The Adult Education Movement

     The evolution of adult education has changed drastically through the
years.  Gone by are the days where a man is considered lucky to receive an
educaton up through the 8th grade.  In years past, the majority of adult
education was confined to apprentice programs where a young man was taught
a trade from his father in an attempt to take over the family business -
farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, etc.

     Today, an estimated 21 million (about 1/8th of the adult population),
men and women are taking some form of adult education.  This educational
array ranges from traditional courses, correspondence courses, (i.e. Sally
Struthers), discussion groups, seminars, and reading programs, just to
name a few. 

     The motives for the educational movement of adults is varied.  Some
return to school to complete education that was not accomplished when they
were younger. Others, in hopes for a better job, and others yet in hopes
to remain competitive enough to keep their own jobs.  Adults today feel
threatened in their jobs by younger, highly educated individuals entering
the workforce in competition for fewer and fewer jobs. 

     The sources for adult education are varied.  There is the traditional
college or university, public schools, proprietary schools and the federal
government. Eventually, ( and some programs are currently underway), the
Internet, via your home computer, will allow you to earn a degree (i.e.,
an MBA program currently in the works at Indiana Wesleyan U.) or
certificate without leaving the confines of your abode. 

     The progression of adult education in America is an interesting one. 
During the colonial period, apprentices were the primary form of adult
education.  In 1727 Ben Franklin founded one of the first adult education
programs, and organizations in American History.  This new organization
was called the Junto.  In the Junto, the course of study consisted of
topics like politics, philosophy and a host of others that were felt to be
of importance of the day.  In 1731 Ben Franklin founded the first Public
Library.  At this new Library, the concept of borrowing books was
introduced. Adults were admitted based on a system of fees and fines.  The
fees and fines allowed the Library to operate.

     During the 1800's, another adult educational program was formed;  the
founder was a gentleman by the name of Josiah Holbrook.  Mr. Holbrook's
adult education program was one were men met and held debates, lectures
and discussions.  This form of education was called the Lyceum.  The
Lyceum grew in popularity to over three thousand Lyceums around the
country until it dissolved in the late 1830's. 

     The 1900's saw a great boom in adult education.  The Federal
Government got involved in the educational process where starting in 1914
act(s) named the Smith (et al.) acts provided funding for training in the
area(s) of farming, home economics and vocations. 

     The depression of the 1930's saw the formation of the WPA.  This was
were the government trained adults in an attempt to re-employ them.  After
WWII, the government formed the Veterans Administration where veterans
were paid to go to school.  This caused a tremendous growth spurt for
American colleges and universities. 

     The manpower act of the 1960's provided funds for the unemployed in
an attempt to train unemployed adults and make them marketable.  This also
opened the door for adult basic education programs, widely in use today. 

     Today, education in America is available to just about anyone.  With
the availability of grants, scholarships, and loans, just about any adult
can attain a higher education.  As mentioned earlier, with the Internet,
not only adult men and women can receive an unlimited wealth of
information in the comfort of their own desk chairs, but children as well
have a tremendous educational tool right at their fingertips. Hopefully,
opening the door to a much better educated generation of tomorrow's

Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia,  1997 ed.
Encyclopedia Americana, 1995 ed.
New Perspectives on Life:  Houle, Cyril  (1984)
The Triangle:  University Pub., Indiana Wesleyan U., 1996
World Book Encyclopedia:  1995 ed.

Prepared by Phillip A. Scott