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I think that Lindeman was ahead of his time on what constitutes adult education. Lindeman understood that the concept of a being a life long learner has to embrace the realm of adult education as opposed to "conventional education." Similar to his friend, John Dewey, Lindeman understood that one of the basic assumptions behind adult education was to draw on the experience of learner in the process of instruction:
None but the humble become good teachers of adults. In an adult class the student’s experience counts for as much as the teacher’s knowledge...sometimes it is difficult to discover who is learning most, the teacher or the students.
Lindeman's basic assumption was that there is a rich and vibrant tapestry of life experiences that constitute adult education. The notion of learning in the adult educational setting is one in which instructor and learner both learn simultaneously.
Along these lines is Lindeman's assumption that the educational setting of adults draws upon their experience in the learning process. There is not a clear authority structure that demeans and belittles adults. Rather, it is a configuration in which education is synonymous with cooperation and mutual respect:
Adult education is a co-operative venture in non-authoritarian, informal learning the chief purpose of which is to discover the meaning of experience; a quest of the mind which digs down to the roots of the preconceptions which formulate our conduct; a technique of learning for adults which makes education coterminous with life, and hence elevates living itself to the level of an experiment.
This "non- authoritarian" structure of learning is one in which Lindeman's assumptions behind the intrinsic goodness of democracy is evident. The thinker who said on his last day of life that "This country is a beautiful country- Don't let McCarthy spoil it," is a thinker who believed that adult education can give more to the sensibilities of a great democracy:
Adult education will become an agency of progress if its short-term goal of self-improvement can be made compatible with a long-term, experimental but resolute policy of changing the social order.
The ability to enable education to draw upon adult experiences as a reservoir for "changing the social order" becomes another assumption that underscores Lindeman's view of education. As one examines his assumptions for the education of adults, one realizes that the validity of such notions can be applicable to all notions of education, in general.
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