Michael Collins, the author of the book ‘Adult Education as Vocation’, managed to investigate the learning process of the adult environment through the presentation of the education process as a distinguishable field of practice. The principal purpose of the book review is aimed at providing a critical evaluation of the modern adult education system and its role for academics, practitioners, and policymakers. The paper is structurally organized presenting the details of Collins’ education analysis. It is necessary to stress, that the review is merely focused on the ‘vocation’ role in adult education. Secondly, it stresses self-directed learning as an integral p[part of learning education; besides, the book review highlights major strengths, weaknesses, and themes disclosed by Collins based on his educational research.
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Purpose of the book
The idea of the book is concentrated on the necessity of professional educators to be aware of every aspect of political, ethical, and technical dimensions of performed work. Collins managed to draw a line between such notions as technique idealization and professionalism to disclose the professionalization opposition to transformative pedagogy.
Collins used the concepts ‘professionalism and training’ as the basic approach to theme description. The analysis of Collins’ education investigation allowed the author’s stress on such concepts in the learning process to demonstrate them through the adult educator’s reflection of their practice.
The adult education process was presented as the basic way to vocation identification, or personal search for his calling in the professional sphere; the author highlighted the idea of self-directed learning significance, presenting it as the central technique serving the individual in his conditioning into taken-for-granted acceptance. Collins demonstrated the idea that adult educators sticking to self-directed learning, are considered to be willing collaborators; he noted that this technique helps express concern through autonomous decision making.
Collins highlighted the significance of self-directed learning in the education process; he stressed that this aspect appeared to be centralized in the adult education practice. Initially, by the author, self-directed learning was perceived as the central distinctive factor between schooling and modern education. It is necessary to underline the fact that this method is aimed at the development of necessary learning strategies allowing the learners to take center stage; besides, this method takes into account the experience and skills of adult learners as well as their ambitions and initiative.
Collins strived to highlight the idea of adult educators practicing placing it on the first position; though he managed to express certain criticism of practical issues operating within political relationships; this point was grounded through the following issues:
- Power definition is based on individual lines;
- The concepts ‘how to’ and ‘what for’ substituted each other and do not function together.
He expressed his firm support of adult education seeing adult education as a vocation; it is necessary to underline the fact that vocation in the author’s vision should be interpreted as a spiritual mission to be followed because of God’s will.
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Major themes are aimed at the self-directed learning process, which is based on the learner perceiving him as the principal initiator of the learning process. The secondary light in this aspect is given to teachers and class; the author managed to underline the idea that this method helps adult learners to become more mature and get complete independence in the development of learning skills and strategies. It should be noted that every adult educator sticking to self-directed learning becomes completely responsible for pedagogic technique managing; the negotiation process is connected with specifying clear objectives and strategies of learning.
Collins’ contribution can be evaluated through his disclosure of important techniques being related to self-directed learning, for example, the learning contract appeared to be accommodative to societal and institutional needs. By the author’s theory, the methodology used in this aspect of adult education has been harnessed to curriculum projects development centralizing the competency-based character of adult education.
The author successfully identified the results of continuing education based on the following obsolescence dangers:
- Improper usage of professional knowledge;
- The disability to keep pace with time and stick to new developments.
The author managed to demonstrate the disclosure of professionalization as the elements providing emphasis on adult education through a theoretical base; the process covers scientific standards and methods, as well as professional training. The line between the two mentioned notions was drawn based on their scientific nature; ‘professionalization’ is considered to be juxtaposed scientifically with social movements. Besides, the author underlined the fact that adult educators are in a constant process of fostering their marginalized status; one is to stress that in the adult education process leaders emerge to assume their rights to speak and act shaping the discourse, being aimed at practice perspectives.
Strengths of the book are considered to be focused on causes of adult education crisis connected with technique fixation, community and autonomous interests erosion, and the attempts to increase and improve adult education professionalization. The author stressed the significance of modern adult education analyzing it through political and ethical aspects. The necessity of developing the sense of vocation is explained by human importance to make technological and technical aspects are completely subordinate to practical and ethical considerations, based on a human scale and impersonal programming. Collins noted that this idea was not connected with a lowered emphasis on established competent performance; it is necessary to stress that, such issues as, program evaluation, professionalization, design, assessment, and educator training, are to be approached through the needs of adult learners, rather than those of bureaucrats and corporate representatives. Besides, his theoretical study underlined the necessity of adult educators’ guide of transformative pedagogy principles, emphasizing social studies, rather than various psychological theories. Collins stressed the central position of transformative education being closely related to the engendering democratic relations between learners and adult educators; he noted the opportunity of extending this form of education to formal institutions creation and work pace providing.
Nevertheless, the author failed to mention the aspects of gender and ethnicity in the adult education process. Adult educators are to be aware of political organizational negotiations, as well as sociostructural terms; his position relates adult education to the wider power system functioning in the society; this aspect is aimed at underlining explicit social vision of adult education interests. It is necessary to underline the fact that the central problem of the adult education process as a vocation is considered to be focused on civic responsibility and detachment; lawless and irresponsible multinationals are merely concentrated on profit rather than education results.
By the work reflected by Collins, the adult education process as a vocation is to be merely concentrated on the development of personal individual techniques and strategies of effective self-directed learning methods. Michael Collins paid special attention to the identification of possible dangers influencing the vocation position being pushed to the margins because of thorough concentrations on technical expertise peculiarities. He noted the fact that adult educators are to focus on a deep understanding of their motivations and the process of individual practice improvement. Collins’ identification of vocation is concentrated on thoughtful ethical commitment being vital to the profession of teaching; nevertheless, this concept was considerably overlooked in modern society because of personal advancement and social mobility. The professionalism debate illustrated by the author was merely focused on the vocation concentration and its practical manifestations.
The book is aimed at educators, learners, trainers, and policymakers, allowing them to evaluate the positioning of the modern adult education system and its role in society. Michael Collins managed to contribute to the development of the adult education sphere through the most important book of his called ‘Adult Education as Vocation’. The author demonstrated the peculiarities of comparative analysis and the link between adult education in the past and the modern one. He stressed the idea that technological domination influenced the development of adult education strategies; he outlined the significance of self-directed learning in adult education as an integral part of pedagogical methodologies development. Besides, the book managed to disclose the peculiarities of vocation manifestations as the central element of the education process; the ability to find a calling in the professional sphere will be helpful in the formation of effective results in the professionalization. Collins reflected vocation through ethical, political, and social spheres of modern life linking it to the creation of effective methodologies and strategies in modern formal education.
Collins, M. (1991). Adult Education as Vocation: A Critical Role for the Adult Educator. London & New York: Routledge.