Cristina Maria Coimbra Vieira comments on the article “Impact beyond the tests: adult education that makes a real difference”
Associate Professor, Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education, University of Coimbra, Portugal
The article of Chanell Butler-Moreno consists in an excellent contribution to discuss the profound excluding potential of psychometric approach in the research of human behavior. The positivist principles that govern quantitative criteria, which tend to be widely accept among professionals of social sciences, may compel them/us to design intervention programs for ‘abstract subjects’ (designed from standard samples) that simply do not represent or include real persons, with specific and individual needs. Such a discussion led also us to combat the idea one ‘one-size fits-all’ science, in order to develop more inclusive and efficient approaches to meet idiosyncratic needs and challenges that people may have, no matter their age, socio-economic background or “position” in the imagined ranking based on their performance.
It is well-known the fact that students learn better and with higher motivation when the contents being learned are important to them and when they can easily understand the utility of such matters to their daily life. This is what happened with the participants of The Adult Basic Education (ABE) Programme at Catawba Valley Community College, in Hickory, North Carolina, USA. They were involved in tasks and contexts that correspond somehow to their routines and to their level of understanding and aspirations. The mentors of the programme privileged real-life situations instead of focusing primarily on abstract concepts and on the development of so-called ‘hard-skills’. Probably these students will never be able to have results above mean on standardized intelligence tests or may never be able to use their mother language to write a brilliant text or to do a magnificent speech. But, these kind of tasks are only some examples among the myriad of human expressions that are socially valued and that should be fostered in formal and non formal educational environments.
Respecting individual capabilities and taking in account contextual factors (including access to resources that subjects are able to use) in which students live and may design their own future should be guiding lines in designing any kind of programmes with the goal of social inclusion. To do so it is needed more than sensitivity or an open attitude on the part of teachers and other kind of professionals, like psychologist and social workers or rehabilitation counselors (that are mentioned in the article). A solid formation/knowledge on scientific contents related to human development and performance, a systemic view about social inclusion, an awareness about human diversity and a coherent acquisition – and exhibition – of values related to citizenship are some of the main ingredients that an adult educator should possess, whether he/she is working or not with people with special needs.
Links to the AED 85/2018 publication in three languages: English, French, Spanish
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