by Eric Damer
Review of Unearthing Canada’s Hidden Past: A Short History of Adult Education by Michael Welton (Thompson Publishing, 2013).
Ours is a learning society that goes well beyond schooling for youth. Historian Michael Welton adds that all societies are learning societies and always have been. Adults have always learned new job skills, cultivated leisure interests and even tried to change their society to make it a bit more fair, inclusive and democratic. This last activity—learning for progressive social change—interests Welton the most in this accessible account of adult education in Canada over several hundred years. Unearthing Canada’s Hidden Past: A Short History of Adult Education invites the reader to consider not only how adults have learned to adjust to their world but also how they have learned to change it. Welton has a special plea for adult educators to “keep faith with our emancipatory traditions” (p. 229) to tackle some of the pressing problems of our current age.