A Secure Base for Adult Learning: Attachment Theory and Adult Education
Fleming, Ted (2008) A Secure Base for Adult Learning: Attachment Theory and Adult Education. The Adult Learner, 35 . pp. 33-53. ISSN 978-0-906826-27-0
The attachment theory of John Bowlby has had an enduring impact on our understanding of child development. But these ideas are a neglected and forgotten discourse in adult education. In this paper concepts such as secure and insecure attachments, internal working models, and the strange situation along with the more contemporary concept of mind-mindedness are explored. The paper also explores the implications for how adults deal with new situations and new ideas; how adult learners and teachers are influenced by their own attachment styles and internal working models. These models are interpreted as strategies that adults employ for dealing with stress, anxiety, change and the challenges of teaching and learning. In addition, the implications of these concepts for understanding transformative learning are identified and changing internal working models is proposed as a form of transformative learning. This paper outlines Bowlby’s main ideas, with a focus on recent research findings and, by extrapolation, reframes our current understanding of adult learning. The ideas presented here are not usually part of adult education debates but may provide useful insights for facilitators of adult learning and personal development.
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