Posted in #Future, Diabetes, Education, Life, Uncategorized

Diabetic Ramblings from a Friday

So it’s Friday, and it has been a weird, busy, and highly productive week.  Some days with diabetes are harder than others; some weeks are better than others.  This week has been a little rough.

One thing currently happening; I’m still fighting to get a new insulin pump.  The process has been frustrating and I’ve been denied four times already.  That said, my CDE, doctor and I have worked together to come up with a plan for how to get more documentation and show my insurance company that I really do need this!

The artificial pancreas technology looks AMAZING.  It looks like a new life; like one that makes me a little less inconvenient.  It looks like I might get a better chance at a normal mid-life; something I was hesitant to even day dream about before now. But here we are, and here is this great opportunity…and here is this insurance company trying to take away the awesome.  Sigh.  What is with this people?!

That said, I feel it is so important to remember that these individuals that are tasked with telling me no are not really telling me.  I let myself get out of control with my emotions a couple of weeks ago about it; I sat in my car and sobbed and screamed and interrupted my parents’ date day with a crazed phone call where I told them I was going to be done with insurance companies and just pay for the damn thing myself.

In that moment, my dad (who is notoriously hyper-focused and driven; much like I was in that moment),  shared an important note.  “This is not the first fight.  It’s not the last fight.  They just don’t see it yet.  You’re going to need to do a lot more fighting and make some clear decisions you can live with forever here. ”

He didn’t realize it completely, but I needed him to be my voice of reason.  I needed him to say it was okay to step back.  I needed him and my mom to share that they understood I was doing everything possible and that it was okay for me to refocus, try again, and take the weekend off from the craziness.

They gave me an important gift with that phone call and the ones following.  They reminded me that my ability to stay strong, upright, and kind, even in the most frustrating of situations, is one of my best qualities.

Thursday I was sitting in a meeting with a supervisor of mine, who shared that he could “See the leader in me”.  I like to think that the leader in me is someone who has bad days, but knows when to step back, take a deep breath, and re-assess the attack.

Today, I had to recognize that I was losing. I had to reassess my attack.  I was losing the week. I needed help; managing and trying and problem solving on my own wasn’t as productive, focused, or intelligent as I needed it to be.  I pride myself on getting things under control and on keeping myself focused and here I was, all week, fighting blood sugars that could have sent someone to the hospital. They really could’ve sent me to the hospital.  Thank goodness for a support system, technology, medication, and some solid math skills that kept that from happening!

But I called the hospital today, requested an appointment, explained that it was really important, and managed to get in with my CDE at the end of the day. Together we problem solved and she helped me figure out what tiny steps I could take to regaining control after having no control for about a week.  Tiny steps, but BIG steps in feeling like myself (which I haven’t, in at least week).

One of those steps was admitting that I’m not feeling well and that it’s not my diabetes. Even “normal” people get colds and the flu sometimes; it’s apparently a human thing.  I have been trying to power through.  I have not allowed myself the space, time, or mental relief of admitting that my body has been getting in the way of me doing and being my best self. I’m always just powering through. I’m forever living the “fake it til you make it” lifestyle that comes from a chronic illness others can’t see.  Sometimes I struggle to tell when I “genuinely” am sick and when it’s “just” a diabetes problem.  Today, and this week, it turns out it’s a little of both.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I suspect there are a lot of us who don’t feel amazing every day. I suspect most of us carry on and don’t say anything. I assume some of us feel guilty about complaining because there are so many moments we should be thankful for. I hear you folks! I’m with you!

So here’s to a weekend of relaxing, getting some much needed rest, and trying my best to recuperate and regain control of my blood sugars.  Happy weekend everyone!

 

 

 

Posted in Diabetes, Life, Uncategorized

Diabetes makes me inconvenient…

Diabetes makes me inconvenient.  I know this; it is a fact.  I don’t say that to blame anyone or feed into some idea that this is an injustice of a chronic illness.  It’s simply a fact.

See, diabetes doesn’t care.  It is demanding in a way that makes Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada seem warm and maternal.  Diabetes doesn’t care that I’m out with friends; that I’m standing in my best friend’s bridal party, that I’m the adult in charge of thirty minors in my care.  It doesn’t care that my parents are trying to care for my elderly grandparents and therefore cannot be expected to care for me too.  It doesn’t care that it’s Christmas day and I’m surrounded by friends and family who all just want to celebrate a beautiful, religious, holy day.  It doesn’t care that I met the love of my life and had a terrible low blood sugar on our fourth date and needed assistance (where we were celebrating his thirtieth birthday).  It just doesn’t care.

Because it doesn’t care; because it has a list of demands and needs that must be met immediately, and because it is a huge part of who I am, I am inconvenient.  It’s not just my disease; it is me.  I have to follow the eating and exercising schedule; I have to take the medication; I have to stop and check my blood sugar.  If I don’t do these things, I have to deal with a shorter life span and feeling incredibly ill while I’m living my everyday life. When I travel, I have to take double the amount of supplies for the actual amount of time we’re there, which means I either have to pack an extra bag or give up some of the creature comforts I’d prefer to have when traveling. Diabetes is an “I have to” disease.

It is not lost on me that I have a good attitude about a lot of it.  But again, even this is an “I have to”.  Not because that is expected; everyone I know would probably applaud if I allowed myself to break down and scream into the wind after all of these years.  Instead, my attitude reflects the understanding of what an inconvenient life means for me.

An inconvenient life means that

I’ve spent a lot of my life not talking about there are some things you can’t control, so instead you choose to be flexible and find the light in every situation.  It means identifying that feeling sick and miserable is worse than just feeling sick.  An inconvenient life means having to be confident that the rest of your person is good enough to be worth knowing.  An inconvenient life means remaining positive because if you were angry and spiteful and applied the effect of “why me?”, you might lose the people in your corner.  They might leave you, because who wants to be in someone’s life that is not only miserable, but also inconvenient? this part of chronic illness, but as year twenty-six of this life approaches, it seems important to get really honest about how I got here. As my body ages faster than the time I’m on Earth, it’s more important than ever to share with others the experiences I’m having; to not only crack jokes at my faulty organs’ expense, but then to share the genuine reasoning behind it.

I’m fortunate to be in really good health, considering the twenty-six years of progressive damage caused by type one diabetes. If I’m honest, I attribute some of this health to my attitude towards it; towards my understanding of “have to” and flexibility. I stopped praying for a cure for diabetes a long time ago. I’m able to recognize that some day that will come, and in the meantime I’ll keep being flexible and choosing to be happy despite the inconvenience of it all.

People ask me all the time why I’m so happy; why I’m chipper about having this disease.  It’s because it’s inconvenient.  I’ve lived almost my entire life being an inconvenient person to befriend; to be related to; to love.  The inconvenience has showed me the importance of perspective; of the real meaning behind “life and death” situation. I get up every day and keep going because I choose too, regardless of how bleak it looks.

Inconvenient doesn’t mean bad if we don’t let it ruin things. It’s just a different type of structure.  This life has shown me the importance of choice; the importance of knowing yourself and what you need. We can be upset that it’s raining,  or we can be thankful for the drink. We can be bothered that it is windy, or we can decide to build a sail boat and move on.  This perspective comes from a lot of effort and years and heartache. It has been a battle hard won, but I’d do it again.  I wouldn’t change my perspective for all of the convenience in the world. Fortunately, I can confidently say the people in my life wouldn’t trade me either; no matter how inconvenient it is to have me around.

 

Posted in Books, Imagination, Travel, Uncategorized

I LOVE a good bookstore!

Every time we travel anywhere, we always make a point of checking out the local bookstores.  Big chains, independent, used, textbook sales; you name it, we check it out.  Even when we were overseas and the bookstores didn’t have a ton of English titles, we still went.

Why do we do this? Because there is something breathtaking about being in a space where you’re surrounded by knowledge.  There is something life altering about immersing yourself in others’ imaginations; even if it’s just a glance inside from reading the covers; it’s absolutely gorgeous.

My partner is so patient with me in these locations.  He loves the stores equally, immensely, but it’s my sheer, childlike joy and my demands to find books, sit on the floor with them (regardless of designated spaces), smell them and read the first ten pages of each potential buy that makes me a weirdo.

Because he knows me well, we started our date day yesterday (Sunday Funday!) with books.  Big, beautiful books and deep, sweet, vibrant coffee; two of my most favorite of all things.

Ithaca,  NY has a number of beautiful, small town local shops but also a number of chains and “big box” stores that provide a great variety to those of us who frequent the small city.  What always fascinates me about Ithaca is even the big box stores are uniquely Ithacan; they are filled with diverse, interesting things and wonderfully odd people from all different backgrounds and incredible, joyful things happen surrounded by the individuality and absurdity we always seem to find there.

There are simply, not enough adjective and adverb pairings to describe every facet of Ithaca,NY.  Go visit whenever you get a chance!

Anyhow, on our visit to Barnes and Nobles in Ithaca, I found not only the robust, Cinnamon Dolce flavored coffee that makes me want to pay that kind of money for Starbucks, but also the books.  SO MANY BOOKS! So many amazing experiences with so much to offer.

Full disclosure; I really wreck stuff this time of year.  I get bored, I get anxious, and I find myself seeking escape in vacations I can’t afford and crazy DIY projects that turn our usually beautiful apartment into a glittering, shag rug, macrame-made, terrible art gallery  with supplies everywhere, kind of mess.

I also get crafty with food, which typically doesn’t end poorly for myself or anyone involved.  In general, that makes much of this insanity okay.

As I strolled through Barnes & Nobles though, I found myself entranced and genuinely excited about all of the things I could learn and fall into.  Books I could fall in love with; books that would feel like a vacation and a Martha Stewart style living space.  Books that would take the edge off the weather (which has promptly returned to February up North versus the 48 hours of February down South), and remind me that this seasonal slump will pass.

I picked up five paperbacks that spoke to me (in cover and descriptions and reviews only) and then found Nick in the graphic novels to tell him that I would be starting my floor-sitting, coffee sipping, 10 pages at a time process.  He nodded and asked me to keep my phone on; I obliged.

I found my corner, participated in my process, and fell madly in love with all five.  I then had to narrow down to three, or forgo all lunch money for the week ahead (and some of my gas money too!).

In the end, I was thrilled.  It was worth the $47 I hadn’t planned to spend on books.  The rest of the trip was wonderful as well, but it was the time in Barnes & Nobles Sunday in Ithaca that really made my weekend.

And so, as much of the weeks ahead pass, you’ll probably see some prompts, ideas, and book reviews on here as I use that inspiration and motivation that only reading and being in that sort of space can provide. I can’t wait to share the joy!

 

 

Posted in BlogABook, Fiction, Imagination, Uncategorized

Tim in Oz…an excerpt from Fairly Oz.

“What are you doing?”

Dorothy’s voice sang out over the giant stalks of the bustling red plants.  Everywhere, she saw munchkins, with their tiny little bodies sprawled all over the ground. On one another, covered in the pollen of the dangerous flowers, reeking of poppy seeds and the guilt of succumbing to an aching addiction.

Tim smiled. “Self medicating”.

Dorothy cocked her head to the side as she looked down at him. His tin face shining in the sun, she had to smile. Even covered in pollen, surrounded by the giant, frightening poppies and the addicted and loopy munchkins, something about him drew her in.

“Get up Tim.  Nothing good ever came from this.”

Dorothy reached her hand down to grab her Tin Man friend. He snickered as he grabbed her hand and pulled her in. She squawked as she fell into him, to the ground, bumping one of the prickly stalks of the giant poppies as she hit the earth. The golden dusted pollen sparkled, as deadly as the edge of a glittering sword, as it fell to the ground and on top of them.

Tim chuckled as Dorothy coughed from the deadly glitter entering her lungs. She sat up, trying to regain some composure. Tim wrapped an arm snug around her hips as he helped her sit up straight. Dorothy felt his cold tin hand on the edge of her skirt. That was Tim, always so close, yet always held back.

Dorothy began to feel heady as she leaned against Tim. Her head resting against his, she felt his head turn gently and press his hardened lips against her forehead. She snuggled in closer, thankful for the coolness, and suddenly aware that she was feeling very warm.

“Tim?”

“Yes, my dear?”

“What do you want from the Wizard? Like, what do you really want? I know you have family somewhere else. I know you have a happy life here in Oz…and really, the poppies are less frightening when you get used to them.”

She felt his body, hard as steel, shift slightly under her.  She turned to look up and over at him.

” I want what you want Dorothy.  I have a feeling I know exactly what a woman like you wants from someone like me.”

Dorothy felt confused…and a little defensive.  What the Hell does he mean? she thought.

” Oh really? What could we both possibly want?”

Tim grinned down at her.  God she loved that smile, even when it was surrounded by sin, addiction, and wit.

“My heart, DeeDee.  We both want me to have a heart.”

Dorothy shifted to turn sideways.  She wanted to see this man with no heart for herself.  “I believe you have one, Tim.  I really do.”

Tim shook his head, an ironic smile playing at the edges of his silvery complexion.  “You just said it Dorothy.  I have a family somewhere else, and here I am sitting on the ground with you, still soaring from this ridiculous dust.  How can you possibly believe I have a heart still?”

Dorothy had to give that a moment’s thought.  She looked around to see some of the munchkins stumbling about, when they caught her eye.  There were two of them, young munchkins, who seemed to be trying desperately to crawl towards the fields next to them.  Dorothy wasn’t sure if this was the time to be concerned or not, so she chose to inhale again to clear her mind of thought.  She wanted to focus on Tim’s question.  Why was she so sure?

Looking over at him again, she saw the dark, brooding tears of a man not quite made of steel building up in his eyes.  It came to her immediately.  “Your guilt!”

He looked stunned for a moment but seemed to recover quickly.  “My guilt?”

“Yes, your guilt! That’s how I know you have a heart!” That is also, she realized, how she knew it belonged somewhere else. “Your guilt! If you didn’t have a heart, you wouldn’t feel bad about the people and things you left behind!  You would just, float into the future, not caring at all.  Like the poppies!”

His hinged jaw fell open, and Dorothy heard the subtle squeak of the metal.  He was stunned.  Never before had he thought of it that way.  He knew somehow that she was right.  If he had no heart, he would not ever miss them.  He would never miss her, the queen that he had adored for so long.  He would never consider giving it all up and going back.

“I have to talk to the Wizard!” Dorothy suddenly knew again that

Posted in Fiction, Imagination, Uncategorized

The Scarecrow…a series piece from Fairly Oz

For an ever brief moment, he looked at her, standing there in the walls of the castle.  “I just took off the shoes.” Dorothy said.  “Thank God” said the Scarecrow as he grabbed her around the waist.  She couldn’t say for sure when it had started, but their relationship had gotten wildly out of hand in her own mind somewhere between their friendship, her longing for the Tin Man and her desperate need to be good enough for the Cowardly Lion.  She often quietly acknowledged to herself that although she wasn’t in love with his looks, he had enjoyed hers enough to look past her shortcomings.

“No one else is here. Liam and The Tin Man are gone. It’ll just be you and me tonight.” Caton couldn’t help smile.  The straw in his hat sticking out, his shirt untucked, he looked as unkempt as the night he met Dorothy, but without Liam and The Tin Man to moderate, he felt unbridled with passion for her.  “I love the way you think,” she said, as he gingerly kissed her neck, the soft scrape of his weather worn, untrimmed face on her cheek. He startled for a moment at her statement.  He’d wanted to be smarter, to be faster, to be as smooth as the Tin Man for as long as he could remember, but always felt like it was an exaggerated, unlikely wish. The Tin Man was so good at remaining composed, so able to know exactly what to say next, and Caton struggled with the moment.

“I know you’re not alone, but I can’t help it.  It’s uncomfortable how I feel about you.  Uncomfortable and amazing and hot and painful and perfect.  I want to remember the conversations we have; I want to know that we’re alike in this.”

Dorothy couldn’t say for sure what to expect, but she had known one thing for certain. With the Tin Man, she felt compelled to follow him and convinced that she knew his heart.  With the Cowardly Lion, she felt ashamed of her past but so willing to do whatever was necessary to be good enough, brave enough, for him.  With The Wizard, Dorothy felt as though she had been deceived in more ways than one; as though his stories and his actions were disconnected, and as though all of the good about her was often frustrating to him.

But here, with Caton, the Scarecrow in desperate need for acceptance of his brain, Dorothy was able to see how far she’d come.  With Caton, Dorothy could accept where she’d been, and to him and his wonderful brain, she was the person she’d always meant to be.  Caton was simply here, in the moment, and wholly accepting of her in a way that few people had been before.  In his quiet, sarcastic friendship, she had fallen for him, and although she knew he was not the lifetime accomplice she craved, he was every bit as important as that character in her story.  Caton frustrated her, refusing to give her the answer even when she asked, but the frustration was a slow itch in her skin.  Unyielding, craving for the scratch, his very words, with his deep voice and the resonate questioning of a scholar made her very skin crawl, both with desire and frustration.

Now, in this moment, she would try to be brave enough to satisfy that itch as much as possible.  Despite her concerns that acting on her deep rooted impulse would end the friendship she needed, Dorothy grabbed his face.  “You are smart”, she whispered, looking deeply into the deep blue eyes surrounded by husk colored lashes. “You are exactly what I can’t get out of my head.  I dream about you all the time. I hear your voice; your staggering one liners, and I know that I have to satisfy this.  And I know this won’t work for long, but I cannot let this go.  I just…want it. I need it. Is that okay?” Her voice faltered at the end as her courage got the better of her and her concerns for the Tin Man, the lion and wizard stormed out.

“It has to be.” He said.  “You’re you, and I’m me, and this has to be enough.”

 

Posted in #Future, Education, Professional Experiences, Uncategorized

Women & Work-Life Initiatives

In the modern world, a larger percentage of women work outside of the home than ever before resulting in unique demands from work and home.  While the contributions these women make to their families financially have changed, the amount of responsibility for their homes and families are often still higher than their partners.  For many women the demands of their household conflict with the demands of their professional lives making the work-life balance more challenging than ever before.  Due to these increased demands on women for work-life balance, it is necessary for the field of human resources to implement work-life balance initiatives such as shared jobs and increased options for flexible hours and compensation programs to meet the growing needs of women in the workforce.

Women still play a primary role in the care of their homes and families.  One study, conducted by Schiebinger and Gilmartin on female scientists in some of the top research facilities in the country, states that “…despite women’s considerable gains in science in recent decades, female scientists do nearly twice as much housework as their male counterparts” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 39).  Although this study only researched women in the science field, the trends of women completing more domestic tasks than their heterosexual partners is relatively consistent throughout the history of women in the workplace.

The impacts of higher levels of stress and demands from home have challenging and detrimental effects on the workplace as well as the workforce.  Workers who cannot find a work-life balance struggle with “higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, reduced productivity,decreased job satisfaction, lower levels of organizational commitment and loyalty, [and] rising health care costs” (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 39). These issues lead to businesses losing some of their best work and result in further issues for businesses that could have been solved through work-life balance initiatives. For female workers especially, who are often primary caregivers for their children and responsible for a large part of the daily functions of their homes, these initiatives are particularly important.

Women are socially expected to be present at their children’s functions, keep up with their housework, care for their aging parents and “drop everything” when their spouses or family need them.  When women do not meet these expectations, they often feel a sense of push back from the people around them, including other women in the workplace.  This idea of being everything for everyone leads to a challenging conundrum when women are working outside of the home; how can businesses help women find a balance between their careers and their lives?

Some organizations have begun taking this into account through programs such as job sharing.  Unlike flex time positions which may still require full time hours condensed into a smaller work week and part time positions, which provide limited benefits and often make it difficult for professional advancement, job sharing allows for more full time benefits and opportunities while still providing coverage and scheduling flexibility (Kane, 28).  For women in job sharing roles, Kane found that women were happier in their positions, had a better overall sense of well-being and had a better sense of balance in their lives.

The well-being of employees and their families and the impact that household demands have on women may also be combated through additional services and benefits being offered by employers.  In combination with more flexible hours and job sharing opportunities, including benefits packages that “provide benefits to support housework” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 40) and offering additional benefits and assistance in times of need or stress may be a solution for improving work-life balance for women.  “Employer recognition, acknowledgement, and understanding of these challenges, coupled with effective support programs can be invaluable in helping employees cope successfully,” particularly in higher stress times of need for families (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 40).

While many businesses have begun to take the concerns of all employees, the impact that work-life initiatives could have on women’s ability to juggle the demands of their lives and their careers is absolutely necessary for the improvement of women’s work conditions, general well-being, and their productivity. Schiebinger and Gilmartin proposed in their study that “…institutions provide a package of flexible benefits that employees can customize to support aspects of their private lives in ways that save time and enhance professional productivity” (40).  This flexible benefits option would be beneficial to all employees, and the customizable options would provide female workers the opportunity to build a plan which works best for them and their family’s needs.

 

These flexible benefits and scheduling hours have particular importance during times of stress for families.  In a study performed by Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, three thousand one hundred twenty-two working individuals in the United States were surveyed about what they considered to be the most stressful events in their life and explored how work-life balance initiatives must be implemented to support employees and build loyalty and productivity within the companies.  The research also provided a case study, which supported the research that by offering managerial support in times of grief or familial strain, and supporting employees with whatever time and efforts could be afforded by the business, employees were more productive and had a much larger amount of loyalty for their organization (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 41).

Combining flexible benefits and scheduling options with a better understanding of the demands placed on women in developing work-life balance will benefit all employees, workplaces and our society. Work-life balance results in happier and healthier female employees who are able to focus on their work and still care for their families, resulting in better productivity and healthier, happier individuals and families.

 

Work Cited

Hobson, C.J., Delunas, L., & Kesic, D. (2001). Compelling Evidence of the Need for Corporate Work/Life Balance Initiatives: Results from a National Survey of Stressful Life-Events.  Journal of Employment Counseling, 38 (1), 38-44.

Kane, D. (1996). A Comparison of Job Satisfaction and General Well-Being for Job Sharing and Part-Time Female Employees. Guidance and Counseling. 11 (3), 27-30.

Schiebinger, L., & Gilmartin, S.K.  (2010). Housework Is An Academic Issue.   Academe, 96 (1), 39-44.

 

As originally submitted for credit at Elmira College in the Corporate & Community Education program. 

Posted in Education, Uncategorized

Community Education: Then & Now

In every society around the world, adults are the primary decision makers and contributors to the communities they belong too.   Community education has always acted as a necessary and vital part of giving individuals the resources, knowledge and experiences necessary to be active and connected members of their society. Community education’s impact is easily seen by investigating the differences in the past from modern community education opportunities on a formal, informal, and non-formal levels.

Throughout American history, adult education and community education have been closely tied in formal, informal, and non-formal settings.  In the past, formal education’s role in community education has been geared toward the upper to middle class individuals and has primarily taken the form of intellectual, academic, post-secondary education.  Opportunities for adult learners to benefit from these higher education programs have been severely limited by a variety of demographic factors, but especially the adult learner’s place in the higher education community (Kasworm, Sandmann, & Sissel, 449).

Today’s society has “heightened perceptions of the importance of the role of higher education in developing knowledgeable, literate citizens for a postmodern global society” (Kasworm, Sandmann & Sissel, 449). While the limitations posed by adult learners continues to “deemphasize this new majority and neglect adult learners” (Kasworm, Sandmann & Sissel, 449), there is far more opportunity today for increased diversity amongst the formal community education setting than there has in the past.  This diversity offers unique perspectives and the sharing of experiences between learners that would have been limited by similar backgrounds and demographic information, such as age and race, in the past.  According to Kasworm, Sandmann, and Sissel, “Universities are faced with embracing diverse groups of learners, new sites of learning, new forms and contents of learning and expectations to become engaged with the society that funds them” (p. 460).  Community education’s place in formal adult education “can be the forum for adults to “acquire their political knowledge and skills” (p.146)” (Merriam & Brockett, 206). The increased demand for adults in the community to hold certifications and degrees provided by formal education opportunities are often necessary for career advancement, personal development, and impact the decisions made by community members in their everyday lives.  In today’s world it is more important than ever to hold higher education degrees and certificates in order for adult community members to compete in the changing workforce.

The increased emphasis on formal education aside, informal experiences offered in a community of learners have shaped adult lives for all of time.  From the beginning of time individuals have learned survival skills, societal expectations, and built relationships within their communities based on their informal learning experiences. The simple act of walking into a luncheon with other adult individuals is an informal community education experience.  In the past, when formal community education opportunities were not as easily accessible to a majority of adult learners, informal community experiences helped individuals to find their role in a community, make decisions to support themselves and their families, and learn social skills that allowed them to contribute to their community.  In every interaction and action performed throughout the day, adult learners are learning by experiencing.  Nod Miller states that in the past, “A common assumption underlying much of the theory and practice of adult education is that adults learn throughout their lives, from their work and leisure, from their experience in social and domestic contexts, and from their personal relationships” (p. 72).  Although this assumption was made, the importance of informal community education experiences as the first form of education, was neglected, offering very little support to the importance of the informal community learning experiences that shape adults (Miller, 72).

Informal adult education in relationship to adult education is more difficult to measure than the other two education forms but today is argued as having the largest impact on the community as a whole.  Every experience an adult has is educating in some way, and this education in the community setting affects how adults interact, cope, communicate, function, and participate in their community environment.  The change in attitude towards informal education is evident in Miller’s descriptions of “learning from experience” as he cites some of the functions that this informal learning leads too, including how individuals “make decisions about jobs, holidays, or life partners as a result of weighing up and processing elements of their life experiences and behavior” (Miller, 74).  Without these educational experiences, adults would have little basis for many opinions that shape their contribution and relationship to the communities they participate in.

While informal education is the most common form of adult and community education, and formal education is often the most easily identifiable form of community and adult education, nonformal education is the form of community education that people are most likely to explore in a post-secondary development manner.  In the past, many adult learners who completed secondary education relied on nonformal community education for professional advancement, personal growth, and a better understanding of the communities and world they lived in.

Nonformal community education takes a variety of forms.  In the past, nonformal education was for some adults, the only way of receiving marketable skills which would assist them in procuring jobs and participating in the workforce.  Nonformal community education programs offered at churches, agencies, shelters and libraries offered adults the opportunity to learn about their passions, interests, professional skills, religion, etc. These programs all had a functional objective and individuals gained skills and competencies they may not have otherwise learned. In many ways, nonformal community education results in “Communities…[becoming] the site of individual and social learning” (Ewert & Grace, 329).

Today, nonformal community education continues to be the most common form of community and adult education.  Local libraries assist adult community members in learning how to use modern technology, assisting different generations in connecting with each other and local professionals in acquiring the skills needed to perform modern job functions.  Community members of all ages are encouraged to take first aid courses in nonformal workshop settings, resulting in better prepared communities in the face of medical emergency.  Voters are encouraged to attend forums where they can ask questions of candidates and gain more information about their party’s beliefs and objectives. The opportunities presented by these nonformal community education experiences are vastly diversified and are incredibly important in helping adult community members to grow personally, professionally, and also in assisting adult learners in forming opinions and making decisions. These community education opportunities “underlie development practice” and create “dialogue, critique and local ownership of the development process” (Ewert & Grace, 330).  This form of community education “can be the forum for adults to “acquire their political knowledge and skills” (p.146).” (Merriam & Brockett, 206), resulting in communities that are better able to problem solve and make decisions.

Separating adult and community education is nearly and impossible task.  All adult education is community education, and all educational experiences impact the individual’s community, whether in direct action or adult interaction.  The impact of community education then and now has been an integral part in developing strong communities of well rounded, engaged and informed adults better able to be contributing members of the communities they belong too.

 

Work Cited

Ewert, D., & Grace, K. (2000). Chapter Twenty-One: Adult Education for Community Action. In Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 327-343). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kasworm, C., Sandmann, L., & Sissel, P. (2000). Chapter Twenty-Nine: Adult Learners in Higher Education. In Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 449-464). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S., & Brockett, R. (2007). The profession and practice of adult education: An introduction (Updated ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Miller, N. (2000). Chapter Five: Learning from Experience in Adult Education. InHandbook of adult and continuing education (New ed., pp. 71-86). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wilson, A. (2000). Handbook of adult and continuing education (New ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

As originally submitted for credit as part of the Corporate & Community Education program at Elmira College.