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November 09 , 2009

Gender, Experience, and Knowledge in Adult Learning

Alisoun’s Daughters


In this wide-ranging book, Elana Michelson invites us to revisit basic understandings of the `experiential learner’. How does experience come to be seen as the basis of knowledge? How do gender, class, and race enter into the ways in which knowledge is valued? What political and cultural belief systems underlie such practices as the assessment of prior learning and the writing of life narratives?

Drawing on a range of disciplines, from feminist theory and the politics of knowledge to literary criticism, Michelson argues that particular understandings of `experiential learning’ have been central to modern Western cultures and the power relationships that underlie them. Presented in four parts, this challenging and lively book asks educators of adults to think in new ways about their assumptions, theories, and practices:

  • Part I provides readers with a short history of the notion of experiential learning.
  • Part II brings the insights and concerns of feminist theory to bear on mainstream theories of experiential learning.
  • Part III examines the assessment of prior experiential learning for academic credit and/or professional credentials.
  • Part IV addresses a second pedagogical practice that is ubiquitous in adult learning, namely, the assigning of life narratives.

Gender, Experience, and Knowledge in Adult Learning will be of value to scholars and graduate students exploring adult and experiential learning, as well as academics wishing to introduce students to a broad range of feminist, critical-race, materialist and postmodernist thinking in the field.

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