Główna treść artykułu


This article considers adult learning from a ‘long-life’ perspective. Stepping out of contemporary frames that position adult learning as ‘life-long’ or even ‘life-wide’ enables a discussion of adult learning as an evolutionary informed, ecologically meaningful activity. In taking this approach, the paper shows how adult learning has evolved and been maintained by trouble, indeed how the human condition is under continual existential threat. The paper will draw on writings that discuss the evolutionary origins of adult learning, particularly the paradox that humans are both part of, and separate from, the ‘more-than-human’ world (Abram, 1997). The focus of this paper will be on the experience, conscious or unconscious, of living under the continual threat of annihilation and how this may have provided the motive for adult learning behaviours in both our hominid ancestors and contemporary society.

The paper begins with a discussion to highlight the nature of human life as one that is always under threat by drawing on religious symbolism, poetry and (in the UK at least) an ever-expanding genre of ‘nature writing’. Having explored what it may feel like to live a life where survival is uncertain, the paper then draws on ecological and evolutionary principles to provide a theoretical ‘long-life’ understanding of adult learning. It is admitted at the outset that the route set out here may appear contradictory, even confusing, but the author asks the reader to first enter into an uncomfortable and troubling world, before the author, finally – despite what might sound like a bleak prospect for humanity – provides resources of hope grounded in the paradoxical potential provided by adult learning.

Słowa kluczowe

Long-life learning evolution ecology ecolagogy nature writing the more-than-human .

Szczegóły artykułu

Jak cytować
Bainbridge, A. (2022). Adult learning on the edge of a precipice: an ecology of living and learning. Dyskursy Młodych Andragogów/Adult Education Discourses, (23), 9-24. https://doi.org/10.34768/dma.vi23.648


  1. Abram, D. (1997) The Spell of the Sensuous. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
  2. Abram, D. (2011) Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. New York, NY: Vintage.
  3. Bainbridge, A. (2019) Education then and now: making the case for ecol-agogy. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 27(3), 423-440. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2018.1517130.
  4. Bainbridge, A. (2020) Digging our own grave: A Marxian consideration of formal education as a destructive enterprise. International Review of Education, 66, 737-753. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-020-09866-7.
  5. Bainbridge, A. & Del Negro, G. (2020) An Ecology of Transformative Learning: A Shift from the Ego to the Eco. Journal of Transformative Education, 18(1), 41-58. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1541344619864670.
  6. Baker, J.A. (2015) The Peregrine: The Hill and Summer Diaries. London: Collins.
  7. Ball, S.J. (2015) Living the Neoliberal University. European Journal of Education, 50(3), 258-261. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12132.
  8. Barkham, P. (2021) Richard Mabey: Viruses and man-eating tigers and predatory Asian hornets are all part of nature. Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/mar/27/richard-mabey-viruses-and-man-eating-tigers-and-predatory-asian-hornets-are-allpart-of-nature?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other [27.03.2021].
  9. Berger, P.L. (1967) The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a sociological theory of religion. New York: Anchor Books.
  10. Berger, P.L. & Luckmann, T. (1966) The Social Construction of Reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. London: Penguin.
  11. Berry, T. (1999) The Great Work: Our Way into the Future. New York, NY: Bell Tower.
  12. Biesta, G.J.J. (2013) The Beautiful Risk of Education. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
  13. Biesta, G.J.J. (2015) The Duty to Resist: Redefining the Basics for today’s Schools. Research on Steiner Education, 6 (December), 1-11. Available at: https://www.rosejourn.com/index.php/rose/article/view/265/260 [12.06.2020].
  14. Bonnett, M. (2021) Environmental Consciousness, Nature, and the Philosophy of Education: Ecologizing Education.London: Routledge.
  15. Evans, R., Kurantowicz, E. & Lucio-Villegas E. (2016)Researching and Transforming Adult Learning and Communities: The Local/Global Context. Leiden: Brill Publishers.
  16. FE News Editor. (2021) Skills for Jobs White Paper is launched – Sector Response. Available at: https://www.fenews.co.uk/fevoices/61938-skills-for-jobs-white-paper-is-launchedsector-response [21.01.2021].
  17. Ferlinghetti, L. (1958) A Coney Island of the Mind. New York: New Directions Books.
  18. Formenti, L. & West, L. (2018) Transforming Perspectives in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education: A Dialogue. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  19. Fromm, E. (1949) Man for Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics. London: Routledge.
  20. Fromm, E. (1961) Marx’s Concept of Man. New York, NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing.
  21. Fromm, E. (1968) The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology. New York: Harper & Row.
  22. Fromm, E. (1994) On Being Human(Edited by R. Funk). London: Bloomsbury.
  23. Freud, S. (1914/2001) On Narcissism: An Introduction. In: J. Strachey (ed.)The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud Volume XIV (1914-1916). London: Vintage, 73-102.
  24. Hughes, T. (1970) Hawk Roosting. Available at: https://allpoetry.com/Hawk-Roosting [15.05.2021].
  25. Kendal, J.R. (2011) Cultural niche construction and human learning environments: Investigating sociocultural perspectives. Biological Theory, 6(3), 241-250.
  26. Lewis, C.S. (1949) Transposition and other Addresses. Québec: Samizdat University Press. Available at: http://www.samizdat.qc.ca/arts/lit/PDFs/Transposition_CSL.pdf [12.05.2021].
  27. Macfarlane, R. (2011) Introduction. In: Shepherd, N. The Living Mountain. Edinburgh: Canongate Books.
  28. Matlock, G., Lydon, J., Cook, C. & Jones, S. (1977) God Save the Queen. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Virgin Records.
  29. Sharp, H. (1988) The Transformation of Bigfoot: Madness, Power, and Belief among the Chipewyan. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  30. Tomasello, M. (2014) A Natural History of Human Thinking. London: Harvard University Press.
  31. Watts, T. (2021) An Exploration of The Influential Relations Between Young Children, Adults and Natural Environments. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Canterbury Christ Church University.