Life Experience and Cultural Understanding

Year: 1998

Author: Shearer, Di

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Adult learners in Australia in the second half of the twentieth century have accumulated life experiences and a sense of self which have issued in considerable development of cultural understanding and intercultural interaction. The ways in which individuals process and learn from experience of difference is evident within their biographies. These life stories raise questions regarding agency and consciousness and their interface with constructions of selfhood and identity.

This paper examines life stories of members of so-called dominant culture which give evidence of the impact of multiculturalism and internationalism. It addresses the gap between studies of racism and prejudice on the one hand, and studies of ethnicity and culture on the other, seeking to position lived experience within the context of cross-cultural and intercultural training and its literature with a view to exploring the implications for adult education.