The article "Adult Education" by Adler is very interesting to me, the way he is able to comment on two opposite sides of an argument and contrast them in a very educated fashion is just phenomenal. He mentions that the general public has a misconception in how to view and interpret the meaning of "Adult School"; which is not easy to see unless you read this article in depth. In my opinion he has very valid points, which I agree on. People gain the most knowledge and skills out of maturity; life experiences can be the best educator in most cases. Therefore, young people should not be considered educated. Adler mentions, “Use schooling to signify the development and training of the young, and education to signify the learning done by mature men and women” (Adler, 59). This essay will try to explore that theory, with the hopes of expanding our knowledge and provide personal feedback on this subject.
Education is a preparation for the human mind; it consists in the growth of understanding, insight and some wisdom. Therefore, people graduating from school (college, university, etc.) when they are in their early twenty's should not be considered educated adults, but hardly intelligent young adults (Adler, 59). In other words, young people might think they are educated by the fact they obtained a diploma, degree or certification. But in reality, they are merely educated since they have no life experience (Adler, 59). In my opinion, he is right, and reminds me of a very similar view from Lindeman’s comment in the subject, "Education is life--not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living. The whole of life is learning; therefore, education can have no ending. This new venture is called adult education--not because it is confined to adults but because adulthood, maturity defines its limits" (Lindeman, 6). This helps us see further than a general definition of the term. Work and life experiences form the way we interact with one another and how we make decisions in life, everything on books (school system) are just guidelines to give us direction, sometimes even instructions on "how to", but it's not until they are put to good practice when we become actual knowledgeable, mature, educated individuals.
In today’s corporate world, employers ask for a certain level of formal education, and an extensive work experience before they hire a position with high level of responsibilities to someone. I personally would not give that job to a young man or woman; it can put the company at a high risk of failure due to the lack of knowledge in the field, ethics, morals, or life in general. Usually young people are trained to do a certain job in a company, and only with time, experience and maturity (even without an education) they are able to move up the corporate ladder once their potential is fully developed. Adler mentions in his article, “In the opening chapters of Aristotle's Ethics, he points out that you can train the characters of young men, you can form the moral virtues in them by reward and punishment; but, he says, you cannot teach them ethical principles because they are immature” (Adler, 62). I have asked some mature people to give me their opinion on this, and their response was “I agree with him” (Anonymous). When I asked a younger crowd, the majority of the responses did not agree with Adler’s view. Some of them even reacted in a very arrogant way mentioning, “I probably know more than a lot of older people out there” (Anonymous). We can see the emotion and immaturity behind these words; in my eyes is reaffirming Adler’s view on young “educated” people. It is also known that not everyone needs to go to school to make a living, Adler mentions:
“Perhaps we need schools to train men for the learned professions, but not for the ordinary jobs of an industrial society. The basic tasks of an industrial society can be learned on the job. We need to go to school, not in order to learn how to earn a living, but in order to learn how to use the life for which we are going to earn a living-to learn how to occupy ourselves humanly, to live our leisure hours well and not play them all away” (Adler, 63).
The ultimate goal toward which every part of schooling or education is directed it is wisdom. Throughout my life I have searched to be a little wiser than what I was before, I have never stopped looking for a better understanding of the conditions of our lives, human behavior, and the world we live in; trying to expand my mind. Adler mentions that people should always look for wisdom. But how long does it take to become wise? “The answer is: A lifetime. Hence if wisdom is the ultimate goal of the whole process of learning, then that process must go on for a lifetime” (Adler, 66). We absorb everything in our surroundings, the brain never stops working. In my opinion, there are way too many variables in life or the universe. We can try to understand certain things and for a brief moment think we know something, but like Plato said, “That what you think it is, that is what is not”. Science has proven this theory plenty of times in history, there is always a paradigm shift occurring. A few hundred years ago, we thought we were the center of the Universe, just to later discover that we are just a planet in the Solar system. As humans, we are constantly improving ourselves. Before reading Adler’s article, I had some ideas regarding these issues, but never knew that someone had written and analyze them already. As I was reading his arguments, the more I related and agreed with all his points of view. I feel that in this stage of my life, I can analyze my younger days and verify his theory. I have not completely matured, but now I have a better direction on how to get there.
Adler, Mortimer J. “Adult Education”. The Task of a Lifetime. 1952: pp. 59-67+115
Lindeman, E. The Meaning of Adult Education. New York: New Republic, 6. 1926.
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