Letter from the President
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
As I write my final newsletter article as AAACE president, I am deeply moved by how much our organization is needed right now. Today I watch as Americans are in heated debates over issues like social protest, respect for authority and respect from those in authority, the meaning and power of symbols, fairness and opportunity for all citizens, what it means to be a leader in the modern world, and a plethora of other nuanced issues. One of the reasons we as adult educators are needed right now because there is so much information available, almost too much information. The 21st century adult lives in a world where there is more information available in a week of the New York Times newspaper than the average adult living 300 years ago encountered in his/her entire lifetime (“Did you Know”, 2017)! Helco (1994) makes reference to this need for learning in the modern world: the competitive edge belongs not to those who know more information, but to those who can better organize knowledge and “explain what is worth knowing and why” (as cited in Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 20). I am intrigued by that final phrase: understanding “what is worth knowing and why”. Where are adult learners going to learn more about what is worth knowing and why? Facebook? Twitter? The evening news? Talk radio? Now is the time for the adult educator! People need to know what is worth knowing and why!
I have often said, in writing and in public, that one of the things that drew me to this organization was the amazing breadth of our community. Our members are working to educate adults in schools/colleges/universities, prisons, online programs, community centers, vocational training centers, literacy programs, hospitals, museums, senior citizen centers, religious organizations, military training centers, government agencies, corporate training centers, … the list goes on. We work and serve where the adults are. We are where the opportunities are… We are needed!
My former boss and current Chancellor of the Piedmont Campus of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Susan Elkins, used to often say that if you want to change a community, you do so through education. As my career continues, I become more convinced that learning creates opportunity, and not just financial opportunity. Adult learning helps create “thinking adults”, and thinking adults help change their world! Want to change your world?
Thank you for the privilege of serving you as AAACE president. I look forward to seeing you in Memphis.