Thomas, Alan

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Thomas, Alan

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  • Thomas, Alan M. (Alan Miller)

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Alan Miller Thomas was born 26 June 1928 in Toronto. After attending preparatory and secondary school at Upper Canada College, Thomas studied English and Philosophy at the University of Toronto and briefly worked in Canadian publishing (as educational representative for Copp Clark Publishing and managing editor of Canadian Life) before pursuing a Masters and PhD in Education at Columbia University. Of his career, Thomas has remarked, “I had no idea what I should become. I fell into Adult Education as a vocation and as a cause. I never looked back. The study of learning as a culture came naturally.” Thomas is the founder and past President of the Carold Institute and has been a professor of adult education at OISE for over thirty years. He was a contributing editor to foundational textbooks on adult education, including "Learning for Life", and has held executive and board positions with the Canadian Association for Adult Education and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Dr. Thomas is perhaps best known for his role in developing Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) in the community college system - whereby individuals can have life experience and non-institutional learning acknowledged within formal educational settings. On his vocation as an advocate of education, Thomas remarked in 2002, “What seemed to me to be the constant was learning itself. For me, then and since, Learning was to Education, adult or child-centred, as physics was to engineering. The more fundamental element. I had begun the voyage, that resulted 30 years later in my book, “Beyond Education” to free Learning from the grip of psychologists, and to explore what has become, the culture of learning.”

He received the Order of Canada in 1982. He was also involved in the National Advisory Council of Voluntary Action and was chairman of the televised project “People Talking Back.”


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See finding aid of B2012-0007 for a timeline of his career.

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