Experience in Adult Education: a post-modern critique


Correspondence: Robin Usher, School of Education, University of Southampton, Southampton SO9 5NH, UK.


ABSTRACT The concepts of experience and experiential learning are of critical significance in both the study and practice of adult education. Adults are seen as uniquely characterised by their experience, experiential learning an alternative to didactic and knowledge-based modes of education. In this paper a critique is presented of the powerful discourse of the autonomous subject based on humanistic psychology which, it is argued, has shaped adult education in a misleading, inappropriate and unhelpful way. A postmodern perspective drawing on Continental philosophy is utilised. The ‘situated’ subject provides a conception of subjectivity and experience which preserves a needed dimension of agency whilst avoiding psychologism and individualism.