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Friday, 11 November 2016 13:23

Scholarship Inspiration

By | Education
ALBUQUERQUE — Scholars provide inspiration. For Dr. Elana Michelson, Professor of Cultural Studies and Adult Learning at Empire State College, that inspiration came in the 90’s thanks to works from Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding, and Miranda Flicker, just to name a few. She found it difficult to work vigorously all day, and have to go home and write about the Victorian novel. Recalls Dr. Michelson, “these works invited me to continue that work at home. These wonderful scholarships actually talk about works in practice.” Author of the acclaimed Gender, Experience, and Knowledge in Adult Learning: Alisoun’s Daughters, Dr. Michelson invites readers to revisit the basic understandings of the ‘experimental learner.’ Divided into four parts, the book offers readers to develop a new way of thinking about their everyday assumptions, theories, and practices. The book has two main notions. The first being the idea that an individual is an ‘expert’ in terms of their own experiences representing knowledge. Dr. Michelson questions if life experiences can have any sort of academic merit. The second notion questions the manipulations of life experiences. It is a far more complex issue than meets the eye. Those experiences can be manipulated per each person’s perspective. It’s almost as if that experience is put through a lens. The book goes on to question whether or not those experiences are genuine and deserve appreciation, or if they have been manipulated and merit credibility. According to Dr. Michelson, two concepts may be taken away from this book. Those concepts can be represented as the two sides of a coin. On the one side she explains that, “students are already knowledgeable adults.” On the other side of the coin, she illuminates that “ we can’t celebrate experiential learning to the highest degree. People act on gut feelings, and that can be dangerous.” This idea becomes prevalent during this year’s election season. A person acting on their gut feelings on a particular candidate has led to his or her experience in politics being manipulated. These manipulations stem from a combination of emotions and preferences, which in turn causes that particular experience to lose some of its authenticity. Dr. Michelson is one of two authors whose book will be receiving the 2016 Cyril O. Houle Award for Outstanding Literature in Adult Education on November 10 at the 2016 Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The award was established in 1981 to honor Cyril O. Houle, Professor of Adult Education at the University of Chicago. It is given annually for a book published in English within the previous year that reflects universal concerns of adult educators. Dr. Michelson does not have any specific goals in mind with her book winning this award. Above all else, she hopes that people take the time to read it. She also hopes that winning this prestigious award combined with the book inspires future scholarships. Recalls Dr. Michelson, “one hope that many professors have is to inspire student’s passion. That passion may not be what we are necessarily teaching. But if I can cause a student to become passionate about his or her own ideas, then I have done my job.”
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