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ERIC Number: EJ877353
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jan
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
Education "for" Health
Parrott, Allen
Adults Learning, v16 n5 p14-15 Jan 2005
In her recent article ("Adults Learning," Vol. 16, No. 3), Kathryn Ecclestone makes clear her distaste for links between education and therapy. She is opposed to education being seen as a route to "emotional wellbeing" or to "raised self-esteem", which are modish, under-researched concepts at best. If adult educators are unwise enough to be enthusiastic about this recent trend in education, they will unwittingly be contributing to "low educational horizons and negative views of people". Whatever benign influence they may think they are having, they are in fact being patronising and helping to sustain a cultural "demoralisation" in which people's "potential for autonomy and ... capacity for resilience and stoicism" has been reduced. In a longer, more academic article in "The British Journal of Education" (Vol. 54, No. 3) she took the attack further. To be concerned with the psychological health or well-being of adult learners is to betray the radical tradition of adult education. Adult educators who make such concerns central to their work have entered a professional comfort zone, where today's soft and woolly psychology has replaced yesterday's hard-edged and jagged politics. These are serious charges and the author takes such criticism personally, because for over 20 years the author has been engaged in encouraging exactly the type of health-related adult education Ecclestone dislikes. It has never felt like a comfort zone. On the contrary, the author's long-held view that the boundaries between educational and therapeutic interventions are amorphous and permeable rather than fixed and rigid has never gone down well, except with a few like-minded colleagues. In this response, the author contends that Ecclestone's case is not just mistaken, but that it needs to be completely turned on its head to get nearer to the truth. Education "for" health, of the kind Ecclestone deplores, is actually the most hopeful development in recent adult education history precisely because it does not diminish and reduce learners.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A