Qualification paths of adult educators: A comparative study of Sweden and Denmark
2010 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
This paper presents results from a study of the qualification of adult educators in Denmark and Sweden. It describes the role the qualification of adult educators plays in policy, the opportunities for those interested in qualifying as adult educators and the adult educators’ status as a profession. Further, for adult educators to become professional, they need to develop a professional identity, and the formation of this identity is studied through narrative interviews with prospective adult educators. The aim of the study is to understand the qualification paths and professional development of the prospective adult educator through the perspectives of policy, available opportunity structures, and individual trajectories. The study includes general as well as vocational and liberal adult education.
The result draws on an analysis of policy documents and public information, and 29 narrative interviews with people currently or recently undertaking teacher education at the university or other courses preparing the participants to become adult educators. The approach is here based in the idea that individual motivations for working in the field of adult education and the learning process that leads to the formation of competences, qualifications and professional identity in this field can be better understood by applying a biographical perspective (Horsdal, 2002). In the analysis of narratives/interviews, central guiding concepts were trajectory, and particularly learning trajectory, and identity, inspired by a situated and social learning perspective (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Rogoff, 1995; Wenger 1998). Rogoff’s (1995) model of analysing processes of learning on different, but intertwined, levels has been an inspiration in analysing the qualification paths for adult educators in relation to policies and opportunities for such qualification.
The main drivers for an increased focus on adult education and training in both countries seem to be the needs of the labour market in light of globalisation and international competition as well as the Lisbon strategy. The study shows that in spite of this increased focus on adult education and training and its importance, in the policy papers there seems to be a lack of interest in the quality of the provision in terms of the education and learning process, including the qualification of the adult educators.
In relation to the options for those interested in qualifying as adult educators, it is difficult to find courses or education programmes offering initial education and training. Instead, most courses and education programmes either offer in-service or a combination of initial and in-service education and training. Thus, there are few opportunities to acquire the professional knowledge and identity as adult educator before entering the field. This is also indicated through the fact that many of the interviewees have a background as acting (un-qualified) adult educators, before entering professional training. In addition, adult educators to a high degree develop their competencies as adult educators through work. The main conclusions of the study concern the situation that the professional development of adult educators depend on the varying types of learning trajectories they follow, in contexts where the opportunity structures for becoming an adult educator are vague.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
adult educator, qualification, learning trajectory
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-59862OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-59862DiVA: diva2:353711
6th European Research Conference. Adult Learning in Europe - understanding diverse meanings and contexts, 23-26 September, Linköping, Sweden