Adults continue to learn and revise their representation of knowledge scheme with a rational reflection on previous experience and interlink to action in the social setting. There is little knowledge about this cognitive process in China as collectivist conformity to a totalitarian state has been the mainstream culture. This chapter presents a case of cognitive development of a group of university graduates who started their first career in NGOs. The stretching-on four stages of cognitive development are represented as: a) Getting away from the authority reference; b) Landing on opened-up horizons of reflection; c) Building up interlinks across knowledge scheme and action; and d) Linking cycles of experience with appropriation.
Adult education theories have full accounts in understanding the role of action of the learners who continuously grow and reinterpret their exiting experiences for improving their sequential experience. Knowles (1970) in his major publication The Modern Practice of Adult Education: Andragogy versus Pedagogy postulates that as adults grow, they will move from dependency toward increasing self-directedness and they start to accumulate a reservoir of experience, and adults attach meaning to their experiences (Knowles, 1980:44). Their experience has therefore formed “the adult learners: a living textbook” (Lindeman (1961, pp. 6-7). Taylor also points out (2000, pp. 288) that “only in adulthood are meaning structures clearly formed and developed and the revision of established meaning perspective takes place.” The learning of adult, as the formal teaching agents who connect pupils with materials are withdrawn, is a fundamental process of the human beings that we need to understand to help ourselves see how we figures our paths ahead. Several perspective views provide rapports to this proposition.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Community Development Practitioners: Those who help facilitate community development projects.
Cognitive Development: Knowledge acquiring process.
Appropriation: Active process of constructing knowledge from social and cultural sources, mediated by individual interpretation.
Experience: Knowing, evens, any occurrence and feelings that all one has gone through.
Viability: A part of experience or knowledge that can be interpreted as “making sense” and that serves to carry certain meaning and a link between the existing internal knowledge scheme of previous learning and their ongoing interaction.
Transformative Learning: A process in which the taken-for-granted frames of reference have been reconstructed, modified, or evolved with newly acquired meaning from one’s experience.
Discourse: Ongoing interaction and participation in social practices for opened consultation and confrontation.
Constructing Knowledge: A recognition that learners play an active role in their cognitive development.