Adult Learning Theory Essay

1693 words - 7 pages

ADULT LEARNING THEORY 2 Adult Learning Theory Malcolm Knowles Malcolm Knowles (1913-1997) was a key figure in America’s adult education in the second half of the twentieth century (Smith, 2002). Early Life “Born in 1913 and initially raised in Montana,” Knowles seems to have had “a reasonably happy childhood. His father was a veterinarian and from around the age of four Knowles often accompanied him on his visits to farms and ranches” (Smith, 2002, para. 2). His mother also played a critical role in his character building. During his campaign for the scouting prize, he developed a technique that would help him compete successfully (Smith, 2002), which he always thanked his mother for. In 1930, He entered Harvard University with scholarship, where he spent four dynamic years. Although job opportunities were extremely scarce, he still managed to find a job in Phillips Brooks House at Harvard (National Louis University [NLU], 2005), “a university organization dedicated to social work” (NLU, 2005, para. 7); he also volunteered to participate in many activities with immigrants at Boston's Lincoln House Settlement (NLU, 2005). In addition, he accumulated experiences in communicating with youth groups and counseling for immigrant Italian families. He was even elected President in Harvard's Liberal Club (NLU, 2005). He was soon found to be caught up in the Depression; however, he was not defeated by either the delivery job for the New York Times in the Cambridge area, or the errands he ran as a water boy for the Harvard football team (Smith, 2002). With the desire to work in the field of education, Knowles managed to get a job in new National Youth Administration in Massachusetts, where he was involved in “finding out what skills local employers were looking for, establishing courses to teach those skills, and recruiting young people to take the courses” (Smith, 2002, para. 5). It was during his work here that he met one of the most

ADULT LEARNING THEORY 3 significant mentors in his life—Eduard Lindeman. By reading Lindeman’s Meaning of Adult Education, he obtained a profound understanding of adult education, which later became his source of inspiration and concepts. Major Works In 1943, Knowles was recruited into the Navy, and began to read extensively in the field of adult education, which contributed to his final decision to undertake a master’s program at the University of Chicago (Smith, 2002). His adviser at the University of Chicago was Cyril O. Houle, who had been a role model in rigorous learning for Knowles. Carl Rogers, “the founder of 'client-centered' or 'non-directive' therapy” (Smith, 2004, para. 1), and Arthur Shedlin, an associate of Rogers, had also exerted a great influence on Knowles—he began to consider learning as an exciting incident. In 1949, Knowles gained his Master’s degree and published his first book Informal Adult Education, which was also his master thesis (Smith, 2002). In 1951, he became “executive director of the...

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