Adult education and the social economy : rethinking the communitarian pedagogy of Watson Thomson
Chartier, Michael David
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The goal of this thesis is to analyze the philosophy and pedagogy of an almost forgotten figure in Saskatchewan history, whose work has had a lasting impact on the theory and practice of adult education. Watson Thomson, who was appointed as director of the Adult Education Division (AED) by the newly elected CCF government of Tommy Douglas in 1944, initiated an ambitious program designed to animate the citizenry of Saskatchewan, bring a variety of educational services to the common person, and develop co-operative and community enterprises throughout the province. Thomson’s work is significant for a number of reasons. First, I compare and contrast it with the pedagogy of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire. Second, I show that it was influenced by the humanistic philosophy of Personalism, especially that of Emmanuel Mounier. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Watson’s philosophy embodies insights from the depth psychology of Alfred Adler enabling him to advocate a distinctive, dialogical pedagogy. Fourth, his influence as director of the AED was considerable as can be gauged from the fact that within one year of its formation, the division had organized over 500 study-action groups and more than 100 cooperative enterprises. Fifth, Watson’s educational achievements are important not only for historical reasons but as a model for the development of social economy enterprises today, as evidence from a recent UNESCO report shows. The thesis uses an interdisciplinary approach of intellectual biography, historical documentation, and philosophical and psychological analysis in order to establish a comprehensive account of the theory and practice of this important figure.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeMiller, Dianne M.; Gertler, Michael E.; Collins, Michael; Chinnery, Ann
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
Saskatchewan Adult Education Division