The Meaning of Adult Education by Eduard Christian Lindeman

The Meaning of Adult Education

Book Title: The Meaning of Adult Education

Publisher: Windham Press

ISBN: 162845038X

Author: Eduard Christian Lindeman

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The Meaning of Adult Education
By Eduard Christian Lindeman

"Each of us," wrote Anatole France, "must even be allowed to possess two or three philosophies at the same time," for the purpose, I presume, of saving our thought from the deadly formality of consistency. No one can write about education, particularly adult education, without deserting at various points all "schools “of pedagogy, psychology and philosophy. In-congruities are obvious: one cannot, for ex-ample, be a determinist and at the same time advocate education; nor can idealism be made to fit the actualities of life without recognition of the material limitations which surround living organisms. One cannot, that is, make use of these opposed points of view if they are conceived to be mutually-exclusive. But it is precisely because I do not so regard them that all are included in this essay. Light comes from learning — just as creation comes everywhere -through integrations, syntheses, not through exclusions.

The essay which follows will be best under-stood in the light of personal experience. My formal education began at the age of twenty-one — after I had spent twelve years in various occupations and industries. I could, of course, speak the English language (at least, the Americanized version which workers used) but it was not my natural medium of communication. My initiation to formal education was, next to the unsuccessful attempt to adjust myself to automatic machines, the most perplexing and baffling experience of my existence. The desire somehow to free education from stifling ritual, formalism and institutionalism was probably born in those frantic hours spent over books which mystified and confused my mind. I had already earned my way in the world from the age of nine, had learned the ship-building trade, had participated in strikes, and somehow none of the learning I was asked to do seemed to bear even the remotest relation to my experience. Out of this confusion worse confounded (confounded confusion, someone has called it) grew the hope that someday education might be brought out of college halls and into the lives of the people who do the work of the world. Later I came to see that these very people who perform productive tasks were themselves creating the experience out of which education might emerge. In 1920 I visited Denmark, not primarily to study education but to pick up lost ancestral threads — a quest which arose from my dislocated youth. Here I came into contact with a civilization which, by sheer contrast with hate- ridden Europe, seemed like a cultural oasis in the desert of nationalism. Whereas the victorious nations were grasping for territory, Danish statesmen were conducting a scientific study to determine how much of...


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