Book by Meriiam, Sharan B., Courtenay, Bradley, C., & Cervero, Ronald, M.
Review by Heather T. Zeng
Career Counselor
Miami, Florida

Global Issues and Adult Education: Perspectives from Latin American, Southern Africa, and the United States is a collection of writings by thirty-eight Houle Scholars. Houle Scholars, sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, participated in a Global Issues: The Roles and Responsibilities of Adult Education Seminar in Salzburg Austria.  The Houle Scholars’ research revealed the following topics as most vital to the adult education discourse: globalization and the market economy, marginalized populations, global issues of the environment and health, community empowerment through adult education and relationships between lifelong learning and educational systems. This compendium of work is a thoughtful assessment of the far reaching implications to adult education and theory.

One of the most provocative chapters examines the role of adult education within a global community driven by the free market system. Chapter author Daniel V. Folkman’s synthesis of research and practice culminates in a visual depiction of a Critical Frame- Reflection Inquiry figure (p. 84) that depicts the forces at work in globalization. These forces include values, community and problem solving approaches whereby adult learners combine growing and learning to initiate action. Advisors reading this chapter will understand the role of the human triangular process of thinking, feeling and behaving. This section affirms the cognitive behavioral process where solutions can arise, for example, from individuals or communities who think differently about a solution and take steps for positive change.

A brief but striking chapter by Doria Daniels discusses visual methods as an educational medium for research endeavors where there are language limitations on the part of the researcher. Daniels suggests that when conducting  an ethnography, instead of using typical qualitative methodology, the researcher might consider providing photographs of the community for participant reaction. This evokes Susan Sontag’s comments: “Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire” (Sontag, 2001). This visual method can play an egalitarian role in learning and adult pedagogy that perpetuates a dialogue while validating the stories of individual’s lives and communities (and often transforming pain or strife into valuable perspective for others). This certainly can entice the adult education instructor, advisor, or counselor into using visual methodology not only in research but perhaps when dealing with students for whom English is a second language or with other newly enfranchised individuals in an educational institution or classroom.

The text is multilayered in its approach to issues as diverse as supporting education and training in communities with HIV/Aids, to adult literacy, gaining volunteer support for adult education, and how adult education can contribute to solving environmental problems.  This eclectic gathering of ponderings, research, and approaches offers an extensive menu of selections that will challenge educators’ paradigms.

This Meriiam, Courtenay & Cervero text is appropriate reading for the adult education teacher, counselor, or advisor who serves populations who have experienced some of the challenges of incomplete or marginally functioning adult programs. Here editors offer a battle cry for critical self-reflection amongst educators while partnering to resolve some of the problematic issues of marginalization through dialogue and effective policy implementation in adult education.

Sontag, S (2001) On Photography Excerpt.   Retrieved July 20, 2006 from  http://www.susansontag.com/onphotographyexcrpt.htm

Global Issues and Adult Education: Perspectives from Latin American, Southern Africa, and the United States. (2006). Book by Meriiam, Sharan B., Courtenay, Bradley, C., & Cervero, Ronald, M. (Eds). Review by Heather T. Zeng San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 560pp. $48.00 (hardback). ISBN # 0-7879-7810-8
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