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By Brid Connolly

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The Age of Reason or Enlightenment, in the historical period of the eighteenth century, arrived at the time that Europe was emerging from the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages as we perceive it now, was one of witches, superstition, religion and irrationality. The Age of Reason established the foundation for civil liberties and human rights, the abolition of slavery and the beginning of political movements based on democracy moving towards a model of human progress based on logic, reason and tolerance. However, it is important to understand that these main thinkers were embedded in a traditional white, Western, patriarchal world.

These elements are present in most adult learning contexts, regardless of the subject taught. They demonstrate a multifaceted field, one that is capable of addressing several aspects of the lifeworld simultaneously and capturing the multifarious purposes of adult education. This dynamic interrelationship draws together the scope of adult and community education. I want to consider now the contexts in which the learners encounter these elements, though the learning relationship with facilitators and their reflections on their values and attitudes.

Yet, these groups were very influential in the development of groupwork for adult and community education. They contributed to the THE WIDER CONTEXT OF GROUPWORK 35 pOSSibility for liberation through collective work, in particular. This emerged in both women's groups and gay liberation groups, and so on. In addition, they consolidated the focus on norms and values within groups, establishing the practice of group contracts or agreements. These ensured that equality, respect, tolerance and fairness were part of the group process, while they worked towards their goal.

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