Newer Approaches In Social Issues

The adult learning process has undergone several transitions from the historical discourse statistics. This paper presents sociocultural perspectives alongside critical theories affecting adult learning in contemporary society. The first part addresses the essential implication of race theory in adult education. The second part discusses gender socialization, with a close look and discussion on feminist theory. The third part addresses privilege existing based on gender concerning the film. The fourth part assesses the essential critical theory considered as challenging for adults. The fifth part addresses the importance of postmodernism in education and society. The sixth section uses a caption to describe the learning theories with a selection of appropriate context in the image. The final part addresses the selected learning theory challenges for the caption.

The critical theories on sociocultural perspectives have favored the predominant orientation of specific individual learners in a particular society (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). In this aspect, the interactive context of learners is influenced by the social structure by the majority and superiority of social factors such as race, gender, and class among others in society. The Critical Race Theory was developed to limit the application of racism in adult transformative learning for decades (Closson, 2010). The USA has spearheaded the role in enhancing cultural diversity in education. Despite the diversity of the nation, people tend to promote Western Europe values over other values from communities from different parts of the world (Gozawa, 2009). Education has been a foundation for the adult learning process and a tool to shape children’s view on who matters, what matters, priorities in life, and how to interact with others.

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From this learning discourse, one is either empowered or marginalized depending on the backgrounds. For instance, people may be grouped depending on their social, economic, and political aspects (Witztum, 2012). In the USA, marginalized groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans are affected by the cultural mismatch in their learning environment and their historical values (Guy, 1999). On a positive note, adult education helps learners especially from the identified marginalized communities to take full control of their life situations and set goals for good living standards to improve their conditions (Witztum, 2012).

Nevertheless, critical race theory has promoted political rejuvenation that enhances inclusiveness and representation of the marginalized group’s interests. For instance, in the USA, President Clinton proposed for the inclusiveness of the African American for a unified nation (Brookfield, 2011). This was a subject of concern in the US Congress which later gave rise to African American politicians. The inclusivity has been a source of African American empowerment which acts as multicultural inclusivity of the minority groups in the USA (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007).

Gender socialization is said to be the learning of behavior, its course development, and process learning, whereby individuals behave socially depending on their gender at birth. Precisely, it’s the behavior and attitude attributes of boys learning to be boys, and on the other side, girls learning to be girls (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). Feminist historians have discovered various thoughts regarding the identity of women, alongside empirical evidence of their potentials in society, resulting in a historical transition of defining capabilities among women in society (Scott, 1996). According to Brookfield (2011), feminism is defined as advocacy where women attempt to liberate themselves and fight against interlocking systems associated with racism, classism, and sexism in society.

Therefore, I define feminism as the recognition of women in society, to have equal rights and abilities as men. Gender socialization has been a profound source of gender stereotyping and has served as a platform for the development of feminist theories, creating more awareness concerning this issue (Merriam, et al., 2007). Brookfield (2011) states that gender differences have given rise to skepticism regarding gender characterization and the essentialism of assumptions about capabilities in society. Scott (1996) further supports this by stating that feminist advocacies have elevated women’s positions and their skills in society.

Adult education has given rise to various discoveries that enhance empowerment related to gender differences. The feminist theory views gender inequality by focusing on female empowerment (Brookfield, 2011). In the 18th century, feminists championed the operation of the mind to have no attachment to sex. During this period, women demanded citizenship inclusivity and political rights, which resulted in women in power, such as Joan of Arc (Scott, 1996). Precisely, feminist orientation addresses issues and roles of women in society, such as their rights which comprise their economic empowerment, sexual, education, and voting rights. The feminist theory has advocated for political and social development for several decades, supporting movements for gender equality in society, with a close focus on women.

The first historical feminist movement in the early 20th century integrated human rights, such as domestic violence, abortion rights, sexual harassment, and workplace rights (Scott, 1996). It has been a platform for the transition to women empowerment since the 20th century. From this aspect, adult learning has enabled women to take control of their lives and given rise to women in leadership positions, translating to women empowerment and recognition of their capabilities (Scott, 1996).

While some might agree that gender-based privileges exist, I believe that feminism often receives more attention in society. In today’s workplaces, men still have more opportunities, but the gap is getting smaller due to rising waves of feminism that fought for equality and protection. Feminist historians have presented several empowerment plans for women, seen predominantly across the USA and France (Scott, 1996). Today, organizations are more proactive in protecting women’s rights than four decades ago. The video “Trouble with Women,” revolving around the Aluminum Company of America, presents a masculine, discriminating ideology concerning feminism at work (Jaaash, 2009).

Despite the work records of the female workers at the Aluminum Company of America plant, their supervisor refuses to recognize their capabilities. He expresses negative views, particularly after receiving an official letter concerning a new female worker in his department (Jaaash, 2009). The supervisor has aired his concerns, stating that the women in his section are unprofessional and incapable of completing their tasks. According to him, they have a high tendency of being absent from work. Additionally, he implies that women are troublesome, citing that they use work tables as dressing places. The supervisor’s view is openly discriminatory as he expresses a preference for male workers. This film highlights the privileges that women receive in the workplace and implies they misuse these privileges, focusing more on personal activities rather than their professional roles.

Having observed the video “Overcoming Gender Biases in the Workplace,” it’s clear that the supervisor maintains a biased perspective regarding women in the workplace. This kind of gender bias constitutes unethical practice at work. It is crucial to address issues affecting employees’ competence and professionalism rather than simply blaming women. Related to the critical theories examined in this paper, the implications of race emerge as the most significant in the context of adult learning.

I consider race as the most complex theory because issues of racial segregation, notably in the USA, significantly impact adult education. For many decades, African Americans have been marginalized, with various political movements attempting to ascertain their place in society (Abrahams, 2016). Racism is consciously expressed by institutions, groups of people, and individuals within the community (Brookfield, 2011). In America, for example, racism has deterred economic development, with marginalized communities overrepresented in low-skilled jobs, leading to low incomes and inferior living standards (Witztum, 2012).

According to studies by Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007) based on a U.S. Department of Education survey conducted in 2000 and 2001, out of a total of 144,447 adult educators, 22,186 were black, 21,337 were Hispanic, and other groups accounted for 10,393, while the rest were white. These statistics show that most adult educators, predominantly white, have limited interaction with marginalized groups, signifying a gap in the relationship between whites, Hispanics, and minor groups (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007). This gap, which continues to grow, is leading to increasing discrepancies faced by marginalized groups throughout the USA. I believe that the issues of race and racial segregation will remain concerning for many years in the USA, Britain, and France (Brookfield, 2011). Adult education’s focus on racial identity will persist, but its impact on addressing racial inclusivity may be limited due to the underrepresentation of other groups in adult education compared to the marginalized members in the USA.

Postmodernism is crucial as it suggests that the world is disjointed, with several theories specifying particular insights of a community. The postmodernism education in this aspect attempts to question arguments spoken and written without justifications and consideration of issues facing the society (Brookfield, 2011). As a result, postmodernism has no single idea regarding reality and truth. In this case, postmodern adult learning attempts to address phenomena across all individuals and settings of society (Schied, Mulenga & Baptiste, 2005). Moreover, postmodernism offers broad perspectives, often contrasting views. These contrasting ideologies are essential in the development of concrete opinions regarding issues existing in society today.

According to Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007), postmodernism is characterized by the global changing of activities due to social, political, and economic factors. Adult education has been instrumental in presenting the new world order of factors that have led to uncertainties in society. Adult education has spearheaded the reconstruction of sensitive issues facing the community, such as technological revolution, multi-skills development, and the cohesion of multicultural practices in the community. Postmodernism plays a critical role in adult education by promoting diversity and respect for multicultural practices (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007). The context of diversity and multicultural practices result from the interaction of people, a learning process that allows people from diverse locations to acquire cultural practices from one another.

Therefore, postmodernism has facilitated the inclusion of marginalized communities in society and promotes tolerance on issues facing society (Gozawa, 2009). Finally, postmodernism encourages individuals to take control of their lives and determine the development of knowledge in the community, irrespective of the various disciplines (Brookfield, 2011). Learning in this context helps individuals realize their social orientations and equip them to cope with societal challenges and crises (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007).

Learning theories strive to enhance understanding and theorizing of thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle. The humanist orientation theory considers adult learning by determining the potentials of learners (Freud et al., 1953). I chose the humanistic orientation theory to reflect a vivid example of the learning process from the image below. The cartoon figure clearly shows the potential of the learners to be like the educator, in terms of innovation, critical thinking, and independence. The educator sets the cognitive experience and uses it to influence the behavior of learners.

Freud et al. (1953) suggested that the psychological aspects of a learner, with a subconscious mind, can easily manipulate their behavior. The educator tends to influence behavior determined by the learner’s subconscious, allowing them to control their destiny (Freud et al.,1953). In this context, the educator’s goodwill forms a foundation of inherent goodness that leads to a better world. In the discourse of learning, learners are free to act based on their experiences, revealing their unlimited potential for creativity, innovation, and independent decision-making (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). The humanistic theory motivates learners to rely on their values and needs in relation to their learning process. The learning goals are the driving forces for learners and are typically dependent on their attitude towards issues.

I selected the humanistic theory because it symbolizes achievable outcomes derived from the accomplishments established by the educator. In the humanistic theory, educators utilize their potential to influence behavior and attitudes, thus inspiring learners to diligently follow their steps in finding meaning in life. Consequently, setting an example is a practical necessity that learners will harness in their learning journey.

Considering the cartoon image, the first challenge relative to adult learning has significantly been impacted by historical discourse on racial segregation. This is where the learning process often gravitates towards the superiority complex (Abrahams, 2016). For instance, in America, educators have less interaction with marginalized groups like African Americans or Asian Americans, compared to whites. The appropriate response in this context is to cultivate inclusivity and interaction among educators and learners, regardless of their racial identity.

The second challenge is that educators have instituted a specific form of cultural bias, narrowly focusing on western culture without considering minority groups in society (Gozawa, 2009). It is essential for educators to foster cultural inclusivity in learning experiences through interactive methods to encourage an open community. In most instances, educators tend to influence learners without giving them an opportunity to share their experiences.

The third challenge is the tough condition adult learners face in dealing with social, political, and economic obstacles in society. For example, social development often poses an uncomfortable moment during interactions where learners and educators cannot engage in mutual communication. As Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007) pointed out, postmodernism programs play a critical role in understanding current affairs riddled with uncertainties.

Fourth, the humanistic orientation in the learning process complicates the evaluation of learners’ experiences. This can pose a challenge for educators as they attempt to discern the learners’ experiences (Freud et al., 1953). Strategies such as delivering inspirational speeches can either influence learners’ behavior and attitudes, or fail to inspire them. Additionally, humanistic learning behavior may not be the most suitable method for all learners, as the learning process could be challenging for some yet easy for others. In this case, educators must understand the capabilities of learners to facilitate effective learning processes. Moreover, educators need to assess the learning process continuously and select the most suitable methods to influence learners effectively.


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  2. Brookfield, S. (2005). The power of critical theory for adult learning and teaching. London, England: Wiley
  3. Closson, R. (2010). Critical Race Theory and Adult Education. Adult Education Quarterly, 60(3), 261-283. doi: 10.1177/0741713609358445
  4. Freud, S., Strachey, J., In Freud, A., In Rothgeb, C. L., Richards, A., & Scientific Literature Corporation. (1953). The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London, England: Hogarth Press. Retrieved from
  5. Gozawa, J. (2009). The cultural complex and transformative learning environments. Journal of Transformative Education, 7(2), 114-133. Retrieved from
  6. Guy, T. (1999). Culture as context for adult education: The need for culturally relevant adult education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 1999(82), 5-18. Retrieved from
  7. Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  8. Jaaash. (2009, December 11). Overcoming gender biases in the workplace. [Video file]. Retrieved from
  9. Schied, F., Mulenga, D., & Baptiste, I. (2005). Lifelong learning in a global context: Towards a reconceptualization of Adult Education. Adult Education Research Conference. Retrieved from
  10. Scott, J. W. (1996). Feminism and history. [electronic resource]. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
  11. Witztum, A. (2012). Social dimensions of individualistic rationality. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 71(2), 377-406. Retrieved from

High School After-School Program

In the town of Greenwood, Ms., according to residents, teachers, and parents (personal communication, March 6, 2019), 65% of the high school students at Amanda Elzy High has been trying to deal with the following: teen pregnancy, failure of grades, and bullying/cyberbullying. The high school students are ranging from 9th-12th grade. According to the residents within the community, all of these activities seems to be taking place in the afternoon or afterschool hours. Schools hours are from 8:00a.m.- 3:00 p.m., .and parents don’t make it home from their job until after 5:00p.m.or later. Due to the lack of parental supervision, the youth are engaging in these activities and the decisions that they are choosing to make are effecting their future.

In this particular school district, sex education is not offered in the schools nor the community organizations. If the teens were knowledgeable about the consequences of having sex, the teen pregnancy rate will more than likely decrease in this community. Some of those consequences are sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned parenthood, risks of poverty and etc. According to research, teen pregnancy interventions has been successful for decreasing the teen pregnancy rate. According to Hulton (2007), there is a program known as “Vision of You”, that addressed everything pertaining to teen pregnancy. This particular intervention was implemented into the schools to encourage the students to either remain abstinence or to practice safe sex. Data showed that male students were least likely to practice safe sex as to where female students started to make rational choices when it came to having sex.

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“The Youth Asset Development and The Postponing Sexual Involvement Program” are two other intervention programs that pertains to abstinence. These two programs also educated high school students about the importance of remaining abstinence or practicing safe sex. The data results of this particular intervention showed that students who participated in this program stayed in school and participated in afterschool activities in order to minimize the acts of participating in sexual activity, as well as bullying, and to improve their grades academically activities (Yampolskaya, Brown, & Vargo, 2004). Though these interventions centered around sex education, it is one of the reasons as to why it should be included in the afterschool program.

Not only is teen pregnancy an issue in this community, but so is the dropout rate, substance abuse, and bullying. There could be various of reasons as to why some student’s dropout or considers dropping out of high school. Some of those reasons could be because of teen pregnancy/unplanned parenthood, academic failure, attendance, disengagement, substance abuse, mental illnesses, and financial hardships. According to youths (2019), afterschool programs can boost and enhance the students’ knowledge academically, reduce the chances of teens participating in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, sex, and bullying, promote physical health, and also to provide a safe environment for the children to be in.

With the chances of an effective afterschool program, the behavior of the student could improve as well as the student’s attendance and participation. When it comes to student considering dropping out, it’s often due to lack of exceeding in the classroom or among their peers. With students receiving additional help such as tutoring, they would start to feel more comfortable in the classroom setting. Whether its them working among themselves or with classmates. It would not only help with boost of their grades, but students would feel as if they have support and someone who cares for them outside of the original school hours.

Other things that the youth could benefit from the afterschool program consists of: spending time with their friends while being supervised, receiving education on not only educational knowledge but reality life and/or future goals, participation in extracurricular activities, as well as fitness and exercise. There are many various reasons as to how both men and women would get an advantage from after school programs and why they are needed within this particular community and the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant would be perfect for just that. Investing in our youth is important, they hold the key to our future.

Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Increase the academic performance for each student who may be participating in this afterschool program.

  • Objective 1: The students would be offered one-on-one tutoring with a teacher and/or peer in areas in which they may be struggling academically.
  • Objective 2: Voluntary teachers will utilize effective lessons aligned to the curriculum and that meet students need.

Goal 2: Educate the teens about the importance of remaining abstinence, poverty factors, and the use of contraceptives when it comes to having sex.

  • The school nurse will talk to the teens about risk factors associated with having sex such as STD’s, poverty, and properly use of contraceptives.
  • The students would be informed of resources ton where they could get contraceptives, and also resources for planned parenthood that might be beneficial to those students who may already be pregnant.

Goal 3: Enlighten the teens about the hardships associated with dropouts, teen pregnancy, as well as bullying.

  • Objective 1: Teens would attend the program throughout the entire school year twice a week.
  • For the entire program, motivational speakers, as well as other teens, would come to share their experiences of teen pregnancy, bullying, as well as dropouts to tell how their choices affected their lives.

Methodology and Evaluation Plans

After school programs has become very beneficial to our youth. Our youths are able to improve their grades academically, reduce the chances of them engaging in bad or disruptive behavior, improve their health both physically and mentally, and to also provide a safe place for the children to spend time with other peers and friends during after school hours (Youth, 2019). Though these are all the things that teens benefit from when attending after school programs in general, Amanda Elzy High School after school program offers more when it comes to benefits to the youths.

At the Amanda Elzy High School after school program, it would not only help with benefiting the students by improving school grades, but it would also help them when it comes to making better choices that would be beneficial to their future. This program would address the following: offer tutoring to help students who may be failing academically or to help those who may be struggling in certain area, sex education and/or awareness, and cyberbullying/bullying. With these initiatives being put into effect, the dropout rate, as well as the teen pregnancy rate could be decreased.

For this program to be developed, the social worker, Keria Stringfellow, would create a plan for the after-school program. First, the social worker would request a meeting with the Leflore County School district in order to inform them of what is trying to be accomplished. Also, the social worker would talk to the Leflore county school district about hosting the after-school program at the school’s gymnasium. If the school board approves of the location, as well as the needs of the program and how it would be beneficial to our youth, the social worker will then contact the counselor of the high school so that he/she could schedule a date and time to meet with the students who are 9th-12th grade. Once this is done, the social worker will then start to collaborate with the school counselor in order to get parental consent forms sent out to the student’s parents that will be interested in participating in the program. Due to sex education, as well as transportation and the students staying after hours at the school, it is important that the parents be informed of all the things taking place in the after-school program.

Research Design

This after school program will be evaluate by using the experimental design, pretest posttest-only control group design. Before the program begins, the students would be given a pretest to basically test their knowledge of what they expect to gain, and also for the teachers to know the area of which the students need the most help in. After the school year is over, the post test would be given to see how effective the program was and what the students achieved.

Human Subjects

Next, the social worker will apply for the 21st Century Learning Center block grant. This block grant would be beneficial when it comes to funding either transportation, needs for equipment, activity equipment, food/snacks, as well as pay for the employees who are interested in furthering the education and making an impact on our youth. This program would be for students 9th-12th grade or students who are ages fourteen to eighteen years old. The goal of this after school program is to educate and enhance the students’ knowledge academically, educate the students on sex education and to bring about prevention and awareness, and to also address bullying and offer counseling to students who may be struggling not just academically but mentally.

Study Validity and Reliability

This program would be held at the following location: 1204 Amanda Elzy Avenue, Greenwood, MS 38930. It would be held every Monday and Wednesday for the following school year. The time of the after-school program would be from 3:00p.m. -5:00 p.m. There would be four to five employees participating in the program, as well as volunteers, parents, and etc. in order to make the program a success for our youth. The employees would be Martha Simpson (school nurse), Anna White (school counselor), Joel Sanders (bus driver), and voluntary math, English and science teachers. Other volunteers would be voluntary motivational speakers chosen by the employees.

Each employee and/or volunteer would play a major role in this program when it comes to the beneficial needs of our youth. The school nurse, Martha Simpson, would educate the students on sex. The following things that she would discuss would consist of abstinence, risk factors pertaining to having sex, poverty factors, as well as even ways of practicing safe sex. Some of those risk factors that the school nurse might address consists of sexual transmitted diseases, as well as teen pregnancy. When it comes to poverty factors, the nurse would talk to the youth to explain how if one was to get pregnant, how their future could be impacted. In most cases, teens are peer pressured to engaging in activities that they may not be willing to participate in. In this case, the nurse would encourage safe sex to those who may already be engaging in sexual activities or to those who may be considering having sex. The school nurse will inform them of where they could buy contraceptives and inform them of how to properly use them.

The school counselor, Anna White, would also have an important role in the program. Due to teens experiencing things that may be affecting them mentally, this would be a great time for the school counselor to engage with students to either be supportive and/or encouraging and to also offer alternatives for the things that they might be struggling with. When it comes to bullying and cyberbullying, it’s something that isn’t discussed but something that is happening every day among our youth. Most students go through things that we can’t imagine, so talking to the counselor about these things could lead to the support that the students will eventually need.

The bus driver, Joel, could be a voluntary bus driver who would be willing to offer transportation to the students within the school district transportation home. Some of the volunteers or employees, could be responsible for helping with either giving out snacks, and for extracurricular activities. The extracurricular activities could consist of exercise, basketball, softball, dodgeball, talent shows, and so much more. The voluntary science, reading, and math teachers would be responsible for offering tutoring to the students in the area of need to help them improve academically. Lastly, the motivational speakers would play important role in the program by sharing their experiences of sex, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, bullying and etc. in order to enlighten the students of how their decisions could affect their future positively and/or negatively.

Limitations and Assumptions

A quantitative method that would be used in observation of this program would consist of the pre-and post survey method. Before the program begins, a survey would be conducted asking open ended questions pertaining to what they expect to gain, what they will look forward to and etc. Some limitations for the after-school program could consist of various of reasons. The parent may not wish for the child to participate in the program due to them having household responsibilities that may consist of them watching their siblings or working a afternoon school job to help provide at home. Another limitation could consist of the number of students who will or will not be able to participate in the program

Management Plan

The program would be managed by first accepting the informed consent forms from the parents of the children who will be attending. To make sure that no student is left out, forgot to give the letters to their parents, as well as making sure the parents are aware, the director would call the students’ parents for the ones who did not return their letters. Each child that does attend the program would be given both the pre-and post-test. The teachers and volunteers would be responsible for helping the students to meet their needs throughout the program.

The evaluation Plan

The social worker would first have to have the program and its duties approved, the Institutional Review board such as the Leflore County School District and etc., would first have to approve. In order for the students to attend, the parents must first sign the parental consent form for transportation, after school hours, and the sex based information. The students will be evaluated individually as well as a whole class. The results of both participation, grades enhancement, teen pregnancy and etc. would be based from the results in the afternoon school year.


Though this seems like a lot to have in one program, the activities would be broken down within the 2 hours. The students who participate would be encouraged to share their ideas so that the program would also be a success and a fun educational place for them also. When it comes to motivational speakers, it would be one speaker per month to come to talk to the youth. The success of this after school program would be based off the decrease of high school dropouts as well as decrease of teen pregnancy and number of students who are willing to participate in the program.


  1. Youth. (2019). Benefits for Youth, families, and communities. Retrieved from:
  2. Linda J. Hulton. (2007). An Evaluation of a School-Based Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Program Using a Logic Model Framework. The Journal of School Nursing, 23(2), 104-110.

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