Adult education in Germany : roots, status, mainstreams, changes
- With its many traditions, roots, and facets, adult education in Germany is in a developmental stage marked by variety - various institutions, programs, aims and ideas, parallel developments and competition. Adult education providers show little cooperation and coordination among themselves. They are often unaware of other providers that comprise the full scope of the field. Some of the developments can only be understood in the context of German culture, history, and economy. Two central arguments are given in comparative adult education to explain the value of trying to understand adult education practices in other countries (Reischmann, Bron, Jelenc, 1999). On a practical level, “borrowing” is expected to help us adapt successful foreign practices and integrate them into our own practical work - and avoid mistakes and “reinventing the wheel”. On a theoretical level, the international-comparative perspective can help us to overcome ethnocentric blindness, helping us, irritated by observations in a foreign context, to better perceive and understand our own field and system. Certainly cultural differences limit the transfer from one country to another. Comparative research, by helping to understand the differences and similarities as well as their significance for adult education, can clarify the possibilities and limits of understanding and borrowing. Both are indispensable in a world where in many countries experiences in the various fields of adult education are gained and needed.