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Adult Learning and Education in International Contexts: Future Challenges for its Professionalization

Comparative Perspectives from the 2016 Würzburg Winter School


Regina Egetenmeyer, Sabine Schmidt-Lauff and Vanna Boffo

This volume analyses adult education and lifelong learning as international phenomena, which have a strong influence on professionals working in this field. Based on the 2016 Würzburg Winter School, the book identifies influences on policy at local, national and international levels. It examines the internationalization of adult education and emphasizes the emergence of different dimensions of professionalism in adult education.

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Preface (Bernd Käpplinger, series editor)


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Bernd Käpplinger, series editor


The professionalization of adult educators is an ongoing project. Managing, planning, counselling and teaching are among the core tasks of adult educators, but there are some who take the view that professionalization is not really needed, or that the practitioners’ intuition or experience are enough. In the Canadian discussion, for example, Selman and Selman disputed with Nesbit and Hall as to whether Canadian adult education is still progressing at all – that is, whether it can still be seen as a movement. In this Canadian controversy, some opponents discuss professionalization and scientific education rather as an obstacle than a support for learners. Teachers or trainers should be produced by movements, not academic training. The German discourse on this topic, as exemplified in Nittel’s book published in 2000, maintains that adult education has, in many respects, changed from wanting to be a mission to wanting to create a profession. If professionalization is defined as a process, this term implies that there is still a long way to go and includes backlashes such as precarious working conditions. Voluntary engagement can also mean exploitation, especially when it is systematically used in lieu of good payment for good work. There are certainly similar discussions and struggles going on in other countries.

There are many advantages to having professionally trained staff. Professional staff are able to plan courses and events in such a way that many mistakes are at least...

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