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The History of the Democratic Adult Education Movement in Spain


by Esther Oliver, Itxaso Tellado, Montserrat Yuste & Rosa Larena-Fernández — 2016

Background/Context: Traditional adult education in Spain treated the learner as a mere object that could be shaped by the educator. Although current practices of the democratic adult education movement in Spain reveals a completely opposite standpoint on adult education, there has been little analysis of the several influences converging and complementing one another to form the historical antecedents for the creation of the democratic adult education movement that emerged in the turn of the century, in 2000, in Spain.

Purpose: This article aims to study the origins of the democratic adult education movement in Spain by examining (1) the historical educational experiences in Spain, particularly before the dictatorship period and (2) the influences of some social and educational theories.

Research Design: Using historical analysis and literature analysis, this article is focused on the history of adult education in Spain, and, more particularly, it presents an exhaustive document analysis based on historical aspects associated with the formation of the democratic adult education movement.

Findings/Results: The findings suggest that the shaping of the democratic adult education movement in Spain has been influenced by three main strands: the Spanish libertarian movement of the early 20th century, Paulo Freire’s work and insights on adult education, and other social and educational theories from contemporary authors who conceive education as a tool for overcoming inequalities. In the present article, we show the influence of these strands on the DAE by identifying three main characteristics underpinning the movement, that is, the participants’ self-organization and management based on egalitarian dialogue, the recognition of the universal capability of communication and knowledge creation, and the access to higher culture by the working-class people.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This article concludes that many of the educational practices developed under the democratic adult education movement are radically democratic given that it promotes providing working-class people with have access to higher culture at the same time that they build up solidarity ties with the most disadvantaged. The present research shows how the DAE movement and all its components open up new lessons for successful inclusion practices in adult education and its effects on the promotion of social transformations at the local, national, and international levels.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 4, 2016, p. 1-31
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19363, Date Accessed: 8/17/2017 1:23:09 PM

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About the Author
  • Esther Oliver
    University of Barcelona
    E-mail Author
    ESTHER OLIVER is a professor in the Sociological Theory Department at the University of Barcelona. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology, and she was Visiting Fellow at the University of Warwick (2006–2008). Her main research interests are social and educational inequalities, focusing on gender inequalities and ways to overcome them, and contributing to social change. Relevant publications: Oliver, E. (2014). Zero violence since early childhood: The dialogic recreation of knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 902–908; and Oliver, E., Soler, M.,, & Flecha, R. (2009) Opening schools to all (women): Efforts to overcome gender violence in Spain. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 30(2), 207–218.
  • Itxaso Tellado
    University of Vic
    E-mail Author
    ITXASO TELLADO is an associate professor at the University of Vic-Central University of Catalonia. She serves as the director of the Pedagogy Department and has served as the director of the UNESCO Chair Women, development and cultures at the same university. She holds a doctorate in adult and higher education from Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include educational inequalities, cultural groups, gender studies, and adult education. Her publications appear in Qualitative Inquiry and Journal of Psychodidactics. A recent publication is Flecha, R., & Tellado, I. (2015). Communicative methodology in adult education. Cadernos CEDES, 35(96), 277–288. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/CC0101-32622015723765
  • Montserrat Yuste
    Autonomous University of Barcelona
    E-mail Author
    MONTSERRAT YUSTE is a predoctoral fellowship researcher in the Department of Social Science Education at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, member of Research Group in Didactics of Social Sciences (GREDICS-UAB, http://www.gredics.org/) and Community of Researchers on Excellence for All (CREA, http://crea.ub.edu/index/). Her research interests focus on social science education, learning sciences, and gender studies of at-risk collectives. Recent publications are an article in Qualitative Inquiry (doi:10.1177/1077800414537206) and Sánchez, M., Yuste, M., de Botton, L., & Kostic, R. (2013). Communicative methodology of research with minority groups: The Roma women's movement. International Review of Qualitative Research, 6(2), 226–238. doi:10.1525/irqr.2013.6.2.226
  • Rosa Larena-Fernández
    University of Valladolid
    E-mail Author
    ROSA LARENA FERNÁNDEZ is a professor in the Department of Pedagogy at the University of Valladolid. Her research lines are successful educational actions, cohesion and social inclusion, and adult education. She has participated in several international research projects and has published in impact journals. Her most recent publication is: Redondo-Sama, G., Pulido-Rodriguez, M. A., & Larena, R. (2014). Not without them: The inclusion of minors' voices on cyber harassment prevention. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 895–901.
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