At its most basic, adult education is defined as education for adults who have poor or no skills in basic reading, writing and math skills. The lack of basic education impairs the ability of these adults to effectively function in the workplace, in the family and in society.
Adult education training focuses on teaching educators how to effectively train adults lacking in basic literacy skills. Teaching adults offers many challenges, not the least of which is that, if the adult is not sufficiently motivated, and if the courses are not geared to suit the adult student’s specific needs and goals, the adult will simply stop coming to class.
Adult education training teaches educators to identify the student’s needs and to incorporate the student’s prior experiences into the training curriculum. Adult students need a practical approach to learning, meaning that they need to be engaged interactively with problem centered course activities. The student’s goals must be incorporated into the learning process along with demonstrations of the practical applicability of the lessons.
Adult students need to be involved in the lessons through group discussions and activities, with opportunities for self-appraisal as well as appraisal and evaluation of the instructor.
Adult education training stresses that adult students must be motivated to continue their education for practical, as well as purely academic, reasons. Practical reasons for an adult’s motivation to continue education include elevation of the student’s social and economic status.
With the continued need for adult education and the stress many government entities are placing on adult education, there are surprisingly few courses offered in adult education training. Add that, to learn effectively, adults need specific teaching skills that are different than those applied to teaching children to the increased need for adult education teachers and the lack of adult education training courses becomes more than just surprising, it becomes alarming.
There are nearly 30 million functionally illiterate adults in the United States. In 2004 the US Census Bureau reported that there were 6.2 million teachers in the United States. In 2003 there were 75 million people enrolled in schools in the United States with nearly 17 million students enrolled in college. There are no statistics available for adult students enrolled in basic education courses. However, these figures demonstrate a drastic need for additional adult education training courses and for additional educators.
Well trained adult educators are, naturally, more effective educators. Improving our adult education training will result in a workforce and population that is better educated and trained. A better educated workforce produces higher quality products and services, eliminating losses for substandard production. A better educated worker is happier in their occupation, eliminating loss of production due to excessive time off work and excessive employee turnover. Both the consumer and the worker stand to benefit from more accessible adult education training.