Subscribe Today
Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

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.

In late-19th-entury Spain, popular educational initiatives appeared that involved the working class and that were promoted by the reformist bourgeoisie and the proposals of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza [Free Institution of Education] (ILE). This institution, created by Giner de los Ríos in 1876, gathered together the scientists, writers, and artists who influenced the intellectual atmosphere of the time to extend higher culture to all segments of society. Influenced by the ILE and with assistance from the government of the Second Republic (19311936), the Misiones Pedagógicas [Educational Missions] were promoted. Through these educational missions, several hundred people from the world of culture and education and well-informed university students promoted general culture, civic education, and a nonhierarchical society that differed markedly from what was taught at the academy. Their intention was not to indoctrinate but to make culture and the ongoing technological development available to the rural population for their enjoyment (Otero-Urtaza, 2011).

These events coexisted with other movements for the democratization of access to culture that were taking place elsewhere in the world. One such example is the popular schools of the Workers Educational Association founded in 1903 in England, which educated adult workers and gave them a voice in the educational system and promoted their requests for the right to be organized (Shearman, 1944). Another example is the Highlander Center in the United States, which was founded in 1932; the aim of its founder, Myles Horton, was to train leaders and union organizers who fought against racial segregation and promoted the values of indigenous peoples (Bell, Gaventa, & Peters, 1990), and it is currently focused on democratic action, community organizing, and supporting community projects (Kennedy, 1981; Lewis, 2001; Roberson, 2002).

Meanwhile, in Spain, the anarchist labor movement or libertarian movement1 was not connected to religious or liberal educational initiatives. These liberal projects were rejected because they were promoted by and for the privileged segments of society and because the projects did not address the needs and demands of the general populace (Boyd, 1976). The anarchist movement promoted adult education at the margins of official educational activities and served the need to self-organize in terms of both labor and cultural advancement. The movement understood, above all, that education is an indispensable tool to achieve social emancipation and that this liberation must be achieved from within (Madero Cabib & Madero Cabib, 2013; Navarro, 2003; Villacorta Baños, 2003). At the beginning of the 20th century in Spain, diverse alternatives appeared, such as the ateneos for the meeting of workers needs in place of the liberal and religious institutions of the time (Flecha, López, & Saco, 1988; Groves, 2011; Tavera, 2012). Thus, the libertarian movement developed self-education initiatives, creating specific institutions and organizations with a profound democratic character in terms of their organizational and management styles (Flecha et al., 1988; Navarro, 2003). Examples include the sessions for adult education organized by Ferrer i Guardia in his Modern School, and the cultural and educational activities for adults organized in the ateneos by the CNT, Juventudes Libertarias [Libertarian Youth], and the groups of Mujeres Libres [Free Women] (Tiana, 1996).

The educational aspects of the libertarian movement that were active from the beginning of the 20th century until the first years of the Civil War (19361939) disappeared during the Franco dictatorship (19391975), although they tried to survive despite the many difficulties during this period (Villacorta Baños, 2003). Pedagogic movements (such as the Free Institution of Education) and intellectuals such as Garcia Lorca were destroyed by Franco's dictatorship and replaced by other organizations closely connected to the regime, such as the Spanish Pedagogy Society, founded in 1949. Adult education during the Franco dictatorship treated adults as children. The pedagogical model of adult education fit the banking approach to education described by Freire (1970), in which the adult learners are simple recipients of content without the capacity to create knowledge or engage in critical thinking and are at the mercy of a unique guide, the teacher, who holds the knowledge that needs to be acquired by the students.

Since 1975, with the arrival of democracy in Spain, there again have been initiatives with a critical and transformative perspective. These initiatives were created to lead to organizations of adult education based on the ideology of the libertarian movement. In this article, we argue that this libertarian legacy converged with the theoretical and practical contributions of the literacy movement initiated by Paulo Freire, which was characterized by the promotion of associations and emancipatory self-management projects (Freire, 1970).

The 1980s and 1990s were decades of important cultural and educational change in Spain partly because adult education experienced unprecedented growth. There were also problems, however. Not everyone understood adult education (AE) in the same way or as being based on the same principles. There were those who promoted the democratization of AE and assigning the central role to the learners, whereas others wished to maintain the centrality of educators without promoting the initiatives of learners (Giner, 2011). In 2000, the democratic adult education (DAE) movement was created as a result of diverse influences, as will be later presented. This movement is one in which these educational experiences are organized and aligned with the theoretical proposals of internationally recognized social science theoreticians, such as Habermas (1989), Beck (1998), Flecha (2000), Puigvert (2014), Freire (1970, 1976, 1997), Giroux (1988), and Macedo (1994).

The DAE movement was started by organizations, associations, and collectives that supported participation in AE in which individuals lacking university qualifications and who do not earn money by their involvement in AE (FACEPA, 1999a) become the main decision makers regarding educational projects. DAE implements successful educational actions2 that yield academic results and contribute to the personal transformation of individuals who participate in AE and to the social transformation of their environment (Elboj, 2014; Flecha & Soler, 2013). Its decision-making role in the direction of AE in Spain was consolidated during the first decade of the 21st century. Currently, DAE is experiencing success with the literacy congresses of participants and dialogic literary and musical gatherings.

This article sheds light on the history of Spanish adult education, particularly on the origins of the DAE movement, something that has not been studied and documented before. By the means of a thorough analysis of the evidence on adult education over time, we provide a comprehensive understanding of the reasons why contemporary democratic adult education is the way it is currently. This article reveals unprecedented connections between social and educational theories and historical educational actions and the current practices with regard to prior knowledge as demonstrated by the specific examples, including the centrality of adult learners in decision-making, becoming the protagonists of the educational process, and becoming active subjects who, through discourse, are able to transform their realities, or promoting the access of the most disadvantaged to education of quality.

In the following sections, the methods used to conduct the literature analysis are first presented. Second, an analysis of the contributions of the libertarian movement to popular education in Spain is presented. Third, the main contributions of Paulo Freire are analyzed. The fourth section explains the contributions of the educational and social theories. Fifth, there is an analysis of the DAE movement describing its initial steps, self-organization, creation, and two of the actions of the DAE movement that explain the social transformations that the DAE promoted in Spain, which led to the movements influence on schools of AE in various countries worldwide. The conclusions section argues the implications of the study and encourages further study from the lessons learned on the development of the DAE.


In this study, a literature analysis was conducted that involved (1) the historical educational experiences in adult education in Spain, (2) the ways in which educational and social theories influenced this movement, and (3) the historical and current documentation of the organizations that constitute the DAE movement.

Three electronic databases were reviewed: Web of Science, Scopus, and ERIC. Priority was assigned to published articles indexed in the Journal Citation Report (JCR) regarding popular education in Spain, adult education and democracy, and educational aspects of the libertarian movement in Spain. In addition, the main works of Freire and books on social and educational theories influencing adult education were analyzed.

Nonscientific articles and gray literature regarding the DAE movement were also reviewed. Specifically, these were articles in the Revista Papers dEducació [Journal Papers of Education] published by AEPA (Association of Adult Education); reports of the projects3 funded by the European Commission that were coordinated by or involved the participation of the Federation of Cultural and Educational Associations in Adult Education (FACEPA) and the Confederation of Adult Education Participants Associations on Democratic Culture and Education (CONFAPEA); the annual reports of activities, evaluation reports, association meeting minutes, articles in nonspecialized journals, and conclusions of the literacy congresses of participants (Sant Boi 1999, Centelles 2000, Vitoria-Gazteiz 2001, Vigo 2002, Fuentevaqueros 2003, Valladolid 2004, Almería 2005, Barcelona 2006, Badajoz 2008, and Barcelona 2011); the dialogic literary and musical gatherings congresses (Barcelona 2000 and 2001, Madrid 2003, Vitoria-Gasteiz 2006, Sevilla 2008, Barcelona 2013); the Trijornadas [Three-day Conference] on democratic adult education (Barcelona 2000, Bilbao 2003, Madrid 2006, and Madrid 2010); and documents describing the organization, functioning, and principles of DAE, such as the Participants Bill of Rights, the Ethical Code of the DAE, and the bylaws of FACEPA and CONFAPEA.


In Spain, the anarchist movement and the proposals of Bakunin and members of the workers movements had key roles in the promotion of popular education because they made education the central axis of worker emancipation. These anarchist ideas entered Spain by the end of the 19th century through the representatives of the Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores4 [International Workers Association] (AIT), pursuing thus that working-class struggle and social transformation must transcend national borders (Guérin, 1970). Hence, the anarchist ideas were rapidly consolidated and had a greater impact on the existing workers movement than other political trends and were readily included because they had been previously put into practice (Dolgoff, 1990; Tavera, 2012).

In 1910, the Confederación Nacional de Trabajadores5 [National Confederation of Labor] (CNT) developed a widespread training program based on a participatory organizational structure and for the purpose of achieving a nonhierarchical model of society (Ackelsberg, 1988). These anarchist proposals became deeply ingrained in the Spanish worker population. This success in Spain occurred because the approaches were based on existing practices in Spain and were communitarian in nature, such that everyone could participate, cooperate, and control events that were shaping their lives (Casanova, 2005; Ovejero, 2010).

The libertarian movement receded from 1923 to 1930, during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, but continued to act in secrecy (González Pérez, 2013). Later, however, during the Second Republic, with a progressive government that began in 1931, the libertarian movement became stronger, and CNT became the largest union. However, on July 18, 1936, several Army generals led a coup détat and overthrew the democratic government. A three-year civil war began between those who defended the democratic government of the Second Republic and those who supported the military leaders of the coup détat. The day after the coup, the workers movement in the main cities took to the streets, primarily motivated by the CNT, to defend democracy. In the main cities, the workers took control of certain sectors of industry and business. This event is known as the Spanish Social Revolution (Preston, 2001).

For the libertarian movement, education was one of the fundamental factors for social transformation. Therefore, ateneos and rationalists schools were created in each neighborhood and town. A cultural and educational movement self-organized by the same workers was created in which access to higher culture was afforded to the working class and peasants (Ackelsberg, 1988; García & Ruiz, 2012). The ateneos and schools of the libertarian movement had a cohesive effect on the communities in which they were situated (García & Ruiz, 2012). Because of these initiatives, opportunities to learn to read and write were created for those who had not attended school, which had an impact on the development of critical thinking, on the collective, and on taking on responsibilities (Ackelsberg, 1988).


Thus, in the cultural field, workers foresaw the importance of self-organization and the need to liberate themselves (Flecha et al., 1988). In this sense, the communities themselves decided the most appropriate form of education for achieving this development and liberation. The education that was promoted highlighted the central role of the participants, particularly the most disadvantaged groups, to become aware of their capabilities and become active agents in their own personal and social transformation for an egalitarian society (Ackelsberg, 1988; Suissa, 2004). The empowerment given to the people through their self-developed training and education gave people the ability to plan quickly and effectively in new situations (Ackelsberg, 1988).

García and Ruiz (2012) and Flecha et al. (1988) indicated that the general population was mobilizing to participate in assemblies and publish journals through awareness-raising campaigns of reading and creating at the margins of the State. In this context, people discussed their experiences and environments and had the opportunity to learn from one another through cooperation (Ackelsberg, 1988).

The literacy classes that were developed were taught by those who had just learned to read and write (García & Ruiz, 2012). The learning environments included libraries, and the activities comprised lectures on various themes and the organization of literary circles. In these gatherings, opinions and reflections on the reading of classics in various branches of knowledge were shared to deepen access to such knowledge, and individuals commented on whether and how this type of learning and the readings helped them to become literate and learn (Ackelsberg, 1988).

It is noteworthy that the influence of the libertarian movement on popular education in Spain was one of enhancing a comprehensive and emancipatory education rather than indoctrination (Suissa, 2001). In other words, the learning activities were based on the voices, interests, and needs of the participants and focused on the social transformation of those most in need and their attainment of higher levels of freedom and solidarity free of any brainwashing (García & Ruiz, 2012).

Finally, the civil war ended with the victory of the military, starting a period of intense repression and persecution of those political, social, or cultural initiatives that began before the dictatorial regime (Preston, 2012). An education system based on national Catholicism was introduced (Del Pozo Andrés & Braster, 2006). Under national Catholicism, a movement created by the military regime in collaboration with the Spanish Catholic church, all education conformed to the doctrines of the church, and the highest values were assigned to these doctrines and the homeland (Gervilla Castillo, 2006). Education under the Franco dictatorship eliminated coeducation, secularism, and the teaching of different national languages. Only Spanish was taught, textbooks were censored, and the regime imposed its political and ideological hegemony (Flecha et al., 1988). During this dictatorial regime, educational contributions that had gained international recognition, such as the New School,6 the libertarian ateneos, and the Modern School of Ferrer i Guàrdia,7 were rejected, silenced, or assigned new interpretations consistent with the values of the regime (Del Pozo Andrés & Braster, 2006).

According to Flecha et al. (1988), the adult education implemented at this time consisted of (a) eradicating illiteracy, which was regarded as a social evil, with the intention of concealing certain appearances and obtaining good statistical results, (b) compensating for deficits and imposing the ideology of the regime, (c) ignoring the psychology of adults, and (d) training women for domestic life and to be subordinate to men.

With the establishment of this dictatorial regime in Spain, all the emancipatory and libertarian educational initiatives and practices disappeared, but not their ideals, which were maintained clandestinely and in exile (Marques Sureda & Martín Frechilla, 2002; Villacorta Baños, 2003). In this sense, alternative adult education in Spain was directly connected with the popular education movements that were historically and politically ingrained in the resistance to the dictatorship (López-Núñez & Lorenzo-Martín, 2009). With the end of the dictatorship in 1975 and the transition to democracy, educational initiatives reappeared to recover the traditions of the libertarian movement (Flecha, 2011).


Paulo Freire was an educator who contributed to the philosophy of education with his educational experiences and theoretical proposals. His first contributions were based on his work with illiterate peasants in Brazil and Chile during the 1950s and 1960s. Starting in the early 1970s, his international influence grew, and he began to be considered a fundamental theorist in critical pedagogy. His theoretical contributions promoted the fight against marginalization. Freire considered education to be a key element for social transformation (Freire, 1970).

His most internationally known work is Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), in which he criticized the banking model of education and presented a proposal to elaborate and discover libertarian pedagogy based on problem solving. Freires contributions reached Spain in the early 1970s by way of Latin American Spanish editions of Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This and other works of Freire, such as Education, the Practice of Freedom (1976), first published in Spain in 1976, inspired many groups of teachers who were trying to organize to develop pedagogical innovations against the static educational proposals inherited from the Franco regime.

Freire promoted the search for a hopeful and scientific education with the purpose of transforming the situations of exclusion of the most disadvantaged. The educational task that he proposed is one of collaboration between educators and participants through dialogue, including the development of literacy, so that actions and reflection can replace the traditional teaching method (based on the banking model of education) with the goal of a fair, inclusive, and liberating future.

The theoretical proposals of Freire infused various principles of adult education that would influence later democratic movements in education: dialogue, equality between educator and participant, the primary role and creative capacity of the participants, and the search for social transformation and solidarity among the most oppressed.

Freire (1970) replaced the banking approach to education, in which the teacher is the expert who fills the heads of the participants with information and attempts to compensate for their deficits, with a problem-based education founded on communication. Freire proposed a liberating pedagogy in which the learner and the participant work together as equals. He thus emphasized the role of the participants, stressing that the teacher should not supplant the voices of the participants. Freire (1998) argued from the point of view of the teachers that

If in fact the dream that inspires us is democratic and grounded in solidarity, it will not be by talking to others from on high as if we were inventors of the truth that we will learn to speak with them. Only the person who listens patiently and critically is able to speak with the other, even if at times it should be necessary to speak to him or her. Even when, of necessity, she/he must speak against ideas and convictions of the other person, it is still possible to speak as if the other were a subject who is being invited to listen critically and not an object submerged by an avalanche of unfeeling, abstract words. (p. 90)

In this context, in which there is a claim of equality between educators and participants by means of dialogue, the participant is recognized as an agent capable of creating knowledge. Dialogue allows for the sharing of knowledge and attainment of a level of higher objectivity because the knowledge of how learning occurs or how to participate in learning is developed among all the participants in the process. Freire (1998) indicated that to teach is not to transfer knowledge, but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge (p. 10).

Freire recognized the capabilities of participants in developing educational programs, affording them, for example, the central role in public forums and in managing cultural and educational projects with the aim of promoting social inclusion. He therefore recognized the creative capabilities of individuals who are learning and valued their knowledge and abilities. In that sense, Freire (1998) argued, There is, in fact, no teaching without learning. One requires the other. And the subject of each, despite their obvious differences, cannot be educated to the status of object. Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning (p. 31).

Social transformation is a key element in the theories of Freire. This transformation is reflected in his work Pedagogy of the Heart, in which he presented the argument that education should not be limited to the adaptation of oneself to the context but should include the transformation of the context. According to Freire (1997), participants are capable of transforming the world through their actions and by expressing their reality in a creative language. By interacting with others in their schools and communities, adults start to question prior interpretations and collectively redefine and create new knowledge.

Freire claimed that an egalitarian dialogue in educational activities will create a social transformation that, by necessity, takes into account the most oppressed groups. However, his proposal was not naive; on the contrary, it was full of meaning and promoted a radical democracy based on the struggle against hypocrisy. Freire (1998) asserted,

I refuse to add my voice to that of the peacemakers who call upon the wretched of the earth to be resigned to their fate. My voice is in tune with a different language, another kind of music. It speaks of resistance, indignation, the just anger of those who are deceived and betrayed. It speaks, too, of their right to rebel against the ethical transgressions of which they are the long-suffering victims. (p. 73)

Participants organize in classrooms but also in associations to develop solidarity with the most oppressed and to address injustice. Freire, in the educational settings in which he became involved, discovered that popular knowledge is neither superficial nor naive; on the contrary, it involves the analysis and understanding of problems in terms of solidarity (Freire, 1970). For that reason, he committed to the political intentionality that requires education through development, by means of collective dialogue, of a critical awareness to overcome the conditions of subjugation.


Since the 1980s, various social and educational theories have emerged asserting the possibility of changing the conditions of inequality and exclusion of the actions of individuals and the radicalization of democracy (Beck, 1998; Flecha, 2000; Giroux, 1988; Habermas, 1989; Macedo, 1994; Puigvert, 2014). Social theories include the contributions of Habermas, starting with his work The Theory of Communicative Action. In this work, a societal analysis is conducted using a model based on intersubjective understanding. He proposed a communicative rationality in which it is presupposed that several subjects in interaction can reach agreements. For that purpose, Habermas (1989) introduced the concept of validity claims in opposition to power claims. Validity claims are based on the use of arguments, which are those claims that lead the communicative processes to an agreement. Such agreement can be achieved because it is based on intersubjectivity, that is, that all individuals have the capacity for communication, action, and coordinating these actions aimed at reaching an understanding. Therefore, Habermas (1989) indicated that consensus can be achieved (agreement reached communicatively) by establishing a dialogue that seeks the truth without coercion because the individuals involved in this dialogue use arguments based on validity claims rather than power claims (Habermas, 1989). Another important element analyzed in The Theory of Communicative Action and related to the processes of understanding the lifeworld is that The lifeworld that members construct from common cultural traditions is coextensive with society. It draws all societal processes into the searchlight of cooperative processes of interpretation (Habermas, 1989, p. 149).

Habermas assigns a significant role to solidarity. In his work The Inclusion of the Other (1998), he proposed solidarity as a new power of social integration and as a way of coordinating action in society. In addition, he proposed the concept of deliberative democracy (Habermas, 1998) based on communicative conditions that produce rational outcomes because such communication is performed deliberatively. He presented a model of deliberative politics in which political will is aimed at understanding and reaching consensus communicatively. This process takes the form of collective decision-making (this occurs in constitutional states in the public political sphere and in communicative processes of civil society), which increasingly influences the actions of the people through a democratic culture (Habermas, 1998).

The contributing educational theories are briefly discussed here from a communicative perspective. One of the main theoretical contributions is that of dialogic learning (Flecha, 2000). In the late 1990s, Flecha developed the theoretical basis for dialogic learning, including the educational process, the curriculum, and the organizational aspects of adult education. The importance of this learning stems from its recognition of the capabilities of all learners to possess language, action, and understanding. Egalitarian dialogue serves as the primary tool to obtain and expand knowledge, and promoting democratic management and organization, cultural intelligence, and communicative abilities become new concepts that supersede other concepts of intelligence. A transformation that takes place in personal, cultural, and social life is another aspect reflected in democratic adult education and the instrumental dimension: the possibility to learn all the required competencies to successfully participate in the information society. Finally, dialogic learning creates new meanings in peoples lives and new solidarity networks based on a principle of equality of differences.

Other authors, also from the communicative perspective on education, have had impacts, as did Freire, on the political intentionality that education should serve to overcome inequalities and on the radicalization of democracy. Macedo, together with Freire (1987), denounced the silence of intellectuals and teachers facing injustice and defended the right and obligation that all the collectives have when facing these conditions. Macedo (1994) asserted that interaction through egalitarian dialogue develops the basis for breaking with these realities of inequality and injustice. Giroux (1999), throughout his work, defended democratic schools, in which freedom, justice, and solidarity are promoted, and emphasized the primacy of politics, power, and struggle as an educational commitment. For Giroux (1988), education needs to be a political project that deepens democratic values and in which teachers act as transformative intellectuals who counteract the existing hegemonic discourse.

These social and educational theories influenced the DAE movement. Especially important is the significance of the centrality of egalitarian dialogue in the struggle against inequalities, also through the significant role of solidarity in the social integration of society, by the understanding that everyone possesses language and action capabilities, and through the political intentionality of education for the overcoming of inequalities. All these elements are further explored in the next section.


Through an analysis of the historical emergence of the DAE movement in Spain, it is showed how it has been informed and influenced by the three mentioned strands the libertarian movement, Freires theoretical contributions, and other social and educational theories from contemporary authors who conceive education as a tool for overcoming inequalities. Their influences on the DAE can be appreciated in some of the characteristics underpinning the movement, among which we highlight the following: 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 working-class people.


In the 1970s, the growing need for training and the desire for political change promoted the appearance of many adult schools with alternative perspectives linked to local and neighborhood associations. These initiatives joined to create larger organizations of regional and national networks. In the 1980s, one of the most well-known initiatives in adult education in Spain was the Catalan Coordinator of Adult Schools (Flecha et al., 1988). In this context of democratic and educational initiatives, the Asociación de Educación de Personas Adultas [Association of Adult Education] (AEPA), an association of educators for the development of proposals for democratic adult education (AEPA, 1983), was created in Catalonia in 1983. That same year, AEPA organized the first Conference on Continuous Adult Education in Catalonia at the regional level (AEPA, 1983).

In 1984, the First Conference in Adult Education at the national level was held in Madrid, in which several groups suggested the need to become organized at the national level and to collaborate over several years (AEPA, 1983, 1985). At this conference, FAEA, or Federación de Asociaciones de Educación de Adultos [Federation of Associations of Adult Education], was created. It was also suggested that the decision-making and representation of the organizations of the adult education movement should be in the hands of the participants themselves (Giner, 2011). However, although most of those attending appeared to agree with a greater democratization of adult education organizations, in practice it was still the teachers and other professionals who made decisions regarding the operation of schools at a local level (Giner, 2011). Thus, FAEA continued to coordinate the various organizations over a decade but barely promoted any initiatives presented by the participants and did not promote their organization in associations.

In parallel with the creation of democratic associations of adult education in the early 1990s, there was an increase in research and theoretical development in adult education. In 1990, the Grupo 90 was created by the faculties of various departments of Spanish universities to focus on adult education research with the explicit commitment to the development of democratic adult education (AEPA, 1998). Another significant event in the evolution of DAE was the International Congress of New Critical Perspectives on Education, held in 1994 in Barcelona and organized by CREA8 (Center for Research in Theories and Practices to Overcome Inequalities, University of Barcelona). This congress was the first gathering in Spain of highly regarded figures in the international educational community, such as Castells, Flecha, Freire, Macedo, Giroux, and Willis. They proposed a concept of education based on dialogue and on the interactions with the various contexts in which individuals participate and based on the potential for education to effect change through action, both in the personal and social areas, to overcome inequalities and achieve emancipation (Castells et al., 1999).

In the face of the tendency toward corporatism exhibited by FAEA, there appeared a critical initiative from a group of adult education participants associations based in Catalonia, in which grassroots people without higher academic credentials, and some even being illiterate, asserted the possibility of self-organizing and coordinating regionally at the margins of FAEA (Giner, 2011). Six associations9 were the founders in 1996 of FACEPA, the Catalan Federation of Cultural and Educational Associations of Adult Education, a regional federation aimed at developing educational, social, and cultural initiatives that contribute to the overcoming of social and educational inequalities, promoting dialogue between different cultures and lifestyles as well as a democratic and participatory model of social organization transferrable to other areas (Giner, 2011, p. 117). Five of FACEPAs founding associations were (and still are) managed by the participants, that is, the responsible positions are held by them, and decisions are made by consensus among the entire membership. FACEPA was the first federation of participants associations managed by the same participant people. It was legally established in 1996 (Giner, 2011). As stated in the bylaws of 1996, FACEPA has the aim of developing educational, social and cultural initiatives that contribute to the overcoming of social and educational inequalities; in addition, these initiatives must promote a democratic and participatory model of social organization transferrable to other areas (Giner, 2011, p. 117).

As observed, the organizational structure and the management model of both FACEPA and the associations that comprise it are imbued with some of the core characteristics of the libertarian movement, which have had great force in the early decades of the 20th century in Spain among the worker population. One of these characteristics is the self-organization and self-management of the educational and cultural projects by their own participants from the working class, similar to the management of the libertarian ateneos. This key principle was also included in the Participants Bill of Rights, a 13-article declaration approved by FACEPA in which the education requested by participants is specified. Regarding the management, the Bill asserts: All the participants have the right to be part of the organs for internal management of the centers, projects, and educational experiences . . . the management has to be open and democratic and that the participants will have the status of full members (FACEPA, 1999a, para. 8). This way of working has led FACEPA, for instance, to be, since its very beginning, represented by working-class participants.

This was the case of Juanaone of the last presidents of FACEPAan illiterate adult woman who migrated from Andalusia to Barcelona in the early 1960s searching for better labor opportunities and who got involved in Heura Association by the early 1980s. Juana has not only acted as FACEPAs representative in several public events but also has become proficient in reading and writing by enjoying reading classical works such as Lorcas Gypsy Ballads and Joyces Ulysses through participating in the dialogic literary gatherings of La Verneda-Sant Martí Adult School, where now she volunteers enabling others to discover the world through the word as she did many years ago.

Another of FACEPAs traits that recalls the influence of the libertarian movement ideas on the DAE is its conviction in the fight for an emancipatory education oriented to giving voice to those most oppressed. This is also reflected in FACEPAs Participants Bill of Rights when expressing that the federation must respond to the very needs of the participants, and priority has to be assigned to the segments of society at risk of social exclusion, such as the other women (Puigvert, 2014), women with no academic education (like Juana) who have been traditionally excluded from public spaces of dialogue and decision making, and also immigrant people, ethnic minorities, or people with disabilities. FACEPAs approach conceives the emancipatory education as the one oriented to providing educational opportunities to its participants, enabling them to access high culture and the possibility of improving their living conditions.

With the passing of time, support for the Participants Bill of Rights has grown, and it has been also disseminated to associations in other countries.10 In July 2000, the Group 90, together with a group of educators and the associations of participants who supported the Participants Bill of Rights, organized the first Trijornadas on DAE in Barcelona. During this three-day conference, the functioning of the DAE movement was established and agreed on (Giner, 2011). The agreements reached by consensus during this conference included those specifying the function of educators as a collective and specifying the role of the scientific community as one of supporting the organization of adult participants and promoting such organization from a horizontal position as a way to transform reality (AEPA, 1998; Flecha, 2011).

Another agreement resulting from the first Trijornadas of participants associations was the creation of a federation of participants associations consisting of an umbrella organization involving all the already created associations managed by the participants who do not have university degrees or receive compensation through their dedication to AE (although members may be individuals who do not meet those prerequisites). FAPEA will also include the associations of university faculty and educators who would support participants without replacing their voices (Giner, Lebrón, & Valls, 2000, p. 33).

In 2000, this proposed national organization was designated FAPEA (Federation of Federations and Associations of Participants in Democratic Adult Education and Culture), based on the idea that it would be a federation (Giner et al., 2000). However, when attempting to legally register the organization, it was noted that it could not be structured as a federation because a federation cannot be a member of another federation, as would be the case with FACEPA (the Catalan federation). Nevertheless, the organization was officially recognized in 2001 as the confederation CONFAPEA (Confederation of Adult Education Participants Associations on Democratic Culture and Education), which was allowed to include federations as members (CONFAPEA, 2001).

Article 2 of the bylaws of CONFAPEA (2001) includes the goal of becoming the link between various associations. The activities of the organization will thereby serve the DAE movement and represent the voices of the participants and their associations such that they are not replaced or manipulated by professionals, corporations, or the government. Consistent with this, another aim of CONFAPEA is to promote DAE through a transformative, democratic, and participatory educational model. To achieve this goal, CONFAPEA adopted the Participants Bill of rights promoted by FACEPA, and it also approved an ethical code for DAE (CONFAPEA, 2000). This code defines the specific principles to be followed by the participants, educators, and researchers in adult education. It is worth mentioning here the remarks it makes on the tasks of educators, given that it states that they should apply the best educational theories and practices developed to date and that they will seek means to validate the learning that participants have acquired throughout their lives (CONFAPEA, 2000). The existence of this ethical code, in which it was made explicit the means through which the educator should enhance the educational promotion of the learner, was of an unprecedented relevance for the consolidation of a truly democratic education; it involved overcoming the banking model of education much used in Spain during the dictatorial regime and thus adopting the libertarian pedagogy advocated by Freire, in which the cultural intelligence of participants (Flecha, 2000) was not only acknowledged but also considered a central axis of the educational model.

The underpinnings of FACEPA and CONFAPEA explained in this section as well as the dynamics that led to their creation reflect how the DAE movement was built on the most transformative social and educational theories. On the one hand, it was grounded on Freires notion (1998) of the importance of the collaboration on the basis of egalitarian dialogue among all the groups participating in the educational processparticipants, educators, academics, and othersthus recognizing that all individuals are capable of creating knowledge and managing cultural and educational projects. On the other hand, it was also aligned with Habermass idea (1989) of rejecting power claims to be based on the validity claims raised by its participants.


As was described earlier, the Trijornadas on DAE was held in 2000 to bring together university researchers (Grupo 90), adult educators, and participants and offer space for these groups to debate and advance the development of DAE in Spain. This conference produced the agreement that CONFAPEA will be responsible of developing and promoting annual literacy congresses of participants. Although the first one was organized by FACEPA in 1999 as a regional event, since 2001, CONFAPEA has been in charge of their organization at a national level. These literacy congresses of participants are an outcome of the Participants Bill of Rights in adult education, specifically the need to create dialogic spaces for debate and proposals where literacy participants and learners at initial levels can participate (CONFAPEA, 2002). These congresses rapidly became gatherings of people working in DAE in Spain and evolved into mass meetings of 300 to 400 participants from various regions of the country, all involved in adult education.

The operation of these congresses is egalitarian and democratic (CONFAPEA, 2002). They are developed by several committees of participants responsible for preparing the contents, location, reception, registration, protocols, the working groups, and the relationship with the media. Through a deliberative process, participants set the agenda of the congress and, prior to the meeting, at their own institutions and associations, they propose the topics to be treated. It is noteworthy that at these congresses, in contrast to traditional expert conferences, the participants are involved and empowered to organize, lead, attend, and actively participate in the events. Educators and representatives of the administration can attend to learn from the contributions of the participants and lend support but never to replace their voice. Working in this way entails significant changes in the way educators and participants relate to one another at their sites of adult education, thus evidencing Habermass (1989) idea that everyone possesses capacity of language and action: In these congresses, participants can freely express their views and raise discussions about the kind of education they want.

The celebration of these congresses is the result of the preceding years achievements leading to the development of the DAE movement. A key milestone in these celebrations occurred in 1988, when Freire visited Barcelona for his investiture as Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona. Making the most of his stay, the movement for adult education in Catalonia organized a presentation by Freire, which many literacy participants attended. Freire then offered the audience his ideas for liberating education and discussed the struggle that many participants had undertaken. This meeting with him supposed a turning point for many women participating in the DAE when Julia, a learner seated at the same table, spoke about the voice given to her and her central role as a participant (Giner, 2011). For this working-class nonacademic woman, sitting there in the foreground and next to Freire in representation of all those other women participants in the AE meant to make visible that their views and demands were indeed taken into account and listened to in the public realm. These other women showed that day that they could also make a difference and become active agents in the construction of the DAE movement in Spain, as someday in the past the Free Women movement did, thus breaking down the elitist barriers that many of them had faced regarding access to high-quality education until that moment.

During this stay in Barcelona, Freire visited the Adult School of La Verneda-Sant Martí (which has two participants association members of FACEPA), and several people explained to him the events taking place in Spain to create a movement for adult education in which the voices of the participants were included. They also explained to him that once this movement was consolidated, literacy congresses of participants and dialogic literary gatherings congresses would be created. Freire said that he would also promote such action in Brazil and suggested that when these literacy congresses were created, those in Spain and Sao Paulo should join (Giner, 2011; Flecha 2011). The year after his stay in Barcelona, Freire served as Secretary of Education of Sao Paulo (from 1989 to 1991) and that same year prompted the MOVA (Movimento de Alfabetização de Jovenes e Adultos) [Literacy Movement of Youth and Adults]. In 1990, he helped to organize the first literacy congress in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In this congress, those speaking were the individuals in the literacy process, and those listening were the professionals (Giner, 2011, p. 129). However, the promotion of these initiatives ended when a new secretary of education of Sao Paulo took office.

In 2002, five literacy congresses of participants were held in five countries (Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, and Spain) as part of a European Union (EU)-funded project titled TROBADA: Citizenship for All, From Participation, Adult Basic Education and Volunteer Work (20002002). On the occasion of the meeting in Spain, one participant said, Due to lack of access to education, we have been largely excluded from these spaces where our voice can be heard to decide what and how we want to learn (FACEPA, 2002b). This particular example on the geographical extension of the Congresses beyond Spain serves the same purpose as in the libertarian movement: the need to create an international organization among the workers of the world in order to make social transformation go beyond national borders (Guérin, 1970), as well as the fact of placing central importance on the learners most in need of transforming their own reality by involving themselves in these processes of change (Ackelsberg, 1988; Suissa, 2004).

In the 2005, another long-term dream regarding the literacy congress of participants came true. The idea presented by Freire in 1998 to unite the literacy congresses (organized by and for the participants in literacy education) both in Brazil and Spain finally became a reality. The goal was to hold two joint literacy congresses, one in Brazil and one in Spain. This goal was achieved with the first international literacy congress of participants, held at the University of Almeria in 2005. Joint participation was via videoconference, and the participants gathered in the Paulo Freire Municipal Workers Center and the School Nossa Senhora de Fátima of Porto Alegre (Brazil), who themselves were holding a literacy congress. This experience helped to connect people in distant countries experiencing very similar learning processes.

These education initiatives are transforming the methods of participating in adult education by many and are encouraging participants to take part in real proposals. In 2011, the 10th literacy congress of participants welcomed participants from 6 additional countries (England, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and France) with the support of the Eur-Alpha network project (20092012), which is funded by the European Commission. One AE participant from Ireland attending the congress stated the importance of European participants becoming organized and having a stronger voice in Europe (Eur-Alpha, 2012), revealing the political intentionality of education for the overcoming of inequalities as an influence of the social and educational theories to the DAE. He said,

Our goal is to have in Europe a common approach for the participants, so that all participants have access to free education and access to all the education they desire. We want a united group of participants in Europe and that everyone in Europe is included, to have a more powerful voice, and give participants a greater voice. This week, all participants have seen passion, everyone is eager to make changes in their countries, and it has been a fantastic experience for each and every one of us.

In 2012, FACEPA was recognized for its contribution of participants voices to European public debate by its inclusion as a full member of the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN, 2012). Since 2014, FACEPA has been an associate member of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA, 2014), which it works with on European projects to publicize the importance of democratic adult education for all.

In all, the literacy congresses illustrate the political force of the DAE movement in the sense claimed by Macedo and Girouxfirst, because they became dialogic spaces where educational inequalities are denounced and also a platform where teachers, participants, and intellectuals work together to agree on the best ways to achieve the highest quality education for the participants (Macedo, 1994), and second, because these are educational projects committed to the democratic values of freedom, justice, and solidarity, in which the hegemonic discourse about the impossibility of working-class people accessing and understanding culture is deeply counteracted (Giroux, 1988).


One of the most transformative actions implemented within the DAE movement to promote access to higher culture for all participants has been the dialogic literary and musical gatherings. The dialogic literary gatherings (DLGs) are a cultural and educational activity in which individuals who lack higher education meet to share, read, and discuss on the basis of egalitarian dialogue a literary work of universal classic status. In turn, the dialogic musical gatherings (hereafter DMGs) follow the same format but with auditions of classical music compositions followed by discussions. The primary outcome is that people who have not had access to classic literature or who have not heard a piece of classical music can enjoy these classic works. Therefore, based on the cultural intelligence that all people possess, one of the principles of the dialogic learning (Flecha, 2000) states that it is possible to Break with the knowledge stratification by social class, gender, ethnicity, age, or any other criterion of discrimination against individuals and groups. All people of every condition have the skills and knowledge necessary for the improvement of learning and life (Giner, 2011, p. 198). The first DLG was held in 1980 at the Adult School of Verneda-Sant Martí, located in Barcelona. FACEPA spread this practice among its associations, as did CONFAPEA subsequently. Since 2000, these DLGs have been widely promoted through the project 1001 Literary Gatherings around the World,11 which was named to pay tribute to the literary classic The Arabian Nights. The goal of this project is to encourage people to organize and conduct DLGs.

FACEPA thereby has developed different actions for promoting the DLGs among other adult education associations in Spain and worldwide. For instance, it has taken part in several EU-funded projects that have brought this initiative to other EU countries. Among these projects, it is worth mentioning Gatherings in Cyberspace (20002001). One action of this project was to conduct Internet literary gatherings and to share comments and reflections on the same classic book among participants in various countries. This experience was groundbreaking in terms of both the success of the gatherings in those places where it was implemented and the novelty of communicating through the Internet. The members of the DLG shared their reflections on the same books virtually with other participants in other countries; for many of them, being involved in a DLG was the first experience they had ever had with a computer and the Internet. Afterward, many participants continued to learn the uses of information and communications technology. The development of virtual DLGs made it possible to promote intercultural relationships on the basis of equality of differences when, for example, participants in the Czech Republic and Spain shared their reflections on Kafkas The Metamorphosis (AGORA, 2002). Adults from the four countries participating in the Gatherings in the Cyberspace project joined the second DLG congress held in Barcelona to describe their experiences and how they were implementing DLGs in their countries.

DLGs have also received support from internationally recognized intellectuals, such as John Comings of Harvard University when he served as the director of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (Flecha, García-Carrion, & Gómez, 2013). International recognition has also come from figures in the world of culture and literature, such as the Spanish writer José Luís Sampedro and the Nobel laureate José Saramago, who was unable to attend the first congress in 2000 and wrote the following about the gatherings (CONFAPEA, 2007):

I love knowing that a literary gathering interests so many people and that the gatherings have been so successful. I would have loved to attend the Congress because your work plan is extraordinary and necessary to render conscious the individuality of each member of a society that tries to be more and more cohesive.

In 2003, Donaldo Macedo, professor of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, linguistics, and contrastive analysis in the Department of Humanities and Education at the University of Massachusetts and a close collaborator and great friend of Paulo Freire, wrote a letter to the participants of the DLG supporting the congresses (CONFAPEA, 2003): The 3rd DLG Congress exemplifies par excellence, the importance of the reading process as a process through which the fractured cultural souls who wanted to read the world and were unfairly silenced, can recapture the access to reading the word (p. 4).

DLGs promote personal transformations and empower the adult participants to overcome cultural elitism through the reading of universal classic literature. DLGs are even held in prisons, thereby promoting important social transformations in the inmates, the correctional officers, and, consequently, the families of the inmates. Flecha et al. (2013) described the impacts of this social and educational practice in this context as being threefold: The practice impacts the participant while in the facility and outside after serving time, it impacts the correctional institution, and finally it impacts the participants relationships with the social and family environment (p. 148). A DLG participant allowed this statement to be shared by on-screen projector at the 4th DLG Congress (2006) (CONFAPEA, 2006, pp. 89):

The DLG taught me, and then it opened a door that at first I thought did not exist. In the DLG, there is communication, sharing of thoughts, laughter and sorrow. Through the halls of the facility we speak about literature: how far have you read? . . . As you enter the reading room, you become a participant in the gathering; you no longer belong to this world. Here we only talk about what we all love and with absolute freedom. Every day we strengthen the respect for others.

In the analysis done by Soler (2002) about DLGs, she reported that through dialogic reading, instrumental learning is achieved, thereby improving the reading skills, text analysis, and collective analysis. These are some of the reasons that explain why both DLGs and DMGs are currently considered successful educational actions, which can also be replicated at various levels of education and in various contexts (Flecha & Soler, 2013; Flecha et al., 2013). One of the most important impacts that these activities have on their participants is that individuals end up actively involved in other educational activities and in decision making at the educational site and in their community (CONFAPEA, 2007; Flecha & Soler, 2013; Muñoz, Espino, & Antrop-González, 2014). As it can be appreciated, the DLGs and the DMGs are both actions promoted within the DAE movement that enable all their participants, no matter their educational level or their socioeconomic background, to be capable of creating knowledge and managing cultural and educational projects, transforming their own world in the way Freire suggested (1998). These are also inspired on the Free Women actions who seek to liberate and emancipate women by means of their access to education of quality. They also reflect that everyone possesses capacity of language, action, and understanding (Flecha, 2000) and that agreements and consensus can be reached through dialogic and egalitarian interactions. Thus, these activities suppose a radical democratization of culture in the sense that they foster the access of those most grassroots adult people to classic literature and music, challenging all those prejudices and stereotypes, such as the assumption that working-class people cannot understand and enjoy Shakespeares metaphors or Handels compositions.


This article concludes that many of the educational practices under the democratic adult education movement and the characteristics that define them are influenced, on the one hand, by elements of the Spanish libertarian movement of the early 20th century. The libertarian education aimed to achieve emancipation through active and critical participation in all aspects of life. This personal and social liberation is achieved by individuals being agents of their own education and management. They develop their own educational programs and activities, such as literacy campaigns, and promote reading and writing through the use of quality literature and literary gatherings to enable access to higher culture and scientific knowledge through shared readings and discussions of classic books. The DAE movement promotes access to higher culture for all participants as an outgrowth of the promotion by the libertarian movement of literary gatherings by workers focused on universal classics, similar to the self-education initiatives carried out at the beginning of the 20th century in Spain in the libertarian ateneos. Thus, the current DAE movement has gathered this legacy of the libertarian movement regarding their understanding and practice of adult education.

On the other hand, the DAE movement proposes an education based on egalitarian dialogue among all people who are part of the educational community and in which the participant is the protagonist of the educational process. Drawing on this, existing experiences such as the literacy congresses of participants, the dialogic literacy gatherings, and the dialogic musical gatherings radically democratic actions that have proved their success in Spain and beyondreveal the influence that Freires educational theories have had on shaping the adult education movement in Spain. The education promoted through these initiatives and hence by the DAE movement is based on solidarity with the most disadvantaged and has a transformative political purpose: The issues of submission are analyzed and questioned, which serves the collective struggle for a better world.

The overarching purpose of this article was to provide an account of the historical and theoretical precedents of DAE movement in Spain as well as document this piece of adult education history. As has been explained, the history of the DAE movement in Spain has been deeply influenced by countless elements of the libertarian movement in Spain, by numerous elements of Freires work, and by social and educational theories. In this article, we have shown how the influence of these three strands is displayed through three characteristics of the DAE: 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. One of the most important educational implications that follow from the study of DAE is to raise awareness about the compromise of finding ways to create spaces for learners participation and centrality by AE teachers and researchers. This should be achieved through giving up partitions of their power to favor egalitarian participation.

The DAE movement in Spain has demonstrated going a step further in promoting social inclusion by including participants voices and creating solidarity contexts. The DAE movement is a transformational and committed educational practice seeking quality education for all, particularly those most at risk of social exclusion, and is currently influencing other movements, organizations, and schools locally, nationally, and internationally. The findings from this research encourage further study and raise important questions. Taking into account the importance of the historical context of the precedents of DAE in Spain, can this educational movement have the same impact in other countries with different historical backgrounds? How can DAE experiences be of use to other educational levels? Further studies on the educational and organizational practices of DAE should be developed to deepen the analysis of its effects on individuals and society.


1. The two concepts labor movement and libertarian movement will be used synonymously. The organizations that were part of the libertarian movement were the Libertarian Youth, CNT, and Free Women. The Libertarian Youth, also known as the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth, was founded in 1932 with the aim of promoting CNT for young people and organizing all youth who shared anarchists ideas for working together with the goal of a better future. CNT is a Spanish trade union confederation composed of anarchist union groups. Free Women is a working-class womens movement aimed at liberating women from the slavery of the capitalist system, from patriarchal society, and from the lack of access to education.

2. Successful educational actions are educational practices that improve relationships within and between a school and the community and lead to good results in various contexts, which makes them transferable across contexts (Flecha & Soler, 2013).

3. Bill project. European Chart of Participants Right in Adult Education (19971998). Socrates Programme. European Commission. (2) MEPA. Participate and transform. A model of adult education through dialogue. (19992000). Socrates Programme. European Commission. (3) From MEPA to MEDA. From the Adult Education model to the Model of Democratic Adult Education. (20002001) Socrates Programme. European Commission. (4) TROBADA. Citizenship for all, from participation, adult basic education and voluntary work. (20002002) Grundtvig Lifelong Learning, European Commission. (5) Eur-Alpha network project. (20092012) Grundtvig Lifelong Learning European Commission.

4. AIT, Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores [International Workers Association], is an international federation of labor unions with an anarchist and unionist orientation created in 1864.

5. CNT is a Spanish trade union confederation, created in 1910, composed of anarchist union groups and sectors.

6. New School is an international educational movement that has gone by various namesthat is, progressive education or active schooland is based on active didactic procedures, learning by doing, and integrating entrepreneurship in education.

7. The Modern School of Ferrer i Guàrdia promoted a rational education based on the latest scientific contributions in education and science and in opposition to superstition and authoritarianism. Access to high-quality education for working-class children of both genders and their families was encouraged (Ferrer i Guàrdia, 2000). The Modern School had an immense impact internationally and spread rapidly to such countries as the United States, Portugal, Brazil, Switzerland, and the Netherlands (González, Marqués, Mayordomo, & Sureda, 2002). Ferrer i Guàrdia, a Spanish pedagogue, had a tremendous international impact (Solà, 1978).

8. See more information at http://creaub.info/.

9. These associations were: Associació dAlumnes de lEscola dAdults de Sant Roc-Congrés; Associació Heura and Associació Àgora at the Adult School La Verneda-Sant Martí; Associació Promotora de Educació Permanent Adults, APEPA; Associació de Formació Permanent dAdults Creixent; and Associació dEducació de Persones Adultes, AEPA.

10. For instance, it has been disseminated in the Netherlands and Belgium by means of a project financed by the European Commission and coordinated by FACEPA (1999b). As a result, and in recognition of this project, the Participants Bill of Rights received an award from the European Commission as the best disseminated project during the period 19951999 (Soler, 2003). The Bill of Rights has been also disseminated via its publication in 2002 by the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (FACEPA, 2002a), by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA, 2002), through the Regional Conference on Lifelong Learning in Europe: Moving Towards EFA Goals, and through the CONFINTEA V (5th International Conference of Adult Education ) Agenda, which was held in 2002 in Bulgaria and was attended by approximately 200 delegates from the majority of European countries and from other parts of the world (UNESCO, 2002).

11. See more information on the CONFAPEA website, http://confapea.org/tertulias/.


Ackelsberg, M. A. (1988). Anarchist revolution and womens liberation. Society, 25(2), 2937. doi:10.1007/BF02695622

AGORA. (2002). Gatherings in the Cyberspace project. European Commission Grundtvig, Lifelong Learning, Project No. 71238-CP-1-1999-1-ES-ADULT EDUC-ADU. Retrieved from http://www.sivistystyo.fi/eaea/fair/11380_FY_Cyberspace.PDF

Association of Adult Education. (1983). Memòria de lAEPA 1983 [AEPA Report 1983]. Papers dEducació dAdults, 1(8), 8.

Association of Adult Education. (1985). Jornades Estatals [National Conference in AE]. Papers dEducació dAdults, 3(16), 16.

Association of Adult Education. (1998). Model deducació de persones adultes AEPA [Model of adult education]. Papers dEducació dAdults, 30, 41.

Beck, U. (1998). World risk society. Cambridge, England: Polity Press.

Bell, B., Gaventa, J., & Peters, J. (1990). We make the road by walking: Conversations on education and social change. Myles Horton and Paulo Freire. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Boyd, C. P. (1976). The anarchist and education in Spain, 18681909. Journal of Modern History, 48(4), 125170. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1877306

Casanova, J. (2005). Terror and violence: The dark face of Spanish anarchism. International Labor and Working Class History, 67, 7999. doi:10.1017/S0147547905000098

Castells, M., Flecha, R., Freire, P., Giroux, H., Macedo, D., & Willis, P. (1999). Critical education in the new information age. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

CONFAPEA. (2000). Código Ético para una educación democrática de personas adultas [Ethical Code for democratic adult education]. Retrieved from http://www.neskes.net/confapea/codigo.htm

CONFAPEA. (2001). By-laws. Retrieved from http://www.neskes.net/confapea/pdf/estatutos.pdf

CONFAPEA. (2002). Conclusiones IV Congreso de alfabetización [Conclusions of 4th literacy congress]. Vigo. Retrieved from http://CONFAPEA.org/es/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/4congralfa_es.pdf

CONFAPEA. (2003). Conclusiones III Congreso Tertúlias Literarias y Musicales Dialógicas [Conclusions of 3rd Dialogic literary and musical gatherings congress]. Madrid. Retrieved from http://CONFAPEA.org/tertulias/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/3-Conclusiones-Congreso-de-Tertulias-Literarias-y-Musicales-Dial%C3%B3gicas.pdf

CONFAPEA. (2006). Conclusiones IV Congreso Tertúlias Literarias y Musicales Dialógicas [Conclusions of 4th Dialogic literary and musical gatherings congress]. Vitoria-Gasteiz. Retrieved from http://CONFAPEA.org/tertulias/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/4-conclusiones.pdf

CONFAPEA. (2007). Manual de tertulia literaria dialógica [Manual of dialogic literary gatherings]. Retrieved from http://www.cepguadix.es/moodle2/pluginfile.php/1175/mod_resource/content/1/Manual-Tertulias-Literarias-Dial%C3%B3gicas_CONFAPEA.pdf

Del Pozo Andrés, M. M., & Braster, J.F.A. (2006). The reinvention of the new education movement in the Franco dictatorship (Spain, 19361976). Paedagogica Historica, 42(1&2), 109126. doi:10.1080/00309230600552047

Dolgoff, S. (1990). The anarchist collectives: Workers self-management in the Spanish revolution 19361939. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Black Rose Books.

Elboj, C. (2014). In the path to regaining social sciences legitimacy through Public Sociology. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 3(2), 158181. doi:10.4471/rimcis.2014.35

European Association for the Education of Adults. (2002, November). Participants Bill of Rights [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.sivistystyo.fi/eaea/news/bill.html

European Association for the Education of Adults. (2014, June). EAEA members gathered for General Assembly 2014 [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.eaea.org/en/home/news/eaea-members-gathered-for-general-assembly-2014.html

Eur-Alpha. (2012). Eur-Alpha network project. European Commission Grundtvig Lifelong Learning, Project No. 50523-2009-LLP-BE-GRUNDTVIG-GNW. Retrieved from http://www.eur-alpha.eu/?about-us&lang=en

European Basic Skills Network. (2012). Members of the network. Retrieved from http://www.basicskills.eu/current-members/

FACEPA. (1999a). Declaración de los derechos de las personas participantes [Bill of rights of participants]. Retrieved from http://facepa.org/facepa/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/declaracio.pdf

FACEPA. (1999b). Bill of Rights of Participants in Adult Education. European Commission. Socrates Programme. DG XII. Retrieved from http://facepa.org/facepa/activitats/projectes-europeus/

FACEPA. (2002a). Participants Bill of Rights. Declaration of Rights of Adults in Education. No. 58. Bonn, Germany: DVV International. Retrieved from http://www.iiz-dvv.de/index.php?article_id=427&clang=1

FACEPA. (2002b). Trobada: Citizenship for All. From Basic Education. Voluntary Work and Participation. European Project. Retrieved from http://www.neskes.net/trobada

Ferrer i Guàrdia, F. (2000). La Escuela Moderna [Modern School]. Barcelona, Spain: Tusquets.

Flecha, R. (2000). Sharing words. Theory and practice of dialogic learning. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Flecha, R. (2011). The educative city and the critical education. In M. W. Apple, W. Au, & L. A. Gandin (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of critical education (pp. 327340). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Flecha, R., García-Carrion, R., & Gómez, A. (2013). Transfer of dialogue-based literary gatherings to prisons. Revista de Educación, 360, 140161. doi:10.4438/1988-592X-RE-2013-360-224

Flecha, R., López, F., & Saco, R. (1988). Dos siglos de educación de adultos: De las sociedades de amigos a los modelos actuales [Two centuries of adult education: From the societies of friends to the current models]. Barcelona, Spain: El Roure.

Flecha, R., & Soler, M. (2013). Turning difficulties into possibilities: Engaging Roma families and students in school through dialogic learning. Cambridge Journal of Education, 43(4), 451465. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2013.819068

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum.

Freire, P. (1976). Education, the practice of freedom. London, England: Writers and

Readers Cooperative.

Freire, P. (1997). Pedagogy of the heart. New York, NY: Continuum.

Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy, and civic courage. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Freire, P., & Macedo, D. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

García, R., & Ruiz, L. (2012). Aportaciones a la educación de las mujeres del movimiento libertario [Contributions to education from women of the libertarían movement]. Social and Education History, 1(2), 107128. doi:10.4471 /hse.2012.08

Gervilla Castillo, E. (2006). La escuela del nacional-catolicismo: Cercanía cronológica y distanciamiento axiológico [The school of national Catholicism: Chronological proximity and axiological distancing]. Bordón 58(45), 537550. Retrieved from http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=2663589

Giner, E. (2011). Amistad deseada: Aportaciones de Jesús Gómez y Ramón Flecha que están acercando la realidad a nuestros sueños [The desired friendship: Contributions from Jesús Gómez and Ramón Flecha that are bringing our dreams to reality]. Barcelona, Spain: Hipatia.

Giner, E., Lebrón, A., & Valls, R. (2000). Las voces de las personas participantes en los movimientos de educación de personas adultas del siglo XXI [The voices of the participants in adult education movements in the 21st century]. En Grupo 90 (Ed.), I Jornadas de investigación en educación de personas adultas. Barcelona, Spain: El Roure.

Giroux, H. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: Toward a critical pedagogy of learning. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Giroux, H. (1999). The mouse that roared: Disney and the end of innocence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

González, J., Marqués, S., Mayordomo, A., & Sureda, B. (2002). Tradició i Renovació Pedagògica, 1898-1939 [Tradition and pedagogical renovation, 18981939]. Barcelona, Spain: Publicacions lAbadia de Monteserrat.

González Pérez, T. (2013). Educación y transformación social: el proyecto educativo para las mujeres en el imaginario anarquista [Education and social transformation: the educational project for women in the anarchist imaginary]. História da Educação, 17(39), 213230. Retrieved from http://seer.ufrgs.br/asphe/article/view/20289

Groves, T. (2011). Looking up to Paulo Freire: Education and political culture during the Spanish transition to democracy. Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 47(5), 701717. doi:10.1080/00309230.2011.602348

Guérin, D. (1970). Anarchism: From theory to practice. New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

Habermas, J. (1989). The theory of communicative action: Lifeworld and System: A critique of functionalist reason. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. (1998). The inclusion of the other. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kennedy, W. B. (1981). Highlander praxis: Learning with Myles Horton. Teachers College Record, 83(1), 105119. Retrieved from http://www.tcrecord.org/library/Abstract.asp?ContentId=726

Lewis, H. M. (2001). Participatory research and education for social change: Highlander research and education center. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research (pp. 356362). London, England: Sage.

López-Núñez, J. A., & Lorenzo-Martín, M. E. (2009). Popular universities in Spain and their relationship with South American universities. Educación y Educadores, 12(1), 153167. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0123-12942009000100011

Macedo, D. (1994). Literacies of power: What Americans are not allowed to know. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Madero Cabib, I., & Madero Cabib, C. (2013). Between equity and differentiation: An analytical schema of the social function of education. International Journal of Sociology of Education, 2(2), 193214. doi:10.4471/rise.2013.29

Marques Sureda, S., & Martín Frechilla, J. J. (2002). La labor educativa de los exiliados españoles en Venezuela, Caracas [The educational work of the Spanish exiled in Venezuela, Caracas]. Fondo Editorial de Humanidades y Educación FHE-UCV.

Muñoz, S., Espino, M. M., & Antrop-González, R. (2014). Creating counter-spaces of resistance and sanctuaries of learning and teaching: An analysis of Freedom University. Teachers College Record,116 (7). ID Number: 17493

Navarro, J. N. (2003). Workers class, culture, and associationism: Some reflections on formal models and tendencies. Hispania-Revista Española de Historia, 63(214), 467484. Retrieved from http://hispania.revistas.csic.es/index.php/hispania/article/view/220/223

Otero-Urtaza, E. (2011). The educational missions under the Second Republic in Spain (19311936): A framework for popular education. Paedagogica Historica, 47(1&2), 207220. doi:10.1080/00309230.2010.530285

Ovejero, A. (2010). Spanish libertarian collectives: A unique historical case of worker self management. Working USA, 13(4), 521535. doi:10.1111/j.1743-4580.2010.00309.x

Preston, P. (2001). Revolution and war in Spain, 19311939. New York, NY: Routledge.

Preston, P. (2012). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and extermination in twentieth-century Spain. London, England: Harper Collins.

Puigvert, L. (2014). Preventive socialization of gender violence: Moving forward using the communicative methodology of research. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7) 839843. doi:10.1177/1077800414537221

Roberson, D. (2002). The seeds of social change from Denmark. Report. ERIC Digest.

Shearman, H. (1944). Adult education for democracy. London, England: Workers Educational Association.

Solà, P. (1978). Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia i lEscola Moderna [Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and the Modern School]. Barcelona, Spain: Curial.

Soler, M. (2002). Dialogic Reading: Adult Learners Crossing Cultural Borders. Reports-Research. ERIC.

Soler, M. (2003). Reaching the excluded for education for all. In C. Medel-Añonuevo (Eds.), Lifelong learning discourses in Europe (pp. 7389). Hamburg, Germany: UNESCO Institute for Education. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001364/136413e.pdf

Suissa, J. (2001). Anarchism, utopias and philosophy of education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 35(4), 627646. doi:10.1111/1467-9752.00249

Suissa, J. (2004). Vocational education: A social anarchist perspective. Policy Futures in Education, 2(1), 1430. doi:10.2304/pfie.2004.2.1.3

Tavera, S. (2012). Anarchism or anarchisms? The history of a heterogeneous revolutionary deployment, 19301938. Catalan Historical Review, 5, 101116. Retrieved from http://revistes.iec.cat/index.php/CHR/article/view/64989

Tiana, A. (1996). The workers movement and popular education in contemporary Spain (18681939). Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 32(3), 647684. doi:10.1080/0030923960320302

UNESCO. (2002, March). Lifelong learning in Europe: Moving towards EFA goals and the CONFINTEA V Agenda [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/efa/news_en/CONFITEA_Vagenda.shtml

Villacorta Baños, F. (2003). Liberal clubs: Politics, culture and intellectual sociability. Hispania-Revista Española de Historia, 63(214), 415422. Retrieved from http://hispania.revistas.csic.es/index.php/hispania/article/view/218/221

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 4, 2016, p. 1-31
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19363, Date Accessed: 10/26/2021 12:33:36 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

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.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue