Building on Critical Traditions - Adult Education and Learning in Canada

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Building on Critical Traditions

Adult Education and Learning in Canada

By: Tom Nesbit, Susan M. Brigham, Nancy Taber, & Tara Gibb (Editors)

The thirty or so chapters in this book provide a comprehensive snapshot of the range, variety, and vitality of Canadian adult education today. They detail the vast range of settings, situations, approaches, practices, activities, and perspectives of Canada’s adult educators, wherever their interests may lie.

ISBN 978-1-55077-229-6
Edition First
Year 2013
Page Count 376

$ 39.95


In recent decades, federal and provincial governments’ neo-liberal policies have entailed greater austerity, privatization, and deregulation. They have dramatically weakened Canada’s social services, literacy, and post-secondary education programs and privatized vocational education. Yet Canada’s adult educators have remained steadfast.

Building on Critical Traditions: Adult Education and Learning in Canada is an important contribution to that cause. Adult educators have advanced identity, difference, and diversity through a desire to promote the interests and concerns of underprivileged sectors of Canadian society.


  • Within each section, each chapter focuses on a different topic and adopts a unique perspective.
  • All that was asked of the contributors was that they approach their topic in a way that provides a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of its development and then explores its current trends and issues.
  • In a final chapter, the editors provide summary commentary on each section, and hazard some thoughts about the future development and continuing imperative of Canadian adult education.

Table of Contents


  • 1. Canadian Adult Education: A Critical Tradition Tom Nesbit
Section 1
  • 2. A Bird’s Eye View of Canadian Adult Education History Michael Welton
  • 3. The Tapestry of Adult Education Research in Canada Janet Groen and Colleen Kawalilak
  • The Zone of Canadian Aboriginal Adult Education: A Social Movement Approach Marlene Atleo
  • 5. Adult Education and Training in Francophone Canada Claudie Solar and Marie Thériault
  • 6. Gender and Literacy in Historical Perspective: A Newfoundland Case Study Leona M. English
  • 7. Gay Rights as Human and Civil Rights: Matters of Degree in Culture, Society, and Adult Education André P. Grace
  • 8. Learning From Landmarks: To Re-shape Adult Literacy Policy in the Twenty-First Century B. Allan Quigley
Section 2: Theoretical Perspectives
  • 9. Adult Learning Theory Patricia Cranton
  • 10. Interrogating Transformative Learning: Canadian Contributions Elizabeth A. Lange
  • 11. Theorizing Race in Adult Education: Critical Race Theory Susan M. Brigham
  • 12. Class and Poverty Matters: The Role of Adult Education in Reproduction and Resistance Shauna Butterwick
  • 13. Learning War Through Gender: Masculinities, Femininities, and Militarism Nancy Tabert
  • 14. Adult Education as a Realist Emancipatory Practice Donovan Plumb
  • 15. What is “Critical” About Critical Adult Education? Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab
Section 3: Learning in Communities
  • 16. Adult Education for Health and Wellness Maureen Coady
  • 17. Adult Education and the Environment Pierre Walter
  • 18. Adult Education and Food: Eating as Praxis Jennifer Sumner
  • 19. The Art of Adult Learning and Community Cultural Development in Canada Behrang Foroughi and Christine Durant
  • 20. Spaces of Community Development and Adult Learning Within Diverse Urban Settings Nancy Tabert
Section 4: Literacy, Economy, and Work
  • 21. Work and Learning: Perspectives from Canadian Adult Educators Tara Fenwick
  • 22. Adult Education Policies in Canada: Skills Without Humanity Maren Elfert and Kjell Rubenson
  • 23. Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities: A Look at the Issues Facing the Field Maurice Taylor and Meagan Roberts
  • 24. Knowledge Economy Discourses and Adult Education in Canada: A Policy Analysis Tara Gibb and Judith Walker
  • 25. Equip, Engage, Expand, and Energize: Labour Movement Education Sue Carter and D’Arcy Martin
Section 5: Extending University Learning
  • 26. University Continuing Education for Adult Learners: History and Key Trends Scott McLean and Lorraine Carter
  • 27. Recognizing Prior Learning (RPL) Within Adult Education: Issues and Practice in Canadian Universities Dianne Conrad
  • 28. Education Without a Distance: Networked Learning Paul Bouchard
Section 6: Immigration and Internationalization
  • 29. Citizenship, Immigration, and Lifelong Learning: Toward Recognitive Justice Shibao Guo
  • 30. English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs for Adult Immigrants in Canada: Critical Issues and Perspectives Yan Guo
  • 31. Canadian Community Development Organizations, Adult Education, and the Internationalization of a Pedagogical Practice Robert C. Mizzi and Zane E. Hamm
  • 32. The Continuing Imperative of Canadian Adult Education and Learning The Editors

About the Authors

Tom Nesbit

Tom Nesbit has recently retired from Simon Fraser University where he was Director of the Centre for Integrated & Credit Studies and Associate Dean of Lifelong Learning. A former bus-driver and trade union official, his academic interests have included labour studies, numeracy, social class, university continuing education, and workers’ education.

Susan M. Brigham
Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University

Susan M. Brigham is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. She is Chair of the Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice. Her research interests include adult education, life-long learning, teacher education, and female migration. Her current research with refugees involves participatory photography.

Nancy Taber
Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University

Nancy Taber is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University. Her research interests include learning war, militarism, and gender in daily life; women’s experiences in western militaries; interconnections between military and academic gendered norms; and, sociocultural issues in fiction and popular culture.

Tara Gibb, PhD
Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, Instructor at Athabasca University

Tara Gibb has a PhD from the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia and is an instructor at Athabasca University. Her research interests include adult education policy, issues of migration, and language learning in the workplace.