Transformative learning challenges in a context of trauma and fear: an educator’s story

Author: Vaughn M. John

University of KwaZulu-Natal

Edition: Volume 56, Number 2, July 2016

Summary: After more than three decades of development, transformative learning theory is currently a major theory of adult learning. It has also attracted substantial critique, leading to further development, application and differentiation. Recent contributions to this vast scholarship show a quest for a more unified theory.
This article examines transformative learning theory via a case study of an adult education project in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Drawing on life and pedagogical experiences of an educator, it focusses on aspects of the theory subjected to critique and raises questions about attempts to foster transformative learning in oppressive contexts involving trauma and fear. The article calls for greater attention to the life and experiences of the educator in the learning process while responding to calls for theoretical examination in more diverse contexts. It thus illustrates how more varied, situated accounts of transformative learning attempts may challenge and improve our understandings of adult learning encounters.

Keywords: Transformative learning theory, educator life experiences, adult education, KwaZulu-Natal

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 56_2. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.OnTrack to university: understanding mechanisms of student retention in an Australian pre-university enabling program

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