The role of adult education in contemporary American society : an analysis of the relationship between social change and the increase in participation in adult education
The study sought to identify the relationship between the increase in participation in adult education and the rate of social change in American society. Three major research questions were examined: 1) What changes are taking place in the traditional social institutions which may be causing adults to rely upon education as a means of adjustment; 2) What are the effects of technology upon the cultural values in contemporary American society; 3) What changes are taking place in the social roles and responsibilities of American adults.The study related the knowledge of the intellectual and psychological growth of adults to educational programming, and suggested the role which adult education will continue to play in the immediate future. Relevant publications by social critics and educators were examined, and statistical information related to social change in the United States was cited. It was determined that there had been dramatic social change in the United States during this century as a result of the deep and pervasive impact of technology on all aspects of society. As an example it was reported that an enormous upheaval in family life was refected in the 350% increase in the divorce rate in the fifteen year period from 1960 to 1975.The impact which this change has had upon individual adjustment is reflected in the fact that the largest percentage of increase in reasons for participation in adult education programs was in the area of personal and family interests and that the increase itself was strongly related to the general increase in participation in adult education programs by women.The study concluded that the changing role of women in society and the upheaval in family life was related to the increase in the number of women taking courses for personal and family reasons. It concluded that the impact of technological change on all aspects of society would have to be dealt with by educators for many years to come, directly assisting adults to develop the flexibility and creativity necessary to adapt to change. It recommended specific areas for planning adult education programs, and cited a number of areas of sociological and educational concern which were raised during the study, to which other scholars might address themselves.