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. 

Posted in Fiction, Imagination, Life, Uncategorized

Pinterest Prompt-1-1-17

“She added a charm to her bracelet for every life that she took.”

(Prompt inspiration from Promptuarium on Pinterest)

Today’s charm was a small, white and black spotted circle.  It reminded her of this morning’s charge.

It never got easier.  The look of life leaving the eyes of a soul that had a family.  Had a purpose; had loved and lost and shared and existed.

She stood washing her hands, looking down at the bracelet.  Some times of the year seemed more challenging than others.  This beautiful first week of May, she hadn’t had any others. It was just the one.

The worst part had been the young woman, sobbing as she’d explained the process. Sobbing as she’d put the needle under the skin.  She hadn’t seen anyone cry like that from her services in a while.  It was evident that the young woman wanted to hate her and didn’t want to be here.

She cleaned under her fingernails with a brush as she thought of how the young woman had held the beautiful soul she’d removed from this Earth. How she buried her face in the black and white spotted fur and told her that it would be okay; that she loved her and it wouldn’t hurt anymore.  That in her thirteen years, she’d been the best friend a human could ask for. That she was so sorry, and it wasn’t supposed to be this way but she never wanted her to suffer. That no matter what else happened in her life, she’d remember her, and this moment, for the rest of her life.

The young woman’s parents had brought them here, to the office, to relieve the old dog’s suffering.  Consequently, they left with a young woman whose heart would forever miss her friend, creating a different type of suffering entirely.

The charm was chosen as a reminder for the life she took.  For the power that her services had to relieve suffering.  For the beautiful soul that loved and left.

Posted in #Future, Imagination, Life, Uncategorized

As good a time as any…

Every year at this time, people make resolutions to better their lives.  I do the same thing.  Recently, I have noticed several articles regarding the concept of self-awareness and accepting responsibility for the things in your life that are not the way you’d hoped.

I think there’s really something to this.  Now seems as good a time as any to determine the importance of taking one’s destiny.

My business did okay this year, but I have been dragging my feet about marketing to a broader range of clients.  I know how to do it, and I train other people how to do it, but I haven’t done it.  Why? Because what if I fall on my face, and the people who think I won’t be successful are actually right?

I’ve not applied as seriously for as many, full time, big human resource positions as I could.  Because I am afraid. I am concerned  that if I take a new position, it will take me a long time to be as confident or comfortable as I am now…comfortable is a killer.

Another year has passed and my book isn’t finished.  Not surprising, as I’ve been struggling to focus in.  But also not surprising because I’m afraid of the rejection of publishers.  Pouring my soul into something only to be told it’s not good enough has long been a fear of mine.  Now is as good a time as any to admit that.

2016 is over, and I still haven’t lost thirty pounds.  I always resolve that I will;  but I haven’t.  I still haven’t run a marathon.  I still haven’t gotten my A1C (a test used to measure blood sugar over a period of time) under 7.0.  I’m still waiting to do those things, because what if I try really hard and nothing good happens? What if I get myself into the best physical condition of my life only to find out that it doesn’t matter and the diabetes has done too much damage to live my life the way I want?

The fact is,sometimes not trying is easier than failing.  Sometimes, it seems like by trying you’re really just running on a treadmill-endlessly wearing yourself out.

Even more terrifying: what if they’re wrong? What if I really do all these things?  What if I’m a huge overnight success and I don’t have to struggle and people hate me for it? Who am I to deserve to meet my goals? What if I win?

The fact is, the posts about taking responsibility are hitting home for me this holiday season.  I did accomplish several of my goals, and that should count for something with me.  I was a better friend, a better sibling and daughter and granddaughter this year. I stood up for myself and took pride in my work.  I did, at least, start my foray into working for myself.  I traveled all over the world and the US with my family and the man I love, and I didn’t apologize for taking care of myself.  I took some pride in me, and I saw progress.

But now is as good a time as any to admit that 2017 looks a little daunting, but like a mountain I want to climb.

I accept that I will have to beat me. I have to win against myself, and that means falling on my face.  I know this. I also know I might fail, but at least some of these things must get done this year.  This time I have to win, and that means accepting responsibility for my own sabotage.

Regular updates to follow. Similar resolutions, because I need goals.  Hopeful progress to share.

(P.S. How cute is this picture of us on our recent adventure to New Orleans? We’re in the Garden District here!)

Stay motivated everyone!



Posted in #Future, Uncategorized

Facing the Facts

So I am either excellent at upkeep of my own blog and online presence…

…or I’m the absolute worst at it.

There is ZERO in between.  Unfortunately, I’d like to mention that this is because my brain so often refuses to settle down, follow the list, and do what it is told.  Instead, it tells me that we are out of milk…at 2AM. It then proceeds to tell me we really should have watched that documentary last night…at 2PM, when I’m supposed to be functioning in my day job like a normal adult. Exhausting.

I’ve always struggled a little with follow through and focus.  I’ve been assessed for ADD and ADHD at least five times, all to no avail.  Instead, I’m just super creative and sort of flighty with most of my daily function items.  It comes with the territory, I guess?

So why am I mentioning this now?  Because it looks like I haven’t done anything on here in months.  Several months in fact, and that is not quite the case.  I’ve added pages, taken on new projects and clients, and have even done some new jobs since the last time I actually posted here.

Additionally, I’m trying some new methods of getting organized and focusing. It’s challenging, but I’m making slow and steady progress.  Thus far, I’m seeing some success, and I’m hoping my regular postings on here and the completion of my novel in 2017 will reflect that.

This is also the time of year where a few interesting things happen for me.  One of which is that I generally slip into a really irritating seasonal funk.  It is one that is managed only through travel, creative outlets, and a lot of time at the gym.  Additionally, this is also the time of year where I reflect and focus in.  With the world in a cold, dark state here in New York, it becomes vital to make goals, make plans, and stick to them before we run out of daylight.  There’s so little of it.

Here’s to more conclusive writing on a more regular schedule with better outcomes for my to-do lists in the coming months!




Posted in Uncategorized

It’s Conference Week! 

My FAVORITE annual writing conference is finally here! 
Yesterday, I hopped in the car with a fellow conference attendee and we hit the road. 
Cape Cod is stunning this time of year and this conference is such a great opportunity to meet, greet and be inspired by fellow writers, agents, and public relations experts.  
I am working from the conference this week at my usual day job. A change of scenery can be HUGELY beneficial to solving problems, determining systemic changes, and gaining perspective. I’m hoping my remote location helps me to determine our next education plan for public relations. 
More thoughts on these things later. For now, I’m going to enjoy sunshine and sand while I write…and then send at least twenty more emails. 

Posted in BlogABook, Fiction, Imagination

In the hospital…fiction, rough draft from The Many Men of Maggie James

“I’m okay Dad.  Don’t worry.  Couple days I’ll be back home and feeling fine.” Said Maggie.  She tried to force a small smile, but her mouth and throat hurt badly.

“Okay, Mag.  Okay.  Your mom is on her way and Jack let your brothers know you were here.  It’s gonna be okay.” He turned to Maisey.  “Dr. Kahn will be here soon, right? Do we need to wait for Martha?”

“Martha is Maggie’s mom?”

“Yes, Martha is Maggie’s mom.  My ex-wife.”

“Ideally, yes, we’ll wait. Can I offer either of you gentleman anything?  Maggie, can I get you anything?”

Both Jack and Dad turned to look at her. “Ice water. Please.” Maggie stated.

“Can she have that?” Dad asked.

“Yes, of course.  Water in all forms is good for you.” Maisy said.  “Boys?”

“I’m good for the moment.  Jack?”

“Do you have any coffee?”

Maisy smiled.  “Yes sir.  Why don’t you walk with me and you can make it just the way you like it.”

Jack nodded. “I’ll be right back Mag.  Hang out with Dad.”

Maggie closed her eyes, smiled a little and nodded.  Jack walked out with Maisy.

Dad looked up at her from the foot of her bed.  He reached down and patted her foot held under the yellow blanket.  “What happened Mag? Did you fall?”

Maggie breathed in through her nose and released the breath through her mouth.  When she was a kid, Mom had put her in counseling with a child counselor when she started crying randomly, all the time.  She’d be at school, at home, at soccer practice and would burst into tears.  The thoughts and anxious ideas would race through her mind.  Eventually the counselor figured it out and helped Maggie learn to control the feelings of anxiety through breathing and mantras and self-soothing thought processes.

“I don’t remember falling Dad.  I was trying to get over some things.” Her eyes welled up as she said it.  She was still feeling the dizziness but some of the nauseous was starting to subside. “What day is it?”

Dad looked at her, the concern was clear on his face.  “It’s Thursday, Mag.  What’s the last day you remember?”

“It was Tuesday afternoon.”

He shook his head and looked away.  He didn’t want to see her cry, and didn’t want her to see him cry either. He patted her foot again, “Okay. Rest.”

He walked into the hallway and left her in the room alone.  She started breathing through her nose again.  The dizziness was making her feel like she had motion sickness, but the bed wasn’t sailing.

She could hear Jack chattering away with the nurse and she smiled a little again.  He could talk to anyone.  He wasn’t quite as loquacious as she was, but as she listened to him talk with Maisey as he walked in the room, she was filled with pride and love.  If she’d really died, he would’ve  been okay.