In Defense of the Lifeworld

Critical Perspectives on Adult Learning

Edited by Michael R. Welton

Subjects: Social Theory
Series: SUNY series, Teacher Empowerment and School Reform
Paperback : 9780791425404, 264 pages, August 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425398, 264 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents

Introduction by Michael R. Welton

1. The Critical Turn in Adult Education Theory
Michael R. Welton

2. Transformation Theory of Adult Learning
Jack Mezirow

3. Critical Commentaries on the Role of the Adult Educator: From Self-Directed Learning to Postmodernist Sensibilities
Michael Collins

4. Motherwork: A Radical Proposal to Rethink Work and Education
Mechthild Hart

5. In Defense of the Lifeworld: A Habermasian Approach to Adult Learning
Donovan Plumb

Conclusion: Dialogue, Encounters, and Debates



Offers a radical rethinking of the meaning of work and learning in all domains of adult life: a "best of adult education" reader.


In Defense of the Lifeworld brings together five important critical commentaries on the state of the discipline and practice of adult education in North America. Jack Mezirow, Michael Collins, Mechthild Hart, Michael Welton and Donovan Plumb draw on critical theory, feminism and postmodernism. They examine the historical emergence of critical learning theory, the psycho-cultural dimensions of transformative learning theory, the vocation of the adult educator in our immoral times, the need to radically rethink the meaning of work and learning, the contribution of Habermas to the development of a new social learning paradigm and the provocative challenge from postmodernist discourses to the critical adult education project.

This innovative text contends that the human lifeworld (where we learn what life means, what binds us together and what constitutes an autonomous personality) is deeply threatened in our late twentieth century world. Consequently, the task of the critical adult educator is to preserve and extend forms of communicative action through reflection, dialogue and critique.

Michael R. Welton is Professor of Education at Dalhousie University. He has also written Knowledge for the People: The Struggle for Adult Learning in English Speaking Canada, 1828-1973; Toward Development Work: The Workplace as a Learning Environment; and Educating for a Brighter New Day: Women's Organizations as Learning Sites.