This interdisciplinary paper is about applying Adult Education methods of learning and teaching to higher education. I argue that higher education students need to be stimulated via interactive methods that improve their motivation and lead them to question the value system/s that exist around them. A Freirean approach as used in the teaching of Adult Literacy and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) was applied to a group of 'elite' students at the University of Birmingham who were taking a language foundation course. As a sociolinguist and ESOL practitioner from a black perspective, I argue that the understanding of concepts of language and racism, imperialism and social class can best be facilitated using such an approach. Taking groups of students through this learning journey is challenging for higher education practitioners and the results add a relatively new dimension to the collective reflection on learning and teaching in higher education today.
A Protestant Perspective
First, I want to say thank you for the invitation to speak here to you on the ‘holy mountain’ from a Protestant perspective. With me, you get a reverend from the Protestant church in Rhineland. I live with my bicultural family in Cologne and I work for the section on theology, ecumenics and interreligious dialogue at the Melanchthon Academy, the place for Protestant adult education in Cologne. For a long time it has been a place for Christian-Jewish and Christian-Muslim dialogue, and sometimes we succeed to talk as all three together. For example at the evangelischen Kirchentag in Cologne we organised an Abraham center and we signed the Cologne Peace Declaration, signed by representatives from synagogues, mosques and the churches.
A Critical Perspective
If social science were a sport, Norbert Elias (1897-1990) would receive the award for comeback of the century. He was undistinguished during much of his career: an interminable graduate student in Weimar Germany; a disregarded refugee in Paris in 1933-1935; a prisoner in a British camp for aliens in 1940; an adjunct in adult-education centers during the immediate postwar years in London; a prey to writer’s block with no publications in the 1940s and only a few articles in the 1950s and 1960s. Elias finally got a full-time teaching job at Leicester University in 1954. The extent of his obscurity is evident from an incident at the meeting of the International Sociological Association in 1956. When a Dutch sociologist, Johan Goudsblom, asked to be introduced to him, Elias was astonished: It was the first time anyone had made such a request. In fact, it was the first time Elias had met anyone outside of his personal circle who had read The Civilizing Process.