Even before the increase in partIctpation by adults in education and training in the mid-1980s in the United Kingdom and the development of access and other adult orientated schemes, there had been attempts to develop a professional perspective for 'adult education'. Embedded in the notion of adult education is often the belief that adult learners are different from children and that there needs to be a separate 'theory' underpinning the teaching and learning of adults. During the 1970s an~ early 1980s much debate revolved around the concept r:>f andragogy as the organizing framework to substantiate claims about the different characteristics and needs of adult learners. However, despite many exchanges at both the level of theory and practice, there was little resolution of the question of differences between pedagogy ('the teaching of children') and andragogy ('helping adults to learn') (McKenzie 1977, 1979; Elias 1979; Knudson 1979; Knowles 1979a, 1979b, 1984; Cross 1981; Brookfield 1986). Some of these debates became lost in the realms of semantics. However, they were important in raising the consciousness of practitioners to the theoretical field of adult learning.