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The road less walked: a retrospective of race and ethnicity in adult education

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This article is a 20-year retrospective on race and ethnicity in Adult Education. A brief historical synopsis of how Adult Education has examined race and ethnicity foregrounds a contemporary segment that reviews the existing situations of people of colour in Adult Education. It is imperative to first discuss Adult Education's past as regards race and ethnicity in order to properly situate the contemporary discussion. This status report focuses primarily on Blacks since other groups, such as Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans, have been essentially absent from the literature. Research during the formative years of Adult Education in the 1930s and 1940s generally consisted of a neutral surface examination, while the current research of the 1980s and 1990s has a distinct social justice component sustained by a critical lens. The literature is virtually quiet on issues relating to race and ethnicity between the years of 1950 and 1980. Seven data sources were used in this appraisal. The following journals were surveyed, with particular attention placed on the last 20 years: Adult Education Quarterly, International Journal of Lifelong Education, Adult Literacy and Basic Education, and New Directions in Adult and Continuing Education. This critical analysis also included documents from the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), journal abstracts from the Current Index to Journals in Education, dissertations published in adult and continuing education, and the conference proceedings of the Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA) and the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC). There has been a significant increase in research on minorities in Adult Education. For the most part, this research seems driven by the context of the present socio-political climate, and it is asserted that the movement towards examining race and ethnicity has been partially inspired by the increase of racial and ethnic group members as Adult Education professors, practitioners, and students in our classrooms and programmes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02601370010008237

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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