There are many examples in the American history to show that the people have organised various voluntary, cultural, social and political associations in order to fulfill the educational needs of the adults. Such provisions existed since the beginning of the eighteenth century. But the nineteenth century presents a practical view of such provisions.
In 1820 Lyceums evolved a formal system of education for the first time. This system was based on lecture method. This system took the shape of an Education Movement in 1826. This education movement is known as Lyceums Lecture Education Movement.
This movement had spread throughout United States of America before the States Civil War began. As a result of this movement the lectures and discussions extended by the existing churches, mechanics institutes and Philosophical and Historical societies, could take a more developed form.
It was estimated that about 4,000 such groups had been organising lecture and discussion programmes every week. A central organisation had been established to regulate and extend the movement.
New York Educational Efforts:
In 1874, inspired by Lyceums method, Chautauqua adult organisation was established at Chautauqua in Western New York for the first time. This effort is known as Chautauqua Institute Movement.
It was in the form of a summer camp based on Lyceums method. In that camp along with out-door life activities, lectures, discussions, recreation, exhibitions, seminars, concerts, higher education classes, direction in home reading classes and other educational programmes were organised.
Those programmes were full of recreational, attractive and interesting activities. Those programmes ended with concerts and games and sports in public places or parks while moving from one city to another.
The American people took sufficient interest in those programmes. But with the beginning of the First World War, these programmes came to an end and new projects were executed.
Other Adult Education Efforts:
Leceums and Chautauqua movements had their effect on university education too. In 1820, some universities started correspondence education system. In 1892, the Chicago
University tried to educate the adults by organising lectures. It was the first effort and the system was influenced by the British University System. This effort influenced other universities too, and other big universities also adopted the Lecture System for adult education.
During the transition period of the nineteenth and twentieth century, illiterate labourers from Europe migrated to America. Most of the labourers were totally illiterate. So, the problem of making them literate and increasing their efficiency emerged. It was considered necessary to educate them in American citizenship.
As a result, public, community and individual institutions which undertook the responsibility of free adult education were established. Such efforts benefited the semi-literates much and their working-efficiency also increased sufficiently.
In the beginning, the American people were of the opinion that adult education programmes should be organised for only those persons who could not receive any formal education during their childhood or youth and who are engaged in some occupation for earning a living.
Thus, educational projects continued to be planned for such adults and young men. Such conditions continued upto the end of the nineteenth century. Later on, people realised that education was a continuous process that goes on form birth to death and a person continues to learn one thing or the other till one’s death. Therefore, provision was made in the adult education plans for the education of infants, adults and old persons.
Adult education extended by various educational institutions could not be considered as a good system and it was demanded that adult education should be conducted by schools for adults, established solely for the purpose of adult education.
Consequently in 1879, People’s Institute of New York was established to impart an integrated education on the basis of Lyceums method and other social programmes.
Finally, it was declared as an institution of adult education which began after the First World War. For the first time in 1924, an integrated and practical curriculum of adult education was started in Cleveland.
At the same time, Department of Adult Education was established for the illiterate and semi- literate labourers migrating from Europe. It was only after the First World War that institutes of adult education or Lecture Institutes of Adult Education flourished.
It was during this period that financially strong Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, New York, included vocational and social education in adult education. In 1839 Lyall Institute, which tried to arrange lectures on various literary, social and political subjects, was established in Boston.
American adult education developed speedily during the period 1925 to 1950 and subsequent years. During this period not only youths but adults and old persons also were inclined to receive education. The aims of Adult Education were revised and the modern needs were included in it.
An attempt was made to make the individual an able citizen of the country by acquainting him with changes and developments in family, occupations, community, and country and the international affairs along with political, scientific and social changes.
Reading rooms, libraries, museums and night schools were established in almost every city, town and village. Adult education programmes were organised in private, religious and public places.
Adult education movement is an important public movement in America because the American citizen is eager to learn more and adult education provides all possible help for preparing him for life.
The adult education movement provides an opportunity to every illiterate and semi-literate child, youth, adult and old persons to receive adult education during leisure hours after the whole day’s vocational labour. Both men and women participate alike in this movement.
In the beginning the adult education system was something surprising for the foreigners but for them it was a medium for the fulfillment of their creative and functional needs.
Adult education department was established with a view to make the persons migrating from abroad, efficient Americans. This system provides them opportunities for leadership and success in life. Modern American adult education is very well developed.
Besides receiving education in adult education schools, millions of people are utilising libraries, museums, religious places, reading-rooms and radio and television programmes for this purpose.
According to the previously collected data, about 300, 00,000 adults, busy in different professions, were receiving adult education in one school or the other. About five million adult men and women received adult education of the highest level.
Both Federal and the States Governments provide periodical grants for the development and extension of adult education. About 45 States give grant-in-aid for adult education. This aid is only a part of the total expenditure.
According to the Government rules, vocational aid is given to the full-time students in schools and to the adults engaged in vocations. The benefit of this aid goes mostly to the adults. About 65 per cent adults, who out-number the regular students, get the advantage of such provision of grants.
On the basis of the data announced in 1949, out of about three million students, about 2 million adults got that benefit. Apart from vocational grants, all State Governments undertake the responsibility of agriculture, buildings, commerce and trade, etc. and provide sufficient facilities to the adults.
A director of vocational education is appointed for the administration of vocational training connected with adult education. America needs more money, trained teachers and instructors for conducting extensive adult education.
This could have created a big problem. But adult education there is a well-planned and wisely co-ordinate affair. Firstly, whole time trained instructors have been appointed in many States. These instructors fulfill their duties devotedly and extend their full co-operation to the Government.
Secondly, educationists, editors, professional experts, presidents of banks, dentists, skilled house-wives and other experts provide training in their subjects freely with zeal and a sense of service. Mostly, adult education is free there. If there are any fees in some places, they are very nominal.
The adult education system provides educational opportunities to the members of every class of society. Thus American adult education is universal, secular, free and economical.