History of Adult and Community Education in the 1960's (2023)

History of Adult and Community Education in the1960’s


BallState University

EDAC631 Adult and Community Education

Dr. BoChang, Professor

January29, 2023

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Kailah Lee


The1960’s entered with a recession from 1960-1961, with the unemployment rate at7%. In his campaign, John F. Kennedy pledged “to get America moving again”; heprojected 4%-6% economic growth and lowering the unemployment rate below 4%. Therecession preceded the third longest economic growth in the U.S. history, fromOctober 1960-February 1961. Factories moved their productions to automation,leaving unskilled workers who lacked basic education with the inability toapply for other jobs. The FederalReserve started tightening monetary policy in 1959 and eased off in the 1960. Bythe end of the decade, median family income had increased from $8, 540 to $10,770.

(Video) History of Adult Education Final Presentation

Oncein office, President Kennedy and Lydon Johnson urged Congress to increasefederal funding for education, which led to creating new programs. Theirefforts received opposition primarily from Republicans, Southern Democrats, andcommunity leaders concerned about using government funds because federal billsnormally added clauses involving school desegregation. An increase of legislativeresponses focused on educational and training programs for adults that wereunemployed, undereducated, and unskilled were introduced.

The civil rights movement was astruggle for social justice that primarily occurred during the 1950s &1960sfor Black Americans to attain basic rights and privileges under the law in theUnited States. Although the Civil War abolished slavery, it did not preventdiscrimination from happeningespecially in the Southern states. By the mid-twentiethcentury, Black Americans weretired of the violence and experiencing prejudice, so with the support of manyWhite Americans organized an unprecedented fight for equality.


SinceWorld War I (1914-1918), the military played a leadership role in developingcontent, programs, techniques and instructional methods for adults with minimaleducation. During World War II(1939-1945), 300,000 illiterate men were enlisted into the US Army and given a90-day education overview to bring their reading skills to a fourth-gradelevel. Project 100,000 also known as McNamara Folly was initiated in 1969. Thecurriculum, methods, and diagnostic techniques of the project was adopted bycivilian educational programs throughout the United States.

Aseries of Congressional Acts in the 1960s issued millions of dollars in aiding foreducation. This attention highlighted the need for additional adult educationprograms and led to The Area Redevelopment of (1961), The Manpower andDevelopment Act of 1962, Vocational Education Act of 1963, Economic OpportunityAct (1964), Civil Rights Act (1964), and the Adult Education Act of 1966. The objective of each Legislative Acts was toadvance the social, educational, and finances for individuals who were affectedby following a plan to invest in the private sector to stimulate new jobcreation.

TheArea Redevelopment Act of 1961 funded $394 million package, followed a plan ofinvesting in the private sector to stimulate new job creation. Specifically, it targeted businesses in ruraland urban areas, and authorized $4.5 million annually over four years topromote vocational training programs.

TheManpower Development and Training Act of 1962 was a three-year program focusedon retaining workers displaced by technology but failed to improve theconditions. In 1962 the Committee on Education and Labor within the House ofRepresentatives conducted hearings regarding the categorical federal supportfor basic adult education. By 1964, employment was improving, howeverdisproportionately levels of unemployment and undereducated rates among AfricanAmericans and Hispanic Americas adults remained high.

In1963 President Kennedy asked Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill,prompted by massive resistance to desegregation. After his assassination,President Lyndon B. Johnson continued gathering the support needed to get thebill passed. In 1964 passed Public Law 88-352, the Civil Rights Act prohibitsdiscrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national creed. However,adults with little education still had a hard time finding employment. TheEconomic Opportunity Act of 1964 was passed focusing on adult basics education(ABE) legislation became the standard for the Federal Government’s initiativein addressing adult illiteracy. In 1966, Congress passed legislation removingadult education from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and givingauthority to for programs to the Office of Education (OE). Currently, the adulteducation program U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and AdultEducation (ED OVAE) and Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL).

(Video) The History of Adult Ed in America

Influential Factors

Thereare several prominent factors that impacted adult education in the 1960’’sincluding adult educators, programs /organizations, and social events. Paulo Freirewas a Brazilian educator and philosopher.In his observation, Freire shared that education is used by those inpower to oppress, by keeping people in specific social and economic statues. He also blamed it for dehumanizingpeople by not treating them as free. After beingdeported from Brazil, Freire relocated to the United States after for his liberalbeliefs and teaching the poor to read and write in 1964. His teachings inspiredrecession and civil rights events.

MalcolmS. Knowles was an American educator that introduced the term andragogy whichmeans adult education. According to Knowles andragogy is “the art and scienceof adult learning, thus andragogyrefers to any form ofadult learning” (Kearsley, 2010). He iscredited for his influence in the development of the Humanist Learning Theory andthe use of learner constructed plans for guiding experiences. Knowles suggested,adults learn differently than children. His andragogy theory allows adults touse their experiences to create new learning and build upon knowledge alreadyobtained. “Knowles believesthat preparation for learning is related to the relevance of learning to adultlife, and that they bring an ever-expanding experience that can serve as alearning resource” (Pappas 2013).

Organizations and agencies that provided supportto further adult education in the 1960’s were The Adult Education Associationof the United States and National Advisory Council on Adult Education. TheAdult Education Association of the UnitedStates focuses their efforts on continuingeducation and training during adulthood, offer professional andnon-professional adult educators the opportunity to continue the educationalgrowth, promote equitable development of educational services for adults, andcollaborate with international adult education agencies (Adult EducationalAssociation, 1994). The National Advisory Council on Adult Education (NACAE)reports annually on federal involvement in adult education and generalstatistics since 1965. Its primary focus is to provide factual information tothe executive branch and Congress as well as being a reference the adulteducation community. The impact of programs and organizations can be measuredthe continuous enrollment in adult education programs over the years.

Therewere multiple leaders who worked tirelessly to shed light on social change. In his “I have a Dream Speech” Rev. Dr. MartinLuther King, spoke poverty, desegregation, and racial injustice. PresidentsJohn Kennedy lobbied for more education for unemployed adults, civilrights. President Lyndon B. Johnsonpushed for establishing diversified programs that combated poverty in localcommunities, and job training and education.


Thegrowth and acknowledgement of Adult Education in the 1960’s is the result ofthe federal government’s response the nation’s economic recession and civilright crisis. The federal government has the power to make changes at the localand state level by offering financial funding.

Thereare many significant lessons learned from the 1960’s that affected adulteducation. In order to create andsustain a better community of everyone accessible, qualitative, nonbiasededucation must be available to all adults. The federal responded to the needsof the country by establishing legislative reform. The Smith-Lever Act (1914)which matched federal, state, and local funds to help adults who did not haveadequate education understand successful practices of farming, marketing, andfamily and living development. The programs are listed of federal funded basicskills programs. The extension programof this act centered its attention on providing educational services to ruraland urban areas. In 1964, the Library Service Act (1956) released funds tobegin delivery services of library services to economically and sociallydisadvantaged, disable, homebound adults.

(Video) An Institutional and Social History of Adult and Post-Secondary Education in the North

Thefederal government’s response to the Civil Rights Movement and recession wasthe creation of the Economics Opportunity Act of 1964, sought to rectifyinequities of education disadvantages of individuals 18 years old or older theopportunities to develop reading, language, and writing skills to obtain ormaintain employment. Two years later in 1966, the program was moved to the U.S.Office of Education. Within the following years, services of the EducationAmendments for adult basic and secondary-level programs were established in allof the 50 states. “Never before have the social and individual needs of andforces in the U.S. be called so stronglyfor a well-conceived and far-reaching program of continuing education. Inresponse to the needs, adult education activities are growing rapidly,and theyare moving beyond the older vocational and agriculture emphasis….If we are to build upontheseresources,to meet the urgent needs fir adult education, to make possible the ‘GreatSociety’ and capitalize on the present favorable climate, there is however, acompelling need more and better leadership in the field”. -Thurgood Marshall

Table1. Summary of the History of Adult & Community Education




Civil Rights Movement (social, political, education, economic discrimination)

Economic Recession (Poverty, unemployment, unskilled)


The Redevelopment Act (1961)

Manpower and Training Act of (1962)

Vocational Education Act of 1963

Civil Rights Act (1964)

Economic Opportunity Act (1964)

Adult Education Act (1966)

Influential Factors

Leadership: President John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Educators: M.S. Knowles


Knowledge obtained- strong funding provided by the federal government, social justice, and unbiased education for


AdultEducation Association. (1994). Adult education association (AEA-USA)/Americanassociation for adults and continuing education (AAACE) records.

Retrievedfrom: Adult Education Association(AEA-USA)/American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)Records An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

AnAmerican Heritage. (2013). A Federal Adult Education: A legislative History1964-2013.

Retrievedfrom: FederalAdult Education—A Legislative History

Pappas,Christopher, (2013) eLearning Industry.com, The Adult Learning Theory,Andragogy of Malcolm Knowles

(Video) 101 Facts About The 1960s

Retrievedfrom: TheAdult Learning Theory - Andragogy - of Malcolm Knowles - eLearning Industry

History.Com(2023). The Civil Rights Movement

Retrievedfrom: CivilRights Movement: Timeline, Key Events & Leaders - HISTORY

U.S.Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration &Management. (2023) The Legal: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Retrievedfrom: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/oasam/civil-rights-center/statutes/civil-rights-act-of-1964#:~:text=In%201964%2C%20Congress%20passed%20Public,hiring%2C%20promoting%2C%20and%20firing.

Wikipedia(2023) Adult Education

Retrievedfrom: Adulteducation - Wikipedia

ThoughtCo.comAdult Education Associations and Organization (March 2018)

(Video) Kevin Boyle: The OTHER 1960s

Retrieved from: AdultEducation Associations and Organizations (thoughtco.com)


How was the education system in the 1960s? ›

During the 1960s, students from grade school through university-level began studying old subjects in new ways. One of the offshoots of the civil rights movement was a change in the approach to teaching American history. Courses exploring the founding of the United States began emphasizing diversity.

What was the biggest issue of US education in the 1960's? ›

Through the 1960s, the United States had a racially segregated system of schools. This was despite the 1954 Brown vs. Board Supreme Court ruling. By the late 1970s segregated schooling in the United States was eliminated.

How did teachers teach in the 1960s? ›

The role of the teacher in the 1960's was one that was the keeper of all knowledge. The students would memorize information as presented to the teacher, speaking in whole group or individually. A "one-size fit all" strategy was not uncommon during the 1960's.

Where did the US rank in education in 1960? ›

Americans who went to school during the 1960s ranked a respectable 3rd; those schooled in the 1970s ranked 5th. But 16- to 25-year-olds, adults who were wandering America's school hallways during the 1980s and 1990s, ranked 14th. In short, the literacy survey records a simple, steady progression downward.

What did the education Act of 1965 do? ›

The Higher Education Act of 1965 was a legislative document that was signed into law on November 8, 1965 “to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education” (Pub.

How did the concept of patient education change in the 1960's and 1970's? ›

In the 1960s and 1970s, patient education began to be seen as a specific entity where emphasis was placed on educating individual patients rather than providing general public health education.

What did the higher education Act of 1960 do? ›

Reaffirmation of California's long-time commitment to the principle of tuition-free education to residents of the state. However, the 1960 Master Plan did establish the principle that students should pay fees for auxiliary costs like dormitories and recreational facilities.

What challenges did the US face during the 1960s? ›

The 1960s were one of the most tumultuous and divisive decades in world history. The era was marked by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and antiwar protests, political assassinations and the emerging "generation gap."

Why was there social tension in the 60s? ›

As the 1960s progressed, widespread social tensions also developed concerning other issues, and tended to flow along generational lines regarding human sexuality, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, rights of non-white people, end of racial segregation, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and differing ...

What were the 1960s Teach-ins mostly concerned with? ›

The concept of the teach-in was developed by anthropologist Marshall Sahlins of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor during a meeting on March 17, 1965. Previously, around 50 faculty members had signed onto a one-day teaching strike to oppose the Vietnam War.

What were schools like in the 1960s? ›

In the 1960s, Los Angeles schools were, essentially, segregated. Of the 2,500 students who attended Westchester at the time of my graduation, only three were individuals of color. Desegregation changed all of that, and the schools began to mirror the city at large — this is a good thing.

What subjects did they teach in the 1960s? ›

Art, music, natural science, library and singing using the ABC Broadcast books as a guide were a great balance to our other subjects. Physical education, which is just another name for sport, included energetic sessions of folk dancing out in the playground.

Did people go to college in the 60s? ›

FROM THE END of World War II to 1960, undergraduate student enrollments increased by 45 percent. They doubled again by the 1970s, eventually reaching eight million.

Did Americans complete high school in the 1960s? ›

But despite the importance of schools as an institution, educational attainment in mid-20th century America was the exception rather than the rule. According to the Economic Research Service of the USDA, in 1960 over well over half of all students never finished high school.

What percentage of Americans went to college in the 1960s? ›

In 2020, about 37.9 percent of the U.S. population who were aged 25 and above had graduated from college or another higher education institution. This is a significant increase from 1960, when only 7.7 percent of the U.S. population had graduated from college.

What is the education Act of 1963? ›

The Vocational Education Act of 1963 provided grants to states to maintain, improve, and develop vocational-technical education programs. The funds were earmarked for occupations in demand.

What is the education Act of 1966? ›

An Act to provide for the establishment and operation of a National Council of Education for the Republic and of Regional and Local Councils of Education; to provide for the promotion, development and control of schools, educational institutions and services; to provide for the transfer to the Board of Governors of the ...

What was introduced by the 1965 education Act? ›

Details of the act

The Tripartite System was abolished and Comprehensive schools established. Local Education Authorities would maintain control of schools.

What was healthcare like in the 1960s? ›

In the early 1960s, Aaron said, "health care was much less costly than it is today; and there was much less that doctors or hospitals could do for patients. It didn't cost much for a hospital to let a heart attack victim lie in a bed or for a physician to stop by and prescribe nitroglycerin for someone with angina.

What was the most influential accomplishment in nursing theory from the 1950's and 1960's? ›


Hildegard Peplau was a pioneer in psychiatric nursing. In 1952 she wrote Interpersonal Relations in Nursing theory. Peplau psychiatric nurse teaching were widely accepted and thus increased the number of nurse interest in that field of care.

What did the 1970 education Act do? ›


Commencement: 17 July, 1970. An Act to amend and consolidate the law relating to the development and regulation of education, the registration and licensing of teachers in public and private schools and for other connected matters.

What was the impact of the Higher Education Act 1965? ›

So here's what HEA did: It opened the doors to college for millions of smart, low- and middle-income Americans by establishing need-based grants, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans. It also created outreach programs, such as TRIO, for the nation's poorest students.

What is the Education Act of 1961? ›

An Act to make further provision in respect of secondary education; for this purpose to constitute a Secondary Schools Board and a Board of Senior School Studies, to provide for the grant of School and Higher School Certifi- cates and to amend the Public Instruction Act of 1880, as amended by subsequent Acts; and for ...

What does the Higher Education Act of 1965 say? ›

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is a law designed to provide financial assistance to post-secondary students and to strengthen the educational resources of the colleges and universities of the United States.

What was the biggest change in the 1960s? ›

The biggest social changes in the 1960s involved the fight for freedom and equality. Women fought for equal rights and equal pay, Black Americans fought against racial disparity, and pacifists rebelled against the Vietnam War.

What was happening socially in the United States during the 1960s? ›

The Sixties gave birth to a popular culture in film and music that reflected and influenced the decade's social upheavals: the rise of Cold War politics, civil rights movements, student protests, and the Vietnam war all profoundly affected American society and culture.

What was society like in the 1960s? ›

The 1960s was a decade when hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans gave new life to the nation's democratic ideals. African Americans used sit-ins, freedom rides, and protest marches to fight segregation, poverty, and unemployment. Feminists demanded equal job opportunities and an end to sexual discrimination.

What were the social trends of the 1960s? ›

In the United States and other Western countries, the Sixties is noted for its counterculture. There was a revolution in social norms, including clothing, music (such as the Altamont Free Concert), drugs, dress, sexuality, formalities, civil rights, precepts of military duty, and schooling.

What were the 3 main protests of the 1960s? ›

All of the protest movements of the 1960s captured public attention and raised questions that were important to the nation. The civil rights movement, the women's movement, and the gay rights movement demanded that Americans consider equality for all citizens in the United States.

What was the student movement of the 1960s? ›

The student movement of the 1960s rested on the notion of change. Students wanted to end the consensus culture that formed following the Second World War, eliminate racial discrimination and free themselves from the authoritarian rule of the establishment.

What was the youth movement in the 1960s? ›

There were essentially two distinct, but closely related, manifestations of the youth movement of the 1960s: a largely apolitical counterculture of so-called “hippies” (a term of disparagement invented by the mainstream press; the contemporary analog is “hipsters”), and an active protest movement against various forms ...

What inspired the youth movement of the 1960s? ›

Inspired by the success of the civil rights movement and boosted by the money pouring into the music and youth industries, young people in the US and the UK began to think of another way of life, that didn't involve being like your parents. They were beginning to envision what the future might be.

What age did school start in 1960s? ›

In the 1960s there were no state pre-schools or nurseries, so for most children just turning 5 years old, their first day at school was the first time they had been on their own, away from home.

How was reading taught in the 1960s? ›

One of the fads of the 1960s and early 1970s, programmed reading allowed kids to set their own pace, even in the earliest grades. The textbooks were paperbound booklets with each page divided into two sections. The larger one presented questions or problems, while the smaller section listed the correct answers.

What was the school leaving age in 1960? ›

What was the school leaving age in the 1960s? The school leaving age throughout the 1960s was fifteen.

What was popular in the early 60s? ›

Our Ten Favorite Trends From The 60's
  • Afros. Everyone, young and old, had an afro or at least aspired to grow one. ...
  • Barbie Dolls. The sixties witnessed the birth of the Barbie sensation. ...
  • Bell-bottoms. ...
  • Beatlemania. ...
  • Go-go boots. ...
  • Lava lamps. ...
  • Miniskirts. ...
  • Smiley faces.

What student organization was created in 1960? ›

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in April 1960 by young people dedicated to nonviolent, direct action tactics. Although Martin Luther King, Jr.

What age did people graduate high school in the 60s? ›

Reductions in the median age at high school graduation and in the median age at college graduation were generally characteristic of the period 1950 to 1960, according to estimates made by the Bureau of the Census. The median age at high school graduation dropped from 18.4 to 18.1 during the 1950-1960 decade.

Why did college enrollment increase in the 1960s? ›

Perhaps the most significant change that fostered increasingly diverse student enrollment was the expansion of federal student financial aid programs throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.

Which early 1960's movement was made up of well educated college students? ›

The Berkeley Free Speech Movement refers to a group of college students who, during the 1960s, challenged many campus regulations limiting their free-speech rights.

How did education change in the 1960s? ›

The percentage of adults who had completed high school (including those who went on to college) rose from 34 to 41 percent over the decade, and the percentage who had completed four or more years of college went from 6 to 8 percent during the same period of time.

What was education like in the 1960s America? ›

During the 1960s, students from grade school through university-level began studying old subjects in new ways. One of the offshoots of the civil rights movement was a change in the approach to teaching American history. Courses exploring the founding of the United States began emphasizing diversity.

Was college free in the 1960s? ›

College and public universities were tuition free up until the mid-1960s. White students were favored until an explosion of protests across the country, led by groups that included the Brown Berets and the Black Panther Party, forced the introduction of things like Black and Chicanx studies and departments.

Why does college cost so much more now than it did in the 1960s? ›

The cost of college since 1963

Colleges opted to shift more of the cost burden onto students by increasing tuition. Household income hasn't kept up with these increases, so students have primarily turned to student loans to fund their education.

When did the American education system start to decline? ›

In the 1980s, economists puzzled by a decline in the growth of U.S. productivity realized that American schools had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. After rising every year for fifty years, student scores on a variety of achievement tests dropped sharply in 1967. They continued to decline through 1980.

What era has the best educational system? ›

According to popular opinion, the French education system is regarded as one of the best in the world. It is not just the world's greatest but also one of its most successful educational systems.

What was 1960 high school like? ›

There were cliques and drinking and pot and asinine behavior, just like today. But there was also much more respect for teachers (we were scared of them) and authority in general. Discipline was stricter and paddling was still a thing - at least for boys.

Which turning point in the history of the public education system? ›

CONCLUSION. The 19th century was a turning point in American education. The beginning of public schools, school reform and state funding were just a few of these changes. Innovators and reformers sought to make education available to the masses and not just to the wealthy and privileged.

What is the hardest year of education? ›

While each year of high school will have its own stressors, many will say junior year is the most challenging. Junior year can be the hardest for several reasons, but with the right prep and expectations, high school students can make the hardest year just a little easier.

When did US education start declining? ›

In the 1980s, economists puzzled by a decline in the growth of U.S. productivity realized that American schools had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. After rising every year for fifty years, student scores on a variety of achievement tests dropped sharply in 1967. They continued to decline through 1980.

What was the 60's era known for? ›

The 1960s were one of the most tumultuous and divisive decades in world history. The era was marked by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and antiwar protests, political assassinations and the emerging "generation gap."

What was the main trend of 1960? ›

Ponchos, moccasins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed "bubble" sleeves were popular fashions in the late 1960s. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, work shirts, Jesus sandals, and headbands.

Why is the approach called the 60 year curriculum? ›

This idea is called the 60-year curriculum model because it serves lifelong learners from college to retirement.

What was the Teach In movement 1965? ›

What are teach-ins? Teach-ins began at the University of Michigan in 1965 to protest the Vietnam War and subsequently expanded to become a tradition across American colleges and universities. Teach-ins are participatory discussions oriented toward action, typically including students and faculty in conversation.


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