In Lindeman’s essay of adult education, he pulls together five concepts, all interrelated. These concepts are power, self-expression, freedom, creativity, and appreciation. In isolation and in excess, these qualities are considered to be abnormal; however, in combination they make up the individual. We learn and develop these these qualities in combination rather than as individual units. In individual chapter, Lindeman describes each quality, starting with the use of power.
“Knowledge is power” ~ Sir Francis Bacon
Knowledge is power, or at least the ability to harness power. The tie between education and power has been with me since my short stay at the Air Force Academy where I read “Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge” by Austin ‘Dusty’ Miller, the quote on the Eagle and Fledgling statue. Power is not only something that education can provide. Power can be useful, or in some cases abused. Lindeman points out that many want to have power over nature and others. However, an excess of power can create an unbalance resulting in corruption and abuse of power. For an individual to successfully wield power, they must work with nature rather than against natural forces. Possessing some power even in terms of self-discipline will help learners have the courage to attain other qualities. You must have power to break the bonds of conformity and standardization.
Self-expression is the capability or power to be different. Self-expression is certainly a valued quality; however, society typically frowns upon self-expression and settles for conformity. Because individuals are so used to conformity or the status quo, they would have to reeducate themselves in order to exhibit self-expression. Emphasizing the value of self-expression is important to society. A homogeneous society is boring. Self-expression helps to keep our society diverse in terms of ideas, and diversity in society helps spark creativity and self-expression. Each one of us has something to contribute to improve our community. Adult education is about developing the idea of self-expression, harnessing the idea of individuality. Recreation and play should be encouraged, even in adults. Recreation may tap into pursuits which lead to happiness. Lindeman also speaks about self-expression in politics and industry, and comments that if we do not seize the opportunity to take action, we will tend to slip into inaction and becomes apathetic.
While you may have the power to be self-expressive, you are still stuck if you do not have the freedom. Lindeman points out that freedom is often misunderstood. Often people believe freedom is associated with freewill or separation from the control of others. Lindeman continues to point out that it is impossible to separate from the larger whole. There is nothing such as absolute freedom. Once again, we must learn to work with nature rather than against it. Each of us are free to create new ideas, as well as, reuse knowledge, ideas, and skills in the development of something original. Lindeman points out that we must figure out what we want, what holds us back, and work to remove those obstacles. We also become free when we realize what we are able to achieve rather than strive after the impossible. Goals can be challenging, but they must also be realistic. Again, he points out that we must pursue education in a realistic setting rather than sterile disciplines.
To do nothing, when we had the power, freedom, intelligence, and capability of self-expression is an opportunity missed. Lindeman points out that many of us are frustrated that we did not follow a dream and pursue our creative side. Because often we have failed to develop our creative side, we end up being boring and uncreative. We have contributed to the status quo. However, it is possible to be creative in all of our endeavors. Whenever we have the opportunity to improve upon the bland and boring, we are focusing on creativity. We must be open to new ideas and endorse collaboration or else we submit to uncreative preconceived ideas. Life will be a much happier place if we look for opportunities to create rather than simply complete tasks with a preconceived solution.
If we have the ability to create, shouldn’t we also have the ability to appreciate creations? Lindeman seems to mock the need for a prepackaged education to appreciate the arts. Do we need someone else to tell us what is good art? Instead, Lindeman suggests we should find out what learners first enjoy about the fine arts before trying to convince them of another’s opinion. We need to help people learn to be honest about their feelings. Some people do not believe their opinion is valuable until first confirmed by others. They can not enjoy anything without first receiving affirmation.
What I have come to learn from Lindeman’s essay is that each person is unique. They have their own experiences, ideas, and skills. We should spend more time creating environments for them to explore and expand upon their ideas in realistic environments, rather than control ideas in an effort to develop conformity. Most great ideas fly in the face of sameness. Many people can draw a landscape, however, Monet, Rembrandt, and Picasso stand out because of their self-expression and creativity. Frank Lloyd Wright stands out because he of his creativity. Edison was not satisfied with the status quo. Neither were Columbus and Armstrong. Dare to be different, dare to be creative. Add creativity to your routine work meetings, think differently, liven up the place.