Open Access Capstone
This paper is part reflection on the curriculum building experience and part analysis of the experience with regards to the academic literature on adult education. Reflection on the experience and discussion of some theories in AE are followed by a collection of suggested resources for the curriculum, many of which speak to the issues I highlight in the paper. Adding a gender perspective to the curriculum will not only touch on issues that are commonly overlooked, but it will provide a more complete picture of issues discussed. Because the curriculum will undergo a process of constant evolution, I do not consider this project a comprehensive, finished product. I consider my contribution as just one part of many in an ongoing process. I hope that my suggestions for additions to the curriculum will be a starting point for further exploration to engage the learners and instructors at TLP, and to foster the ongoing curriculum building process.
After a brief overview of TLP and underlying ideas behind my research in section on, section two explains the curriculum's stated purposes and provides an overview of the units and their content--materials, resources, and lesson plans. I discuss the process by which the team made decisions that shaped its practical implications, and the possible assumptions about AE and about TLP learners that affected the curriculum building process. This leads to a discussion on the instructors' request for dialogue facilitation training, and the resulting training workshop. Section two introduces the curriculum builders' varying perceptions on what the instructor's role should be in a participatory adult education setting. Finally, I discuss a few observations from the beginning of the implementation stage that further illustrate theoretical and practical issues of interest.
In section three, I expand on some of the ways that common assumptions in traditional education, as well as adult education theory, have informed the instructors' perceptions of their role. I introduce historical methods and theories of adult education that shape TLP's philosophy and practice, specifically those that led TLP to engage in the BBB coalition. I deconstruct some ways that the field of adult education has evolved into a different kind of pedagogy than traditional education, and how this is apparent in the TLP classrooms. Instructors' perceptions of the purpose and ideals of adult education, as well as their roles as curriculum makers and dialogue facilitators in a participatory learning environment shape what they feel is acceptable practice in the AE classroom. This leads to section four an overview of critical pedagogy/critical literacy, and how it can be applied to this situation for implementing the BBB/TLP.
The fifth section looks at gender issues implicated in the AE/TLP environment, and as one of several perspectives that is not yet represented in the curriculum. My approach for discussing gender issues is that it is a two-sided coin--gender is not just a code word for "women." Gender issues affect both men and women, so introduction theses issues in the classroom can have an affect outside of the classroom for both men and women. I discuss the possibility of using feminist pedagogy as another means of enhancing the BBB/TLP curriculum. Through discussing the curriculum with learners and considering at the population of women learners in Western Massachusetts, I found some aspects of their learning experience that make their interests, problems, and roles unique. I attempt to respond to those interests, problems and roles by connecting the existing curriculum to gender themes that are or could be included in the curriculum.