Eduard C. Lindeman

American educator (1885-1953)

Eduard Christian Lindeman (May 9, 1885 – April 13, 1953) was an American educator, notable for his pioneering contributions in adult education.

Education is life—not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living.
Adult education more accurately defined begins where vocational education leaves off. Its purpose is to put meaning into the whole of life.



The Meaning of Adult Education (1926)

  • Education conceived as preparation for life locks the learning process within a vicious circle. Youth educated in terms of adult ideas and taught to think of learning as a process which ends when real life begins will make no better use of intelligence than the elders who prescribe the system. Brief and rebellious moments occur when youth sees this fallacy clearly, but alas, the pressure of adult civilization is too great; in the end young people fit into the pattern, succumb to the tradition of their elders—indeed, become elderly-minded before their time.
    • p. 3
  • Education within the vicious circle becomes not a joyous enterprise but rather something to be endured because it leads to a satisfying end. But there can be no genuine joy in the end if means are irritating, painful.
    • p. 3
  • Generally therefore those who have "completed" a standardized regimen of education promptly turn their faces in the opposite direction. Humor, but more of pathos lurks in the caricature of the college graduate standing in cap and gown, diploma in hand, shouting: "Educated, b'gosh!" Henceforth, while devoting himself to life, he will think of education as a necessary annoyance for succeeding youths. For him, this life for which he has suffered the affliction of learning will come to be a series of dull, uninteresting, degrading capitulations to the stereotyped pattern of his "set." Within a single decade he will be out of touch with the world of intelligence, or what is worse, he will still be using the intellectual coins of his college days; he will find difficulty in reading serious books; he will have become inured to the jargon of his particular profession and will affect derision for all "highbrows"; he will, in short, have become a typical adult who holds the bag of education—the game of learning having long since slipped by him.
    • p. 4
  • From many quarters comes the call to a new kind of education with its initial assumption affirming that education is life—not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living. Consequently all static concepts of education which relegate the learning process to the period of youth are abandoned. The whole of life is learning, therefore education can have no endings. This new venture is called adult education—not because it is confined to adults but because adulthood, maturity, defines its limits.
    • p. 6
  • Adult education more accurately defined begins where vocational education leaves off. Its purpose is to put meaning into the whole of life.
    • p. 7
  • In conventional education the student is required to adjust himself to an established curriculum; in adult education the curriculum is built around the student's needs and interests.
    • p. 8
  • Too much of learning consists of vicarious substitution of some one else's experience and knowledge. Psychology is teaching us, however, that we learn what we do, and that therefore all genuine education will keep doing and thinking together.
    • p. 9
  • Once the assumption is made that human nature is uniform, common and static—that all human beings will find meaning in identical goals, ends or aims—the standardizing process begins: teachers are trained according to orthodox and regulated methods; they teach prescribed subjects to large classes of children who must all pass the same examination; in short, if we accept the standard of uniformity, it follows that we expect, e.g., mathematics, to mean as much to one student as to another. Teaching methods which proceed from this assumption must necessarily become autocratic; if we assume that all values and meanings apply equally to all persons, we may then justify ourselves in using a forcing-method of teaching. On the other hand, if we take for granted that human nature is varied, changing and fluid, we will know that life's meanings are conditioned by the individual. We will then entertain a new respect for personality.
    • p. 12
  • Intelligence is goodness in the sense that one cannot purposefully or positively experience the good unless conscious experimentation in the realm of values accompanies activity. Habitual goodness lacks dynamic qualities—is in fact not goodness in any real or living sense.
    • p. 24
  • Intelligence is not merely the capacity which enables us to profit by experience; it is the function of personality which gives experience its past, present and future meaning. Habits belong to existence, intelligence to living. Life becomes a creative venture in proportion to the amount and quality of intelligence which accompanies conduct.
    • p. 25
  • Vocational education is designed to equip students with the proper means for arriving at their selected goals. Adult education goes beyond the means and demands new sanctions, new vindications of ends.
    • pp. 47-48

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