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Can Adult Education be a means for promoting 'Happiness' through quality learning?

Profile picture for user Mahira.
Mahira Spiteri


Can Adult Education be a means for promoting 'Happiness' through quality learning?

Sustainable happiness is happiness that contributes to individual,

community and/or global well-being without exploiting other people, the

environment or future generations. (O’Brien, 2005)




Adult learning is often portrayed as being essential in order to keep up with changes at the workplace. Such changes create the context for the provision of flexible pathways to skills acquisition and personalized career pathing. Adult learning is here valued for its ability to address challenges facing the workforce, such as skills gaps, employee diversity and talent retention, and is considered a must to succeed in a constantly changing world of work. Yet this creates a very skewed perception of the potential of adult learning, in that it portrays it as being instrumental to work demands, rather than the actual fulfilment of learners. What about the potential of adult learning in engaging people in tasks that provide them with fulfilment, energy, happiness and what Csikszentmihalyi termed as “flow”?


Details of the online discussion: 11 July 2018 | 10:00 CET | Dr Vincent Caruana


This online discussion will consider three questions (1.5 hours per question):

Question 1: From your experience what is the link between adult learning and wellbeing and happiness? How is lifelong learning connected with the pursuit of happiness?

Question 2:As lifelong learning is increasingly commodified in the global marketplace, learning has become more of an individual goal and responsibility”. (Gouthro, 2006). To what extent does the emphasis of linking educational initiatives with potential financial gain impact on the pursuit of happiness? Negatively? Positively? Otherwise? Does this create a skew towards individual success as opposed to developing community-based learning initiatives?

Question 3: What is the role of adult educators in thinking through and taking up with our learners complex issues connected with the pursuit of happiness? How can one affirm the role of adult education as linked to the good life within communities and broader social goals in face of the increasing influence of the marketplace?


Dr Vincent Caruana has for the past 30 years been very active in the Social and Development NGO scene, both locally and at a European level, having co-founded Malta’s first Fair Trade Organisation and Malta’s Network of Development Organisations.  He is an established mentor and trainer of various Civil Society Organisations, and is also experienced in project management and monitoring and evaluation. He is also a member of the President’s Foundation for the Well-Being of Society.

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Themes addressed


Profile picture for user ncaruavi.
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:30

In reply to by Mikko Nupponen

I like the insight of linking adult education with "busy doing meaningful things". the central work here for me is "meaning". Interestingly Mezirow had stated that "More inclusive, discriminating permeable and integrative perspectives are superior perspectives that adults choose if they can because they are motivated to better understand the meaning of their experience". 
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Profile picture for user ncaruavi.
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:01

Between 10.00 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. we will be discussing the first question: From your experience what is the link between adult learning and wellbeing and happiness? How is lifelong learning connected with the pursuit of happiness? I am happy to hear your experiences and thoughts on the link between adult learning and wellbeing and happiness. 
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Profile picture for user njuntlin.
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:00

Dear adult educators! My name is Linda Juntunen and I work as a senior programme advisor at the Finnish National Agency for Education. I have always been very passionate about psychology and the debate between a good and a happy life. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, says that instead of only focusing on making depressed people less miserable we should also focus on improving "normal" people's lives. 

Being happy is not a synonym for not having any problems, and in my opinion this is where adult learning and education steps in. You can be physically and mentally healthy, have a job, a relationship, earn well and still not be happy. From my point of view the link between adult learning, wellbeing and happiness is that in an individualistic welfare state like Finland (where people tend to be lonely) we, as individuals, need to pursue towards meaningful engagement through different activities, hobbies and learning in order to be happier. So yes, adult learning can definitely be a means for promoting happiness, and it is doing so every day. But as Brigita has said, some people need a little help in order to see it.
You can check out an interesting TED Talk from Martin Seligman from here. 
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One of the main tasks of the Finnish National Agency for Education is to promote international cooperation and mobility in Finnish society with specific emphasis on education, training and employment. We support international cooperation within the adult education sector by managing programmes funded by the European Union and through the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The programmes facilitate a range of actions, including international projects, in-service training and visits and exchanges for adult education staff. The Finnish National Agency for Education also supports the internationalisation of Finnish adult education by keeping other European countries informed of what adult education has to offer in Finland. We also forward partner finding requests from other countries to Finnish adult education organisations.

The adult education programmes for international cooperation are intended for adult education institutions, their staff and the adult population. Adult education organisations can also benefit from other programmes even if adult education is not their main target.

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Brigita Kruder
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:50

Brigita Kruder, director of Adult Education centre Slovenska Bistrica



The link between adult learning and happiness is direct although same people don’t see it without  little help. Especially elderly people  (60+) need some help with insight. My opinion and experience  shows they live better, happier and healthier life. I strongly believe that social nest  which they gain through learning in community is crucial.

Adult learning on the other hand in strongly connected to high quality of life.  It basically tells us that somebody can afford it, have enough time to  apply it and other sources to manage it.


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Here Maria Idźkowska from Poland, Voluntary Labor Corps, Warszawa - I think that it is important for adult learners that the knowledge gained will be useful in everyday reality, will be spent and will raise the standard of their lives, and strengthens the conviction of social usefulness.
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Profile picture for user RASA POCEVIČIENĖ.
Community Contributor (Bronze Member).
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:29

The link between adult learning and wellbeing and happiness is direct. Lifelong learning is directly connected with the pursuit of happiness. But that it wouldn’t be only words, it is very important, basic conditions are necessary. At first, in teaching-learning process it is necessary to use personal experience of each learner and let them to find meaning in their learning process. Meaning for themselves. they should find this meaning because it is very personal.   Also learners need to know how to learn, how to manager their learning process. This gives them feeling of active participants and also understanding that everything they do and how they do is meaningful gives them feeling of happiness. So learning is directly linked with happiness and wellbeing. 
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Profile picture for user ncaruavi.
Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:17

Good morning all :) I am very much looking forward to today's discussion as moderator. The potential of  Adult Education in promoting 'Happiness' and Well-being through quality learning has been intriguing me for quite some time and today I would like that we explore this together. As Mahira from EPALE Malta has said please start by first introducing yourself. 
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Mahira Spiteri
Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:05

Dear All, We are looking forward to host this online discussion!
As part of your comments we would be grateful if you let us know some details about yourself: 
i) Your country 
ii) Your profession 

Mahira (EPALE Malta)
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