A clear implication which has emerged so far is that a curriculum for adult education cannot be founded on disciplines. Any curriculum must appropriately reflect the location of the field of study in the practical and the critical and if we will concentrate on the implications for curriculum design and teaching, leaving the questions of research for later. In curricular terms therefore, we would suggest that the starting point is not practice per se but practice problems. These need to be articulated ,so that the frameworks of practice can be surfaced and analyzed and the effect of discursive and structural constrains assessed, in effect, the process is one of examining the way in which practice is framed and constrained, this has been characterized as renormalizing practice since it result in practice no longer being seen as normal or reutilized practice as we have seen can be routine, habitual, unproductive, the demoralizing of practice is therefore the beginning of a critical, self questioning approach to practice the beginnings of the dialogue with and about practice which can lead to an appreciation of alternative possibilities but which always starts with and maintains a focus on particular practice problem.
Adult education curricula which use experiential approaches do this but then take things no further. Surfacing and questioning the frame works of informal theory is an essential first step, but the frame works themselves may be so constraining that they do not suggest the possibility of better options.
We have also seen that we cannot apply formal theory to informal theory but it could probably help in perceiving the terrain of the letter more clearly. To understand clearly what we mean here we need to backtrack to a point made earlier. That formal theory as product is generated thought a practice informed by formal theory as frame work. The end to which the practice is directed in case of formal theory is the generation of conceptual representations of an abstract kind that are designed to reflect and model the world. Although the practice of generating formal theory as product is an activity, it is not it self the activity of the practitioner it is, in effect one step removed from it, and the kinds of choices and decisions that are made reflect this. They are concerned with understanding, interpretations and appropriation. Therefore can the representation and explanation of formal theory help? formal theory (in the sense that it is outside the immediate world of everyday practice)can help by facilitating the re-presentation of a practice problem, not thought direct application but as a source of metaphors and sensitizing concept with which to view in different way and to reformulate the problem. The curricular problem therefore is to surface the extent of this influence and examine its contribution, if any to practi9ce problems.
From a teaching point of view, dealing with formal theory as product is difficult, since it is part of the taken for granted.
Formal theory as codified knowledge has a certain status and academic legitimacy consequently practitioners when they become students tend to be overawed and reluctant to question it. At the same time, they feel that its concerns are not directly theirs, even thought they cannot fully articulate their reasons for this, we have noted this problem earlier and saw that it origination but the same site of application in practice.
Given the relationship of formal theory as product or formal theory as framework it is more productive to start with the latter, when practitioners as students examine the underlying framework they can see, for example, how theories of learning take the particular form they do and how they are as much a construct a therefore amenable to problem aviation as their own informal theory in a sense one can see this as a process of putting formal theory as frame work. Thus contextualized, it can be seen as explaining he world in particular way and from a particular stand-point and being more or less helpful in so doing ultimately, therefore a pragmatic test.
If adult education as a field of study is to be located in the practical, then the primary curriculum aim must be the enhancements and improvement of practice rather than the accumulation of formal knowledge such a curriculum should enable practitioners to develop a reflective awareness of practice and facilitate their engagement in praxis. The approach we are suggesting has a number of advantages by focusing on practice and practice problem and by recognizing the existence of informal theory, the curriculum can thereby be made relevant ,rigor can be preserved there are also a number of wider implications which need stressing. The first is that the distraction between theorists and practitioners needs to be softened. Theorists and teachers who in adult education tend to be one and the same need to be both more aware and more knowledgeable about practice in the field, another implications is that adult education in adopting the practical needs to re-conceptualize its notion of theory and thus its epistemology generally theory is not confined solely to the knowledge contained in discipline, the knowledge contained in practice has to be recognized.
The title of this book is” Adult Education as Theory, Practice and Research”
The captive Triangle
By Robin Usher and Ian Bryant (1989)