chapter  6
22 Pages

Education for adults

INTRODUCTION There is no single point, in a modern industrialized society, at which a person suddenly and unambiguously becomes an adult. In the United Kingdom it is a process which is often thought to begin at the age of 16 with the termination of compulsory pupil status, and to be complete by the age of 21, with the attainment of full adult rights, roles, and responsibilities. In between, there are many important markers, such as the right to vote, drink, or marry without one's parents' consent; and of course the social and psychological processes of maturation may vary greatly from one individual to another. In educational terms, the definition of 'adult' tends to come later rather than earlier, primarily because there is already distinct provision for 16-to 19-year-olds and for some 18-to 21year-olds in higher education. Adult education therefore is often thought to begin where these end, and is sometimes referred to as 'post-initial' for that reason. Some institutions even use the age 25 to distinguish between ordinary and 'mature' students; whereas others are more concerned with the number of years spent outside the educational system. By contrast, some regulations specify only post-compulsory (16) and post-secondary (18) status. It is clear that definitions of 'adult' in adult education, are not and cannot be clear.