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Changing Configurations in Adult Education in Transitional Times

International Perspectives in Different Countries

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Edited By Bernd Käpplinger and Steffi Robak

Change and transition are prominent buzzwords in the discourse upon adult education. International conferences like the European ESREA triennial research conference 2013 in Berlin focused on these terms. But is to deal with change and transitions really something new for adult education? What is new? What has changed? Which kind of transitions do we experience and how can we systematically observe and analyse them as researchers nowadays? This anthology wants to stimulate an exchange beyond buzzwords and European perspectives and investigate what these terms could mean for research in terms of institutionalisation and professionalization in adult education in different national contexts. Therefore, distinguished scholars were invited to contribute to this anthology.
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Adult Educators and ‘Really Useful Knowledge’: Navigating Democratic Politics in Mobile and Transitional Times

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Niranjan Casinader, Graham Parr, Cynthia Joseph & Terri Seddon

Abstract

Adult education is deeply rooted in national territories, but these spaces for the education of adults are now increasingly disturbed by global transitions. Increased mobility has significant effects on adult education and adult educators, many of whom are themselves on the move. So what are the implications of this increased mobility of adults for adult educators? We use the concept of ‘really useful knowledge’ to understand how mobility is affecting adult educators. We report on an analysis of three reflexive autobiographical commentaries written by Australian adult educators who consider the effects and implications of mobility, learning and identity work on their own learning and their work with adults. Analysing these commentaries, we show how they are positioned by merely useful knowledge expectations and how they also actively pursue really useful knowledge for themselves and their adult learners. These cases each highlight the interplay between knowledge and identity and how this kind of identity work is ordered by, within, and between relational knowledge spaces. Tracking these adults’ movement through different knowledge spaces reveals the kinds of knowledge and skills that enable adult learners to navigate the uncertainties in working lives framed by global transitions. We argue that ‘Really Useful Knowledge’ provides a way of naming adult learning that is oriented towards democratic politics rather than capitalist utility. In global transitions, this kind of knowledge and learning goes beyond understandings of political relations within national territories....

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