EAEA theme of the year 2022: Transformative Learning and Values

With 2022 still dealing with the consequences of Covid and thus overcoming limitations and cutbacks to our daily lives, EAEA is dedicating 2022 to the theme of “Transformative Learning and Values”.

EAEA is convinced that adult learning and education should be shaped to respond to the challenges we are facing in the 21st century. We need an approach to learning and education that is based on the principles of openness, social inclusion, and social justice. Transformative learning approach responds to these needs. 

Transformative learning is linked to critical thinking and social analysis, in which people are re-examining their values and beliefs. However, we must consider differences of education and learning in general and therefore in understanding transformative learning. Referring to Jack Mezirow, we understand learning processes as a contribution to further critical thinking. However, if we entertain Paulo Freire’s ideas, we are looking at a more engaged model with action taken to change one’s social reality.

Even in Europe alone we can find many different understandings of transformative learning. As established during one EPALE live discussion on transformative learning, the common denominator is that transformative learning aims to trigger fundamental change and assist people to better understand themselves, others, and different cultures, ideally leading away from a individualistic and egocentric viewpoint.

Using a global challenge for positive change

EAEA wants to use today‘s global challenges to support a paradigm shift in our understanding of learning as well as each person’s role in society. Education that solely focuses on employability and economic issues fails to provide us with the tools we need to tackle global challenges and invigorate active citizenship and personal empowerment.

The current European approach to learning and education focuses too heavily on people as “human capital” for the labour market. EAEA is convinced that through collecting and analysing best practises, developing, and testing a well-developed approach to transformative learning, we can provide practical tools for an innovative European adult education.

Transformative learning can be a tool for Europeans not only to learn, acquire new skills and become more resilient but also better reflect on their assumptions on our society and themselves. In the long run, this will not only support people to better understand the world they are living in but also empower them to become better advocates for themselves and causes they believe in.

Lastly, with choosing transformative learning and values to be our annual theme, EAEA wants to draw a connection between transformative learning and twin transition. Throughout the year, EAEA will look into how adult learning and education can support adults in becoming active digital citizens and in addressing the climate crisis. We will also explore what values adult learning and education can foster to ensure that the rapid changes that Europe is facing do not leave anyone behind.

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