Adult education expert Violet Malone was born on March 21, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois. Originally from Mississippi, Malone’s mother, Mary, worked as a nurse and her father, Harold, worked as a clerk. Malone attended Chicago private schools throughout her elementary and secondary education years. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with her B.S. degree in education in 1961 and graduated with her M.A. degree from Chicago State University in 1964. Malone earned her Ph.D. when she graduated from Florida A&M University in 1973.
Malone became a certified teacher and began teaching in the Chicago public school system in the early 1960s. By the end of her first year, Malone applied to teach summer school. However, due to the unavailability of summer teaching positions, she was forced to work as an instructor for an adult education class. The adult education class, taught by Malone, consisted of twenty people, speaking eight different languages. Malone used an innovative teaching approach, including the use of board games, to teach her class enhanced learning skills. By 1968, Malone became the director of guidance services for Chicago’s adult education program, and from 1970 to 1971, Malone was the director of admissions for Kennedy-King College.
In 1972, Malone was hired by the University of Illinois at Chicago as an associate professor and master of its extension education degree program. Malone’s status at UIUC earned her the title of state leader of extension education in 1977. In 1980, Malone was one of two finalists applying for the position of associate dean in the college of continuing education at Northern Illinois University. That same year, Malone was awarded a six month sabbatical to work on an adult education textbook series. In 1989, Malone was the author of Train the Trainers Manual and in 1990, she was the author of Train the Trainers Handbook for Water Resources Managers.
Malone was hired as a professor and chair of the education administration and foundations department at Western Washington University’s Woodring College in 1991. In 1994, Malone transitioned to the higher education department at Western Washington University Woodring College of Education as a professor. Malone was invited to Istanbul, Turkey as a presenter in a conference on experiential learning and interactive teaching in 1995. The following year, she lectured at a conference on experiential learning and case studies in Amman, Jordan. Then, Malone was named to the Adult and Continuing Education Society International Hall of Fame in 1999. Malone continued to work at Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education where she continued to have an impact on lifelong learning until her death on February 2, 2008 at the age of 72.
Malone was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 27, 2007.