Please respond to the 3 questions. State the question first and then continue to answer the question(s). *Do Not Use Outside Sources*

Thompson provides a historical overview of adult education in the United States. Historians of course can’t include everything in the fields past.

1.What ‘should’ be included in adult education histories?
2.How is the purpose behind writing a history related to ideas about the purpose of the field?
3.Does knowing our history even matter?


History is often thought of as “the past” or as a record of the past; to view history from this perspective is to lose sight of the degree to which intentional selection and multiple motivations play a role in the construction of this concept, however. A more constructive view of history involves viewing it not as a subject for study but as a process of selecting and arranging evidence in order to interpret and explain human actions. Just as the actions and events of the past were determined by the personal biases and motivations of historical figures (major and minor), the written interpretation of those actions and events is based on the biases and motivations of the historian. The relevance of both doing history (to the historian) and reading history (to the student of history) comes from the resulting ability to more fully construct, understand, and evaluate past, present and future choices which a more complete understanding of this process brings ( Johnson, n.d.). Because human development is a continuous process in which the present is informed by both the known past and the projected future, adult education professionals must have a knowledge and understanding of the history of their field; only in this way will the professional decisions and choices they make have validity in more than a limited, time constricted sense. The standard histories of adult education provide an inadequate basis for present evaluations and decision making because they present only a limited, culturally biased assessment of what and who was important in the history of this field: a picture only of the “big trees”.

This paper has three goals: 1) to review the standard history of adult education and the image of the field which it evokes; 2) to provide examples of “neglected histories” that exemplify alternative perspectives on the field; and 3) to discuss the importance of developing a more balanced history of adult education.

Colonial Period
Several factors in the social setting of colonial America encouraged educational activities for adults. Many settlers were members of political or religious minority groups looking for increased opportunity, opportunity more likely to favor those with either increased practical knowledge or higher levels of formal education than had been available to common citizens in England and Europe. Protestant religious groups generally promoted literacy (although often defined as the ability to read only, rather than to read
and write) as a necessary tool for Bible reading and enhanced spirituality. Finally, the strong work ethic prevalent in the colonies encouraged education; the idea that ignorance begets idleness was a compelling argument for the need for intellectual development (Knowles, 1977). Standard historians of adult education cite Cotton Mather’s Essays To Do Good (1710) as an early example of the promotion of adult educational activity in the New World. In these essays Mather discusses the importance of cooperative efforts to benefit society. He advises the organization of discussion groups to deal with current problems
and suggests the use of specific questions as the basis for discussion. Four of the questions proposed by Mather follow:
1. Is there any particular person whose disorderly behavior may be so scandalous and so notorious that it may be proper to send him our charitable admonition?
2. Can any further methods be devised that ignorance and wickedness may be chased from our people in general; and that domestic piety, in particular, may flourish among them?
3. Is there any instance of oppression or fraudulence, in the dealings of any sort of people, which may call for our efforts to prevent it in future?
4. Is there any matter to be humbly recommended to the legislative power, to be enacted into a law for the public benefit? (Mather,1710, p. 16-17).

In these questions we see an early, faint foreshadowing of familiar adult educationconcerns: self- actualization, the use of education to cure social ills, and a desire to influence social policy. Seventeen years later, Benjamin Franklin elaborated on Mather’s idea in establishing a “mutual improvement” society, the Junto. This group based their discussions on questions almost identical to those proposed by Mather. Additionally, each member of the society was responsible for generating in turn a question on morals, politics, or natural philosophy. Every three months members were required to write and present an essay on any subject as a stimulus to group debate. Membership in the Junto, which existed for thirty years, was limited to twelve ( Grattan, 1955).

Several other institutions provided educational opportunities to adults in colonial America. Private vocational schools, the predecessors of modern commercial trade schools and business colleges, were the chief sources of vocational education for adults. Subscription libraries provided books for the intellectual stimulation of those adults who could both read and afford the subscription fees. Agricultural societies, first established in the mid-eighteenth century, provided a vehicle for the exchange of agricultural
knowledge (Knowles, 1977). The general trend during the colonial period was away from the theologically based knowledge that had previously been the focus of most educational activities toward more secular, liberal, and utilitarian knowledge. In attempting to improve on the social and political traditions of Europe, American colonists devised educational activities appropriate for a new society.

Diffusion Of Knowledge In The New Nation
The period between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War saw a variety of social changes that influenced both the availability and type of educational activities for adults in the United States. Universal male suffrage (limited, however, to white males) argued for a more educated citizenry. Western expansion led to fewer distinctions between social classes and thus to changed opinions as to what was considered appropriate levels and areas of study. The industrial revolution promoted competitiveness and upward mobility, thus motivating many individuals to raise their level of education in order to take advantage of new opportunities. The urbanization and high levels of immigration which accompanied industrialization resulted in social and political conditions which increased the need for educational activities and programs for adults (Knowles, 1977). Privately Sponsored Activities According to Malcolm Knowles (1980), adult education activities before the Civil War can best be characterized as attempts at the diffusion of general knowledge. The influence of the European Enlightenment on the perceived value and importance of secular and scientific thought resulted in the founding of numerous institutions for spreading this “new” knowledge. Among those early institutions were the:

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1780
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1791
Boston Mechanics Institute, 1826
Franklin Institute, 1828
Lowell Institute, 1836
Smithsonian Institution, 1846
First Public Library, 1848
Cooper Union, 1859

Although the mechanics institutes and mercantile libraries were established to serve only a limited population (young merchants and merchant’s clerks and mechanics and apprentices), other institutions were intended to disseminate knowledge in philosophy, natural history, the arts, and the sciences to the general public. The delivery by outstanding literary, religious, and educational figures of cultural or educative lectures or lecture series was based on the idea that “lectures can play a creative role in adult life” (Grattan, 1955), an idea which still prevails today. Many of the voluntary associations and agencies which were established during this period provided educational activities for their clients or members. Groups devoted to specific “causes”–abolition, temperance, suffrage–also engaged in educational activities designed to recruit new members and to inform the general public about particular social or political issues.

Publicly Sponsored Activities
Opportunities for agricultural education increased during the era before the Civil War. Farmers Institutes under the jurisdiction of state boards of agriculture provided direct instruction to farmers about technological improvements in farming. The Morrill Act of1861 provided federal support for Land Grant Colleges to teach agricultural and mechanical arts to the local citizenry, thus bringing higher education into close contact with the problems and needs of the people. Public evening schools made their appearance in a “highly unstable and often rather informal” form in the second twenty-five years of the nineteenth century (Knowles, 1977,p. 27). These early schools were intended to serve boys who had been forced to leave school to work and adults who had never received an adequate elementary education.
The curriculum was in no way tailored to the needs of adult students, but was rather are petition of courses offered during the day (Knowles, 1977).

The first national adult education program was introduced in 1836. The Lyceum movement, initiated by Josiah Holbrook, was intended to aid in the general diffusion of knowledge and the advancement of education in the public schools. Holbrook enumerated the advantages of Lyceums:
1. The improvement of conversation
2. Directing amusements
3. Saving of expense
4. Calling into use neglected libraries, and giving occasion for establishing new ones
5. Providing a seminary for teachers
6. Benefiting academies
7. Increasing the advantages and raising the character of district schools
8. Compiling of town histories
9. Town maps
10. Agricultural and geological surveys
11. State collections of minerals (Holbrook, 1829)

Lyceum “exercises” were conducted “in several different ways, to suit the wishes and acquirements of those who compose[d] them” (Holbrook, p. 28). Oral reading, biographical sketches, conversation and questions on various subjects, and lectures were among the methods of sharing knowledge commonly employed by Lyceum members. By 1835 there were approximately 3,000 town lyceums presenting weekly lecture discussions .The national system faded out after 1839, but many town and county lyceums continued to flourish up to the time of the Civil War. After the War, other groups such as women’s clubs and literary societies continued the practice of providing popular public lectures. The Lyceum movement can be credited with leaving several conceptual and methodological legacies to future adult education endeavors (Knowles, 1980).
Diffusion Of Organizations In The Maturing Nation
Between 1866 and 1920, the United States experienced tremendous physical, intellectual, and economic growth. Concurrently, the country changed from primarily agrarian and rural to primarily industrial and urban. New knowledge, new theories of social development, and changing social conditions combined to suggest the need for both more extensive and more varied adult educational activities than had been available in the past.

According to Knowles (1980, p. 15), the period between the Civil War and World War I might best “be characterized as the diffusion of organizations” for adult educational activities. Each year saw the founding of several new organizations dedicated to personal or social improvement; most included a formal or informal educational component. Chautauqua And Correspondence Study Of the educational programs established during this period, Chautauqua Institution was undoubtedly the most ambitious. Founded in 1874 by the Reverend John Heyl Vincent, secretary ;of the Methodist Sunday School Union and Lewis Miller, a businessman, Chautauqua was originally conceived as a summer normal school for
Sunday school teachers (Grattan, 1955). The belief that a wide variety of liberal, secular knowledge would benefit the populace soon caused a shift in the emphasis of instruction, however. Literature, science, history, and other cultural subjects became the foundation of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, established in 1878.

Believing that education should come “alike to the door of want and of wealth”(Vincent, p. 63) and that “the whole of life is a school” (p. 72), Vincent, with the help of William Rainey Harper (who later became president of The University of Chicago) developed a national system of home study based on local study groups or individual study. Students read from the required reading list, prepared answers to instructors’
questions, wrote essays, and took final exams. Between 1874 and 1894, ten thousand local study groups were established. Over 300,000 students enrolled in the C.L.S.C between 1874 and 1918, and approximately 50,000 fulfilled the four year course of study required for graduation from the program (Grattan, 1955).The idea of study at home, or correspondence study, was adopted by other private
institutions. The largest of these, the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1891. Many public universities also developed correspondence departments to serve students who were unable to attend classes on campus (Knowles, 1980).

Social Service Organizations
The second half of the nineteenth century was marked by the establishment of a variety of social service agencies, many of which incorporated the idea of using education to alleviate or solve social problems. The YMCA, originally established in 1851, experienced tremendous growth in the 1860’s. The Association, which established libraries and offered evening classes for study and improvement, soon became known as the “college of the people” (Cremin, 1988, p. 92). By 1913, seventy three thousand
students, most of them adults, were enrolled in Y classes. Courses included elementary school subjects for boys and young men who had left school in order to work, courses in English and American citizenship for immigrants, and industrial courses to prepare students for various jobs. The YWCA, established a few years later, offered a similar program of formal educational activities which were divided between traditional women’s subjects such a sewing and homemaking and vocational preparation in fields that had traditionally been closed to women: telegraphy, bookkeeping, and commercial art
(Cremin, 1988).

The College Settlement Association (1887) established settlement houses in urban neighborhoods in order to teach city-dwellers “to learn how to live together and to secure good living conditions”(Knowles, 1977, p. 66). Settlement houses were run primarily by college educated-women as a tool to energize the community into becoming an educative and curative force. Settlement workers rejected the traditional restrictive view of education as the transmission of knowledge from superior expert teachers to ignorant
learners. Instead, they believed in mutual education: a two-way exchange of knowledge. Although lectures were sometimes employed, primary emphasis was on discussion of topics interesting or important to adult neighborhood residents. As Jane Addams remarked, students did not want to hear about simple things; they wanted “to hear about great things, simply told” (Cremin, p. 175-76).

Public Institutions
Evening schools, which had begun tentatively in the first half of the nineteenth century, became more common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Knowles (1977) notes several trends relating to the development of evening schools during this period:
1. Enrollments and ages of participants increased
2. Americanization education was increasingly emphasized
3. Vocational offerings were expanded
4. The number of secondary and college courses increased with the advent of
Evening high schools
5. Experimental informal adult education activities began to be offered

By World War I, evening schools were an accepted part of the adult education scene, and were generally tax supported. University extension, an educational development with profound implications for adult education, was first instituted by the University of the State of New York in 1891. Although a few universities experimented in the late 1800’s with the idea that state funded universities had responsibilities to its citizens other than the transmission of a cultural heritage to traditional college-aged youth, the extension movement did not gather much force until 1906. In that year the University of Wisconsin created a University Extension division which emphasized subjects concerned with the problems of the people of the state: problems relating to agriculture, industry, politics, and society. The goal of
university extension became carrying the University to the homes of the people…to give them what they
need–be it the last word in expert advice; courses of study carrying university credit; or easy lessons in cooking and sewing. University extension…offers the benefits of research to the household and the
workshop, as well as to municipalities and the state (Louis E. Reber, Director for University Extension, University of Wisconsin, 1907; cited in Grattan, 1955, p. 193).

The university extension movement was based on the idea that the knowledge coming out of public universities should benefit the public who financed its discovery and that education could be a means to the end of enhancing the quality of life for the average citizen.

Training In The Workplace
The beginning of the twentieth century saw the adoption of programs that viewed education as a means to another end: efficiency in the workplace. The idea of scientific management developed by Frederick W. Taylor in the 1880’s was appealing to the business community, and employee education was seen as the best means of increasing the efficiency he promoted. Programs to teach business skills and methods and to promote discipline and obedience were adopted by many businesses and industries. The National
Association of Corporation Schools was organized in 1913 to help businesses develop programs. A typical program, such as that offered by the John Wanamaker Commercial Institute to Wanamaker employees, included courses in reading, writing, arithmetic, English, spelling, stenography, commercial geography, commercial law, and business methods. By offering educational programs, employers hoped not only to increase corporate efficiency but also to promote employee loyalty. Providing educational services to employees and, in many cases, to their families was part of the business world’s effort
to forestall unionization. Employers hoped that provision of educational activities would lead not only to increased levels of technical skill but to the general advancement of Americanization and to stable family life, as well. Increased satisfaction and stability would obviate the desire of employees to organize (Cremin, 1988).

Governmental Involvement In Adult Education
Governmental involvement in adult education increased in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 specified that federal funds be combined with state monies to develop and implement a cooperative agricultural extension service. By this means scientific knowledge developed in the land grant colleges and agricultural experiment stations could be transmitted not only through courses at the colleges but also by way of demonstrations and publications to rural families. Programs were not limited to agricultural concerns, but rather dealt with all aspects of rural life; the goal of the Cooperative Extension Service was to help families attain greater ability in maintaining more efficient farms and better homes; greater ability in acquiring higher incomes and levels of living on a continuing basis; increased competency and willingness, by both adults and youth, to assume leadership and citizenship responsibilities; and increased ability and willingness to undertake organized group action when such will contribute effectively to improving their welfare (Knowles, 1977, p. 90).

By 1960 there were over 14,000 county agents, home demonstration agents, and subject matter specialists working with almost sixteen million families (55% urban, by this date), making this program the largest adult education endeavor in the world. The contribution of the Cooperative Extension Service to the field of adult education has been profound on both theoretical and methodological levels. The Service pioneered in the development of materials and methods tailored to adult learners; it perfected techniques of home visitation and demonstration; it developed methods for the systematic evaluation of educational activities; it actively involved adults in the planning and implementation of their learning projects; and it refined procedures for preparing and pretesting teaching aids, in-service training materials, reports of educational research, and subject-matter publications at appropriate reading levels. This practice of making the learner the focus of educational activities provided the basis for later adult education theory and practice (Knowles, 1977). World War I stimulated continued government interest in adult education. The Smith- Hughes Act (1917), passed in answer to the need for skilled workers in war industries, provided for federal funds to be combined with state and local fund for the expansion of agricultural, trade, and industrial education, principally through the public schools. “By introducing into our educational system the aim of utility, to take its place in dignity by the side of culture” (Commission on National Aid to Vocational Education, 1917), this piece of legislation resulted in vocational education becoming a primary focus of adult education.

Further federal support was necessitated by the Depression and World War II. Adult education programs developed by the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Tennessee Valley authority served many thousand unemployed adults (Knowles, 1980), and the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, popularized higher education by financing the higher education of thousands of adults (primarily men) who would not otherwise have
considered a college education possible (Cremin, 1988). The 1960s were a time of increasing federal legislative and financial support for adult education. The Area Redevelopment Act of 1961 and the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 provided training for those persons who became technologically unemployed or who were affected by shifts in labor demand. The Economic Opportunity
Act (1964) established the Adult Basic Education program to provide people eighteen years of age and older a chance to develop the reading, writing, language, and mathematical skills necessary to find employment. Administered by the U.S. Office of Education after 1966, this program provided funds to state and local educational agencies for instruction, employment and training of qualified teachers, and for development and implementation of curricula and techniques appropriate for adult students (Knowles,

In 1975 Senator Walter Mondale introduced the Lifelong Learning Act, intended to support research and development, teacher training, curriculum development, development of techniques for teaching and counseling adults, and the identification of the educational needs of the elderly population (Knowles, 1980). Mondale was elected vice-president in the next election, and Congress passed the Act. However, adequate funding for the implementation of its proposals was never approved. Governmental commitment to financial support for education decreased during the Reagan administration; only the ABE program maintained its level of funding. As a result of the redefinition of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) to the Job Training Partnership Act (JPTA) the balance of support for training and retraining programs shifted from the government to private industry (Stubblefield and Keane, 1989).

Institutionalization Of Adult Education
Stubblefield (1988) characterizes the period between the two World Wars as a time of institutionalization of adult education, a period during which a primary focus was to determine the direction adult education should take as a new agency in American life. The establishment of the American Association for Adult Education (AAAE), financed by the Carnegie Corporation; increased research on adult learning; and establishment of graduate programs in adult education combined to precipitate a change in direction for adult education; it was no longer “a movement oriented primarily toward social reform” but rather a “more purely educational undertaking…a profession” (Cotton, 1964, p. 81). This change in focus was the source of considerable disagreement within the field. On the one side were those who, like Morse A. Cartwright and Lyman Bryson, foresaw danger in identifying adult education too closely with social action. The other side was represented by Eduard Lindeman, Alexander Meilke john, and others, who regarded adult educationas a means of making adults intelligent about their situations in life in order that
they could apply what they learned to improve society (Stubblefield and Keane, 1989). Cotton (1964, p. 84) suggests that what emerged from this conflict was a “sophisticated and mature” orientation toward the goals and potentialities of adult education, an orientation which viewed the development and implementation of “socially significant”, rather than social action, programs as the “ultimate objective” of adult education. That this debate remains unresolved today is evidenced by the current special topic
AEDNET forum initiated by Jack Mezirow. Mezirow characterizes adult education as a field envisioned by our founders and past leaders as one of great promise for democracy, social justice, equality, freedom and community development by helping adult learn how to more effectively participate in critical discourse on public issues and in collective efforts to improve their communities and make our social institutions more responsive to citizen needs (Mezirow, 1990, p. 1). He continues by expressing profound concern over the “drift” of the field from its early social commitment to its current “market-driven” state and calls on the professoriate of the field to actively foster a consensus on and efforts toward social goals by defining priorities and allocating resources.

The Image Of Adult Education
A reading of the standard histories of adult education gives a hint of the uphill battle facing Jack Mezirow and his supporters. While he views the social action programs of the past as “one of our proudest legacies”, the historians of the field virtually ignore them. Little more than passing mention is made of women educators and their contribution to the field, of education in socialist movements, of the education of African American adults, or of worker’s education (Cunningham, 1989). Additionally, programs which could be viewed from a modern perspective as culturally imperialistic or oppressive (assimilation of American Indians, Americanization of immigrants) are reported with no discussion of related ethical questions. As a result of the subjective choices made in reporting an image emerges from these standard histories of a field established, developed, and practiced almost exclusively by white, middle-class males for the purpose of implementing their view of the good society.

Adult education was defined in 1936 by Lyman Bryson as “all activities with an educational purpose that are carried on by people engaged in the ordinary business of life” (Bryson, 1936, cited in Grattan, p. 3); the ethnocentric biases of adult educationhistorians have left many of these activities unreported or undervalued, however. Examination of some of these activities and programs can provide useful perspectives on the field . What follows is merely a representative sampling of “neglected” adult educationhistories; no claim to comprehensiveness or cohesiveness is intended. That the people
and programs described here would have as strong a claim to a place in the history of adult education as have the “big trees” of the standard histories seems obvious. As W. E. Williams pointed out in his survey of the British adult education scene earlier in the century, “the big trees [are] far from being the only valuable parts of the forest….much of the true vitality of the forest [is] to be found elsewhere” ( Williams, 1934, cited in Grattan, 1955).

Neglected Histories
Anne Hutchinson
Anne Hutchinson was a learned reader of the Bible, mother of 12, and mid-wife who held weekly meetings in her home to discuss the minister’s sermons. Sister’s Anne’s influence grew among the women of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and women soon started bringing their husbands to participate in the discussions. Sister Anne’s fate differed from that of Cotton Mather, a later discussion leader: male community leaders halted the talks and Hutchinson was excommunicated and banished. She was later killed by Indians (Sochen, 1974).

Adult Education Among Quakers
Quaker’s have long been pioneers in women’s and adult education. Among Quakers, parents were held responsible for the education of their children; for this reason the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was, by the middle of the eighteenth century, providing schooling for poor parents whose lack of education made them unable to properly educate their children. In 1778, Anthony Benezet, a Philadelphia Quaker, established a grammar school for the purpose of educating rural women who were responsible for providing their children with a basic education. After 1790, women ministers began advocating advanced education and teacher training for women to enable them to “assume responsibility for educating the poor, blacks, and women, even at advanced levels” (Schwager, 1987).

Black Literary Societies
Free blacks established many literary societies in the early and mid 1800’s. Some of the expressed purposes of these societies were: the stimulation of reading and the spreading of useful knowledge by providing libraries and reading rooms, the encouragement of expressed literary efforts by providing audiences as critics and channels of publication for their literary productions and the training of future orators and leaders by means of debates(Porter, 1936, p. 557).One of the most ambitious of these organizations, the Phoenix Society (1833) of New York City, was “designed to be the soul of the entire [black] population and their friends in the city.” Its goal was “to promote the improvement of the colored people in morals, literature, and the mechanical arts”. Projects included a library, reading room and exhibition hall; historical and scientific lectures; ward societies for mutual aid in the community; and an evening school for adults (Porter, 1936; p. 555-56).The development of these societies was necessitated by the race relations of the time. Blacks were generally unwelcome in white literary societies. In Massachusetts, for example, Charles Sumner and Ralph Waldo Emerson canceled an engagement to speak at a local Lyceum when it became known that black patrons were not granted the same privileges as whites. Although most of these societies were short-lived, they served several positive purposes during their existence: they helped to disseminate knowledge among a poorly educated population; they encouraged many Blacks to start private libraries; they trained individuals for community leadership; and they were frequently the background for the organization of schools for Blacks. In all of these activities, Black organizers provided ample evidence of an ability to develop and implement self-educative activities.

Freedmen’s Schools
Following the Civil War, schools to teach the children of freed slaves were established by several public and private organizations. By 1870, over 3,000 teachers–white and black teachers from the North and white teachers from the South–were engaged in this effort. Although the overwhelming majority of the teachers were female, leadership and supervisory positions were reserved for males. This policy was strictly enforced, even in cases in which women were better suited by credentials, experience, or
temperament to lead (Jones, 1979).

Many of the teachers operated night schools for the purpose of educating the newly freed black population in the knowledge and attitudes necessary for them to be assimilated into their proper place in American society. This goal caused considerable resentment among Southern whites, who viewed these teachers as an “invasion force “attempting to recreate Blacks in their own image in order to control the power of the Black vote, and thus the destiny of the South (Morris, 1981).Tuskegee Normal And Industrial Institute
Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee in 1881 to provide industrial and teacher training to Black men and women. Other courses of study included English, reading, composition, mathematics, geography, history, government and law, bookkeeping, natural science, philosophy, music, and religion. Classes were held during the day for students able to attend full time; night classes were available for those who worked during the day (Gyant, 1988).Washington, with the assistance of George W. Carver, also established the Tuskegee Agricultural Experiment Station. This Movable School Project traveled around rural Alabama to teach men and women new agricultural methods, animal husbandry, home gardening, disease prevention, and improved methods of food preparation. Additionally, students from the school went into rural areas to teach adults to read and to understand the value of education for themselves and their children (Gyant, 1988).

Tuskegee Woman’s Club
The Tuskegee Woman’s Club was founded by Mrs. Washington for the purpose of promoting the “general intellectual development of women.” Although as exclusive in membership as many of its white counterparts, the Club became actively involved in community affairs. A plantation settlement that included Sunday school classes, organized boys’ and girls’ clubs, sewing classes for girls, mothers’ clubs, and newspaper reading clubs for the men was established in 1898. A public library and reading room was
started in 1901, and the Town Night School a few years later. This school provided the opportunity for many men and women to receive academic and industrial training(Neverdon-Morton, 1982).The Club served as a vehicle for community self-help, as well. Woman’s Club members began to engage in home visits in Tuskegee in order to teach women how to better care for their families and maintain their homes. Mothers’ meetings to discuss home management, child care, and marital concerns were held every week. When black women began increasingly to seek the right to vote, political educationwas added to the program to insure that they could vote as informed citizens (Neverdon-Morton, 1982).The Bryn Mawr Summer School For Women Workers In Industry The Bryn Mawr Summer School, established in 1921 through the combined efforts of women leaders in labor and education, was based not on a narrow, utilitarian view of workers’ education but rather on a belief in the rights of all individuals to self development in terms of both culture and economic value. The purpose of the program was to offer young women in industry opportunities to study liberal subjects and to train themselves in clear thinking; to stimulate an active and continued interest in the problems of our economic order; to develop a desire for study as a means of understanding and of enjoyment in life. The Summer School was to be committed to no particular theory or dogma; discussion and teaching were to be free and open to enable students to gain insight into the problems of industry and into their potential to help solve those problems (Constitution of the Bryn Mawr Summer School, 1922).The statement of purpose and the original curriculum–economics, English, history, literature, hygiene, science, and music appreciation–reflected the liberal educational
philosophy of President M. Carey Thomas and the Bryn Mawr College trustees, a philosophy that placed major emphasis on the development of the intellectual powers of the mind rather than on pragmatic approaches to immediate problems. By implementing a program the purpose of which was not merely to instruct workers in identifying the sources of and solutions to their own job-related problems but also to introduce them to “new fields of thought and interest” (Smith, 1929), the Summer School made a unique contribution to the field of workers’ education. That the program was at least partially successful in reaching the goal of “liberating”–in the traditional educational sense—the working women who attended the School, is reflected in the words of one student, a garment worker: “It was light when my feet touched the soil of the campus. It was light again when girls of different parts of America and from various industries addressed each other in an old-friendly way. It was light when the dark heavenly bodies were pointed out and introduced. It was light when the strange sounds of foreign language became familiar and sweet. It was light when the teacher and pupils analyzed the control of wages and the means of production. “It will be light, strong, and warm, light for humanity.” (quoted in Smith, 1978, p. 156).

Highlander Folk School
Many adult education activities have evolved out of community initiatives; Highlander Folk School is a good example of this type of program. Established in 1932 by Miles Horton, Highlander’s purpose was to help people find their own answers to the problems which faced them and to gain greater control over their lives: in other words, to empower the common people. Early programs, which included courses in psychology, cultural geography, revolutionary literature, and current economic problems, as well as seminars on how to promote social change, were focused on labor reform; throughout the 1930’s Highlander’s staff and students worked to create equality of opportunity within the labor movement. By
the 1950’s, general acceptance of the right of labor to organize and improving economic conditions influenced a shift in the emphasis of Highlander’s efforts; “[c]onquering meanness, prejudice, and tradition” as a prerequisite to an orderly transition to an integrated South became the new focus of the Folk School’s programs (Adams, 1980, p. 225).

Stubblefield and Keane (1989) suggest that the most important contribution made by Highlander was the development of citizenship schools to teach Blacks literacy and an understanding of the white power structure and their rights in a democracy. In the tradition of helping oppressed people help themselves, operation of the schools was turned over to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1961.

An Alternative Image Of The Field
Awareness of the “neglected” histories of adult education results in a picture of the field quite different from that projected by traditional histories; the resulting image is not one of practitioners striving for professional maturity and sophistication but rather one of ordinary people striving together for individual and societal improvement. By looking “beyond institutions to the popular social movement, grass roots education, voluntary associations, and communities producing and disseminating knowledge as a human
activity” (Cunningham, 1989, p. 34), adult education can be perceived as a field more concerned with the ends than the means.

In 1964 Webster Cotton wrote about periods in the development of the field of adult education in which considerable “intellectual ferment” was aroused among educators by contemplation of questions “as to where adult education should be going, why and how best to get there” (p. 80). Twenty-five years later, adult educators are still asking these questions; however, adequate answers depend on the answer to another question: where have we been? Questions regarding goals, ethics, philosophies, and policies need to be answered by individuals and by groups in the field, but the answers must be informed not only by
current theory and practice but also by a knowledge of the history of the field. Any attempt at planning–“a systematic attempt to shape the future”–must involve knowledge of and a shaping of the trends and events which emanate from the past (Rothwell, 1951, cited in Johnson, 1973). Writing a history involves selecting and arranging evidence to interpret and explain the past. The process of selection is essentially a subjective one, although our sincere goal may be “scholarly objectivity”; who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go influences us, consciously or unconsciously, in any such evaluative process. Two factors make standard histories of adult education inadequate for the purpose of informing present policy construction, decision making, and action. First, their authors, in the process of selecting and arranging events, have omitted or undervalued populations whose activities and achievements should have earned them recognition equal to that afforded the field’s heroes. To revere Franklin’s twelve-member Junto while ignoring Black literary societies, which were more extensive in both size and goals, for example, leaves standard historians open to a charge of ethnocentric bias which should have no place in a field which prides itself on reflecting a universal human activity. Second, standard histories have consistently ignored the ethical questions involved in the “forced” adult education of groups such as Native Americans and immigrants. Respect for and pride in the past should not preclude recognition and discussion of such questions. To ignore the successes of minority or counter-hegemonic groups and to overlook the failures of the prevailing hegemony robs the field of information and perspectives necessary to make informed decisions in the present. The standard histories and the neglected histories project different images of adult education; both are necessary for a complete understanding of the field. Once we have a clearer understanding of where we all have been, we will be better prepared to address the questions of where we should be going and how best to get there.

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