ERIC Number: EJ877367
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jan
Reference Count: 10
Learning and Therapy--Oppositional or Complementary Processes?
Adults Learning, v16 n5 p16-17 Jan 2005
The idea that post-school education has been influenced by a "therapeutic turn" in recent years has been subjected to critical scrutiny by a number of commentators. Learning initiatives which are dominated by objectives linked to personal and social skills, emotional intelligence and boosting self-esteem and confidence have been labelled as reductionist, serving to divert attention from serious and genuine education and training goals. Contemporary educational aims linked to such strategies have been attacked for encouraging a "victim culture" which marginalises learners and replaces the pursuit of knowledge and understanding with the development of personal qualities required for a life of social and economic risk and uncertainty. In Kathryn Ecclestone's recent article in "Adults Learning," she expressed concern about the growing popularity of such notions as "self esteem" and "emotional intelligence" in educational circles. Most of the examples she gave to support this claim, however, were drawn from the popular press and the field of counselling. It is true that these concepts now feature more prominently in textbooks on post-compulsory education and training (PCET) but this is vastly different from showing that they actual "influence" learning, curriculum and assessment in schools and colleges. Ecclestone regrets the replacement of "optimistic Rogerian ideas about humans' innate potential and drive for empowerment" with "pessimistic images of people locked in cycles of social deprivation caused by emotional problems." If this were true it would, indeed, be regrettable. However, it seems to the author that--apart from a highly theoretical, inspirational impact akin to that of Freire on adult literacy tutors--Rogers has never had any "practical" influence on the English PCET sector. The author argues that the pessimistic perspectives are no more influential. If the argument is about the subversion of the traditional aims of education and training--the reduction of knowledge and understanding to personal qualities--then it merits attention. However, such traditional aims of post-school education and training have been comprehensively and grossly mutated in recent years by the rise of skill-talk and competence-based education and training (CBET). The author contends that without the non-formal, extra-curricular dimension of learning, formal objectives may remain remote, incoherent and meaningless for many students. If it is decided that the label for such processes and activities is "therapeutic," then, the author says, he is a fervent advocate of a therapeutic education which is both inclusive and non-intrusive.
Descriptors: Educational Objectives, Adult Education, Reader Response, Rhetorical Criticism, Learning Processes, Educational Methods, Educational Practices
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.niace.org.uk/publications/adults-learning
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Authoring Institution: N/A