Modernist expert to postmodernist innovative cultural hermaneutist : a journey in adult education : a thesis submitted to Massey University (Wellington) in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education (Adult Education)
The repercussions of the turbulent years of the greater part of the twentieth century have been responsible for the demise of both the Enlightenment project and the modern period which was its bearer. This modern period was characterised by legitimising grand metanarratives (récits) that were built on the foundations of rationality, optimism and progress in which reality was represented, understood and lived. Human emancipation was expected to be the ultimate goal. An impressive modernist representative of these metanarratives in the field of my own academic expertise, theology, is the German philosophical theologian, Paul Tillich (1886-1965). His "theology of culture" was a significant theological adult educational project in which he had attempted to represent and convey reality (and meaning) to a generation of adults in the postwar era of the 20
century. Postmodernism has come to be characteristic of our experience of the world and our present worldview. It questions the legitimacy of the modernist project and along with it the modernist approach to education. In the context of discussing self-directed learning and its application in my own role as an educator, in this thesis I use Paul Tillich's "theology of culture" as an example of a collapsed modern metanarrative to examine how the educator as an "innovative cultural hermeneutist" would better reposition his/her role as an adult educator in the present.