04 SES 01 A, Inclusion And Adult Learning: Vulnerabilities, Participation And 'Self-Building'
If we adopt the perspective of sociologists such as Bauman, Beck, and Sennet, we cannot but agree that the economy, and the financial and profit-driven logic underpinning it, have taken the place of politics and ethics in our contemporary era (Becarelli, 2010:42), or rather, that they have come to correspond to political and ethical thought and action within the various - organizational and institutional - contexts of adult life and experience.
Today’s cultural, educational, and - we might say - anthropological agenda is an economic agenda, or more precisely, an agenda that seeks functionality and immediate/instrumental economic-financial efficiency.
Unfortunately, the disastrous global - and paradoxically also economic - problems generated by this model - in which the economy rules supreme, dictating the widespread adoption of performance-driven economic policies - are there for all to see (ibid.:42).
Inevitably, this is also at the expense of adult education and training policies and the resulting offerings and practices, which - as we know - have been taken over by mainly technical-scientific approaches to and methods of knowledge acquisition, and whose purpose is to cater for the current system.
The paradoxical outcome of all of this is the exclusion, in the field of adult education, of adults affected by new forms of fragility and vulnerability. These adults suffer distress and marginalization due to the multiple, diverse and ongoing transitions marking their lives: transitions that are constitutive, predictable and chosen, but also unpredictable and unchosen. A new category of adults, who are often equipped with a reasonable level of resources and who are not necessarily disadvantaged from a socio-economic or cultural point of view or caught up in migratory flows.
In my view, the challenge for adult education at both the theoretical and design/operational levels is how to take on board - realistically and in context, and from an educational and not solely therapeutic perspective - key words such as fragility, vulnerability and transitions, problematizing their possible, as opposed to given, generative implications.
Hence, the need for inclusive adult education based on care in its intrinsic and inevitable ethical-political sense. I understand care here as it is defined by Heidegger, that is to say, as attention and ethical responsibility toward the self and others. Contemporary education is called to know “about” and “how to” care, and to provide care for the crucial temporal and spatial category of transition.
In this paper, I explore these principles in relation to specific kinds of transition and specific organizations/institutions. The key question for adult education is how it may enhance and orient crucial adulthood transitions, given that contemporary adults are inevitably required to undergo continuous transitions, with a view to mitigating multiple and diverse forms of exclusion.
The contribution presented here is theoretical from the perspective of theoretical research in the adult education.
As a result we expect a critical problematization of contemporary adult education about theoretical level and consequently of educational operativity level.
Bauman Z., Vita liquida [Liquid Life], Editori, Laterza, 2006. Bauman, Z., Modernità liquida [Liquid Modernity], Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2012. Beck U., Costruire la propria vita [Life Construction], Il Mulino, Bologna, 2008. Bruner J., La ricerca del significato. Per una psicologia del sociale [Acts of Meaning, 1990], Bollati Boringhieri, Torino, 1992. Castiglioni M., (ed.). L'educazione degli adulti tra crisi e ricerca di senso [Adult education in times of crisis and searching for meaning], Unicopli, Milano, 2011. Castiglioni M., La parola che cura [Words that care], Edizioni Librerie Cortina, Raffaello Cortina Editore, Milano, 2016.
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