Marquina Marie Iliev-Piselli

Graduate and Professional Work

Archive for January, 2011

#1 Adult Learning and Education

My books for this course arrived sporadically and I read them in the order in which they arrived; first Freire, second WH, then third MCB. I mention this because the order in which I was presented these learning methods has resulted in giving me a feeling of ‘coming full circle’ on the idea of how adults learn. I did not need to read Freire for this assignment, but since I had only this book for the past 2 weeks I completed it. Now, I can’t comment on the other texts without thinking of topics of power, agency, knowledge and ‘oppression’.

Before reading Freire, I had never heard of him except for last year when a TC student recommended this book. Where I’m from in Michigan, there are several well-known educational institutions (Eastern Michigan University, for example) and many of them are known for their education programs, and yet it seems that no one had Freire as required reading.  I won’t be a spoiler for others in the class who haven’t read the book yet, but it certainly challenged me to look at our educational system more critically. It is from this mindset  – uprooted from my comfortable ideas about the goal of ‘education’; thinking about class, race and power – that I started reading WH’s Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education.
After reading Friere, the text seemed ‘heady’ and disconnected from individuals’ reasons for learning and actual learning experiences. As I read, the text described theories such as Critical Reflection and Informed Action, and I kept questioning who the intended learners were expected to be? Both our required readings for 2/1 touched on the fact that the 1960s and 1970s were a time when growth, change and education were stylish. People were expected to want to expand and stretch their own boundaries. Thus, the context in which people were writing about adult learning is important to consider. Most of the learners in the education system where middle class or upper middle class. This class structure was not adequately addressed, even when the authors attempt to “‘denatrualize’ what many have called our ‘common sense’ or what wer prefer to thin of as the values, norms, beliefs, experiences, and traditions shaping how we understand our acting.” (WH, pg 27) Much of the text discussed ‘Critical Reflection’ as a view of market realities and capitalism (pg. 35) and I was continually thinking back to ideas in Friere. I was continually asking myself who was being taught? What was their background? Why were they interested in learning?
This evening the final book, Learning in Adulthood, arrived. I was relieved that the models  presented in this text were able to transition my skeptical attitude leftover from reading the Handbook, and give me the confidence that adult learning theory is certainly grounded in thinking about the context and life situation of the learner. I enjoyed considering McClusky’s load vs. power model and considering ways in which an individual could alter the ‘balance’ in their life. In the end, I do not agree with McClusky’s theory and believe that desire to learn has as much of an influence as the balance of load vs. power. Someone who has the desire to learn will be more likely to seek out and retain new information than someone who simply has enough time (low load) and a lot of power (money to purchase Italian language lessons, for example). I enjoyed that this text was focused more on process. For example, on p. 101 the Transformation of the Person Through Experience seemed to make total sense to me.
In all, I know that the themes addressed in the readings are just the beginning of our quest to understand adult learning theory. These are my initial reactions as I try to work through my thoughts and feelings about topics of class, power, race, gender, etc. and think about how these elements affect education and learning. With all this going on in the background and, much of the time, out of our control I am left thinking ‘How can we effectively and consistently engage learners when there are so many factors involved?’ At present, I have mostly questions and look forward to working through them in an attempt to find solutions to present day problems.


Merriam, S.B. and Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2006) Learning in adulthood. John Wiley and Sons.

Freire, P. (2000) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum Publisher

Wilson, A.L. and Hayes, E. (2000) Handbook of adult and continuing education. Jossey-Bass. (


Digital Proposal for Hollaback iPhone App Extension



I’m a second year student at TC obtaining an MA in Instructional Design and Media. I work full-time building Facebook applications at an NYC-based startup called Odyl ( I’m interested in mobile apps and serious games. I’m a founding member of the TC iPhone Development Group (TCiDG), have been a Research Assistant for Prof Joey Lee researching games for change, and have been a Teacher Assistant for iPhone boot camp with Prof. Cameron Fadjo.
Overall, my goal is to build apps for education and I am specifically interested in building educational games for adults. I have a couple of game ideas in the works and hope knowledge gained in this course will strengthen my research-based game design prototypes.
On a more personal note, I attended undergrad at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, my hometown, and currently live with my husband in Brooklyn. For fun, I think up kooky game ideas! but I also like to sing karaoke and compete in air guitar competitions. 🙂