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'Are you experienced?': postmodernity and experiential learning

Edwards R (1994) 'Are you experienced?': postmodernity and experiential learning, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 13 (6), pp. 423-436.

Experiential learning is part of the canon of the theory and practice of adult learning. However, most of the writing on this subject tends to be normative, i.e. arguing whether or not experiential learning is a ‘good' thing, or mechanical, i.e. how it occurs and how it can be facilitated. Less has been said about why or how this ‘progressive' educational idea has become important in educational/training discourse in a period of ‘new right' government. Drawing on the debates surrounding the notion of postmodernism and, more specifically, the sociology of postmodernism, I suggest that experiential learning offers a space in which the conflicting assumptions and values of the ‘new right' and ‘new middle class' (the burgeoning cultural producers and intermediaries) compete for ascendancy, as part of the construction of a ‘common sense'. In general, support from the government for practices that recognize and develop experiential learning have been met with positively by adult educators/trainers, as giving recognition and status to our work. It is suggested that the support for these measures has more to do with the government's desire to restore (self‐)discipline within the social formation. It is argued that experiential learning is integral to postmodernism and, therefore, as adult educators/trainers, in order to understand our own practices better, we need to understand and engage in debates about postmodernism.

AuthorsEdwards Richard
Publication date11/1994
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 0260-1370

International Journal of Lifelong Education: Volume 13, Issue 6

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