Critical and Transformational Perspectives on Career and Technical Education in the Twenty-First Century for Urban Adult Learners

Critical and Transformational Perspectives on Career and Technical Education in the Twenty-First Century for Urban Adult Learners

Anthony C. Adkisson, Catherine H. Monaghan
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6086-9.ch005
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Critical theory points out that cultural norms do not reflect the experiences of a large portion of adult learners, particularly urban adult learners. As adult educators in this context, are there ways we might improve or change our instruction by developing a critical understanding of the transitional and transformational events in the lives of adult learners entering into career and technical education program? What is the role of alternative approaches to transformative learning for these learners? Specifically, what is the role of alternative approaches to learning for urban adult learners transitioning into a career and technical education classroom, after years of disengagement with formal learning institutions and the need to update their technology skills? In this chapter, the authors discuss the need to use alternative conceptions of transformative learning and critical theory to understand this population of learners as they make the decisions to participate in more formal education programs. They also explore the key issues for adult education practitioner including implications for practice.
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As adult education practitioners, we both work for different educational institutions located in a small urban city in the Midwest. Each of our institutions provide educational programing and courses to urban adult learners with varying experiences within the educational system as well as from varying backgrounds, which are culturally and economically diverse. Urban settings provide a number of formal and non-formal educational programs where adults may participate. Some examples of programs are community based job readiness programs; sector based career and technical education programs, and traditional post-secondary educational courses. The urban setting as the backdrop for both of our programs positions learners in unique ways not fully explored within empirical literature on critical theory, transformational learning, and career and technical education. Residing in an urban setting has the potential to inform a learners experience in both positive and negative ways (Martin, 2004). According to Kappel and Daley (2004), “the urban context often acts as a multilayered web of disorienting and intersecting dilemmas” (p. 88). These disorienting dilemmas often present themselves as challenges to urban adult learners providing them with both inspiration and obstruction in their learning process. Merriam (2005) points out that such life events or transitions create moments for learning and development in the lives of an adult learner, and these transitions for adult learners are times when an individual goes back and forth between moments of stability and change.

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