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Canadian and US adult learning (1945-1970) and the cultural politics and place of lifelong learning

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This essay examines adult learning in Canada and the USA (1945-1970). It explores this emergence in relation to moves to establish academic adult education as a cultural force that could help citizen learners to negotiate a way forward amid the collision of instrumental, social, and cultural change forces altering life, learning, and work in the emerging postindustrial society. In this regard, it focuses centrally on lifelong learning as an idea designed to have broad appeal in rapid-change postindustrial culture. In particular, it attempts to explicate a cultural politics of lifelong learning, which academic adult educators hoped would give the field a higher profile within what they perceived to be an emerging change culture of crisis and challenge. Two key factors are considered in these deliberations. First, this essay explores the relationship between public education (understood as schooling for children) and adult education. It takes up how this problematic relationship interfered with a post-war turn to lifelong learning. Second, it examines the shift in the meaning of the social in understanding adult education as social education in postindustrialsociety. It argues that the post-war discourse of democracy delimited this meaning, locating the social predominantly within a concern with preserving the dominant culture and society.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2000

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