Illumination: an adult educator's journey - dialogues with adult educators and adult learners in indigenous Western Australia

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This research explored how dialogue across cultures transformed participants' perspectives on adult education and lifelong learning. I dialogued with ten Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues in Western Australia, all studying or working within Indigenous, adult educational settings. Written autoethnographically, this research explored: (i) Indigenous perspectives on adult education and lifelong learning; (ii) the co-creation of knowledge and understanding through dialogue; (iii) Indigenous perspectives on the Western, linear, competency-based approach to adult education initiatives; and (iv) how my perspective and practice is expanded by stepping beyond my own culture. Through dialogue, moments of significant learning were revealed and revisited. The analysis of the dialogues (all audio-taped and transcribed) involved: field notes, journal reflections; multiple episodes of listening to and reading dialogues; thematic coding and identification. The data revealed that embracing holistic, soulful adult education practices was critical. Holistic referred to an interconnected and relational approach to learning. Soulful referred to principled, purposeful, intuitive, balanced, inclusive, loving-learning cultures. The data suggested that for deep learning to take place, connection to all aspects of the environment was paramount. This connection nourished healing, harmony, individuals and communities. Four specific concepts evolved from the data: the power of story; an equality of difference; the significance of space; and oneness. Through story sharing, new meaning was made of lived experience. We sought to understand lived experience through a new lens. Cultural differences were explored. Beyond difference, in a safe space based on trust, we communed with oneness. Safe space, experienced externally and internally as a place where contrariety was welcomed and not feared, invited participants to explore the meaning of difference. Within the cocoon of safe space and out of a realized valuing of diversity, oneness was born. Oneness, experienced as a transformed awareness of intrinsic connection to a greater whole, spoke of an unbroken completeness where each individual and the environment, in its entirety, were fundamentally essential to this whole. Through this spirit and practice, individuals felt empowered to reclaim their voice. Through dialogue, new meaning was made of life-learning moments. Dialogue provided participants with various ways, not previously considered, of viewing the world. This contributed to the transformation of perspectives. Future considerations and directions for adult educators are drawn from this research.
Bibliography: p. 260-274
Kawalilak, C. A. (2004). Illumination: an adult educator's journey - dialogues with adult educators and adult learners in indigenous Western Australia (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/15620