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Adult Basic Education

The success of all adult basic education depends, first, on instructors’ respect for students’ dignity. Disadvantaged students, who risk enrollment in adult basic education, often associate classrooms with intimidation, alienation, and humiliation. Adult basic education instructors must help their students feel safe, because learning involves risk, mistakes, trial and error, and constant practice—none of which can progress in a hostile environment. Adult basic education teachers must rid their classroom delivery of every word, behavior, gesture, and nuance which suggest patronizing or condescension. Effective adult educators organize their classrooms to mirror students’ work environments, promoting their engagement with the subject matter, helping them recognize correspondence between coursework and everyday life. As in the workplace, so in the classroom: a sense of urgency drives learning every bit as much as it drives production and sales. Adult basic education must deliver maximum learning in minimum time.