Adult education as the term refers to, involves educating and teaching adults; grown-up men and women that are above the age of eighteen. This can take place in workplaces through the system of extension schools, community colleges, universities and folk high schools. In the current times spirituality and religion are used interchangeably. Spirituality often requires a continuous strike of balance between one’s inner and outer self.
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This is what is known as public spirituality as it has to be worked out on people’s lives. This can be termed as the spirituality of living and having that usually takes in all beliefs and practices. The focus of public spirituality is on existing relationships as well as on developing the meaning of life among adults (Lauzon, 2010). Currently, research shows that most adults take part in some form of learning in their day to day lives which including learning issues on spirituality.
Many of them enroll in universities and colleges so that they can further their education (Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon, 2010). One of the factors that inspired adult education was spirituality. Currently, spirituality and spiritual inspired education has increasingly become marginalized. This is because the state and church have been separated as a result of an increased focus on professionalism leading to the secularization of adult education. Adult learning was intended to bring change in an individual’s life through the enhancement of spirituality (Lauzon, 2010).
As much as many adults enroll in the adult learning programs, most of them end up dropping out. They find it difficult and challenging to strike a balance between their family, job and education. They also find it hard to manage their finances when it comes to supporting their education and families at the same time. Dropping out prevents them from attaining the main purpose of spirituality in adult education, which is spiritual growth. There are various challenges within the adult education system when it comes to enhancing spirituality on the life of students. This paper will look at a challenge within the field of adult education and also propose a solution to this challenge.
Current challenge in adult education that needs consideration
It is just until recently that a trend towards a decrease in focus of spirituality in adult education emerged. A major challenge in adult education is lack of professional development opportunities for the facilitators of adult education, and especially when it comes to the skills required in the incorporation of spirituality in the learning process. This is evident from the fact that most of the trainers are taken directly from other professions, and lack sufficient training to be able to mentor adult students spiritually, and to give them the required guidance.
In today’s adult education systems, facilitators mainly give the required professional knowledge, and fail to focus on the spirituality of the students. What they have learned in their field of profession is perceived to be insufficient for the student’s development of public spirituality (Mayson, 2004). Spiritual based adult education calls for trainers who will able to guide the students in the course of their spiritual journey.
The positions that are available for facilitators are mostly part time, with absolutely no benefits or even stability (Harrington, 1997). This is because they are funded by grants from the government and; hence, likely to last for just a few years. This means that there is no consistency within adult education when it comes to facilitators.
Relevant statistical trend
There is a variation in the preparation time when it comes to elementary and secondary school teachers. Elementary teachers receive up to 7% time, while secondary teachers get up to 12.5%. However, when it comes to adult facilitators, the situation is different. Almost 90% of the adult facilitators do not get any form of training and development that will assist them when it comes to dealing with their students (Appelt, 2004).
The quality of adult education depends mostly on the instructions given when it comes to the improvement of outcome in adult learning. The Office of Vocational Research and Adult Education (OVAE) has put a lot of effort and funding towards adult education research.This aims at ensuring that learners are able to undertake research, understand the research process as well as be able to utilize the findings obtained.
Relevant changes in policies
Several policies have been put in place to facilitate the professional development of adult facilitators. In 1991, for instance, there were amendments made on the National Literacy Act, later named Adult Education Act, section 353 that indicated that states should set aside 15% of basic grant funds to be used in the training of facilitators, and in demonstration projects. In the fiscal year of 1994, 11 million dollars was distributed by states for use in adult education programs. A lot of state literacy resources are also being utilized for the professional development of adult education trainers (Burt & Keenan, 1998).
The aim of adult education, with regard to spirituality, is to give an education that provides an opportunity for choice and autonomy. For this to be achieved, efforts should be made towards the professional development of trainers to enable them give proper guidance to adult learners on issues pertaining to spirituality. First, there should be an increase in funding towards professional development of these trainers.
This problem cannot be solved by just the government; hence, nongovernmental organizations and churches should support adult education through the provision of funds that will be used for the training and developing these trainers. The training should ensure that the facilitators strive to create spaces that are safe, respectful as well as attentive to the needs of learners, and the entire environment (Lauzon, 2010).
It is important for trainers to also have a professional development toolkit. This mainly helps in promoting a successful and effective process of goal selection, needs identification as well as goal implementation.
Impending consequences for learners, facilitators, providers, or society
If the identified challenge is not addressed, then learners will not be successful in their spiritual journey as their trainers are not competent enough to take them through. Facilitators ought to embrace the learner-teacher and teacher-learner approaches. This means that everyone is a learner; hence, if this challenge is not overcome, then the facilitators will also have no chance of developing themselves spiritually. The society needs adults who are responsible and that can relate to others positively. This can be achieved only through adult education that is spiritually motivated. If this issue is not dealt with, then the society will continue to be burdened with an increased number of illiterate adults with no public spirituality (Lauzon, 2010).
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Since spiritually inspired adult education is quite an emergent education and clearly indicates that there are more fundamental changes which are taking place globally. The main interest when it comes to spirituality and commitment towards spiritual practice is human evolution. It is very important to ensure that facilitators of adult education are properly prepared in order to ensure success in adult education, and to provide an education that is spiritually motivated.
Appelt, K. (2004). Research-Based Professional Development for Adult Educators. Literacy links, 8:3. Web.
Burt, M. & Keenan, F. (1998). Trends in Staff Development for Adult ESL Instructors. Web.
Lauzon, A. (2010). Spirituality and Adult Education: An emergent perspective. Web.
Jaffee, A. (2001). Adult education. Princeton, N.J.: Ontario Review Press.
Kasworm, C., Rose, A. & Ross-Gordon, J. (2010). Adult and Continuing Education. LA: SAGE publications Inc.
Mayson, J. (2004). Adult education. Chapel Hill, N.C. : American Association for Adult and Continuing Education.