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adults feel they are being cajoled or threatened. This experience may produce anxiety, but such anxiety should be accepted as a normal component of learning and not something to be avoided at all costs for fear that learners willleave the group. There are forms of fulfillment that are quite
unlike those produced by a wholly joyful encounter with a new form of knowledge or a new skill area. It is this dimension of increased insight through critical reflection on current assumptions and past beliefs and behaviors that is sometimes ignored in treatments of adult learning (pp. 285–286).Change TheoryAnother system of thought that has great implications for educational practice has to do with influencing the educative quality of total environments. Concepts and strategies in this system are drawn from field theory, systems theory, organizational development and consultation theories, and ecological psychology.The systems theorists have provided conceptual frameworks for analyzing organizations of all types as complex social systems with interacting subsystems (Cleland, 1969; Kast andRosenzweig, 1970; Knowles, 1980b; Parsons, 1951; Seiler, 1967; Von Bertalanffy, 1968; Zadeh, 1969). Knowles (1980b, pp. 66–68) presents an interpretation of some of the applications of their work for human resources development in one of his earlier works:One of the misconceptions in our cultural heritage is the notion that organizations exist purely to get things done. Thisis only one of their purposes; it is their work purpose. But
every organization is also a social system that serves as an instrumentality for helping people meet human needs and achieve human goals. In fact, this is the primary purpose for which people take part in organizations—to meet their needs and achieve their goals—and when an organization does not serve this purpose for them they tend to withdraw from it. So organizations also have a human purpose.Adult education is a means available to organizations for furthering both purposes. Their work purpose is furthered to the extent that they use adult education to develop the competencies of their personnel to do the work required to accomplish the goals of the organizations. Their human purpose is furthered to the extent that they use adult education to help their personnel develop the competencies that will enable them to work up the ladder of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for survival through safety, affection, and esteem to self-actualization.As if by some law of reciprocity, therefore, organization provides an environment for adult education. In the spirit of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message, the quality of learning that takes place in an organization is affected by the kind of organization it is. This is to say that an organization is not simply an instrumentality for providingorganized learning activities to adults; it also provides an environment that either facilitates or inhibits learning.
For example, if a young executive is being taught in his corporations’ management development program to involve