Adult educators play a central role in increasing efficiency and ensuring quality of adult learning provision, not least by sustaining the motivation of adults toward current and further learning. Adult educators with teaching responsibilities need content expertise as well as pedagogical competencies in order to perform their role adequately. At present, however, there are limited opportunities for initial education and pre-service training specifically aimed at those willing to acquire pedagogical competencies prior to entering the profession.
Existing opportunity structures
In Denmark the opportunity structures in the field of adult education include a variety of courses and programs, which are run on a regular base; nonetheless it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between pre-service and in-service opportunities. In fact, existing courses and programs, even when primarily targeted to prospective adult educators, are also open to experienced practitioners in both youth and adult education. Furthermore, existing opportunities, vary substantially in terms of educational provider, content, length, entry criteria and final attestation, thus in the depth of pedagogical competencies they provide. Still only part of the provision is meant to prepare participants in teaching adults.
The situation is different in Sweden where, in spite of a widespread educational provision for adults, initial education and pre-service training for prospective adult educators is practically non existent, with the exception of a program for folk high school teachers.
Not dissimilarly in Estonia the opportunity structures for those wiling to enter the profession of adult educator is limited, especially for prospective teachers of adults. However, contrary to the Nordic counterparts, much attention has been paid in defining the professional standards for adult educators. Since 2007 applicants are required to undertake specific training in the field of adult learning so to complement prior education and training attainments in the subject the teach.
Ongoing research activity
Notwithstanding national characteristics, very little is known on the contribution of existing opportunity structures in sustaining professionalism among prospective adult educators in the Nordic-Baltic region as well as on how adult education policies affect professionalisation processes in the field of adult learning. These are the main foci of an ongoing cross-national research project, granted by the EU Lifelong learning program (Grant No. 142405-LLP-1-2008-1-DK-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) and the Nordplus Framework Program. For more information, please visit www.dpu.dk/babar and www.dpu.dk/baea or contact: Marcella Milana, mami(ät)dpu.dk.
Milana, M. (exp. June 2009). Initial education and training pathways for Danish adult educators. In Journal of Educational Sciences, Vol. 19(1/2009).
Jõgi, L., Gross, M. (exp. June 2009). Professionalisation of Adult Educators in the Baltic States. European Journal of Education, Vol. 44(2).