Thirteen new princesses – FE, adult education and dancing

The Princess of Cambridge was born in the first week of May 2015 and – with a bit less fanfare – a new book, Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, was published on International Workers’ Day.

Dancing Princesses

We often hear Further and Adult Education being described as the ‘Cinderella Sector”. It’s easy to see why – hard-working, productive, put upon, poorly funded and often invisible next to (far from ugly) sister sectors in education. This collection of writing from twelve experienced practitioners has a preface by Frank Coffield and takes another fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm as a basis for an extended metaphor, celebrating the sector’s exuberance and possibilities. Here is the publisher’s summary description:

‘Cinderella’ is the dominant metaphor used to describe further education, but this book challenges the deficit metaphor and replaces it with another of the Brothers Grimm’s tales, the ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’. The twelve princesses escape from the room they are locked in to dance all through each night. As a metaphor for teaching in FE, this tale suggests the possibility of subversion, of autonomy in teaching and learning, and a collective rather than individualist notion of professionalism, even within repressive contexts.

Twelve chapters from twelve experienced practitioners suggest professional development that will culminate in a collective, celebratory alternative. They explore the professional aspirations and commitment to social justice of prospective teacher education students in spite of the current ideological context of FE. They argue for inspiration from critical pedagogy so FE can maintain transformative professional space. They explore the impact of technology on learning, and the physical spaces in which teaching and learning are situated. They challenge the prevailing managerialist use of lesson observation and the resistance and collusion of FE managers. And they propose a notion of professionalism that focuses on educational values rather than market forces.

This engaging, accessible and thought-provoking book is essential reading for teacher training courses, postgraduate students, sector researchers, and members of professional bodies and trade unions. If the sector is to be Grimm, asserts this inspirational collection, it should be so on our own terms: powerful, democratic and professional.

The link between dancing and adult education is not unique to this book. Writing almost 15 years ago in the Times Educational Supplement, Alan Tuckett, who is now President of the International Council for Adult Education, said that policy-makers could do well to remember the dictum of anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to join your revolution.”

The book is full of enthusiasm and idealism tempered by realism. It is accessible and based on a wealth of experience. It should stir up debate as people think about critical pedagogy and possibilities at a time of constraints. You can find some early reviews of the book here.

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10 blogs about adult education

There are many excellent blogs about education. Most of those that I’ve come across focus on teaching, learning and leadership in schools and there’s a lot to learn from them, but it’s good to find some that focus specifically on adult education, including part-time adult and community learning.

You can find a list of sample blogs from WEA colleagues in the right hand side bar of this blog if you scroll down the page on full screen versions or at the end of the text on smartphone formats. Some of the blogs are more active than others and they represent different aspects of our work – from tutor and branch blogs to payroll support. Many are informal but ‘weaadulted‘ is Ruth Spellman’s official blog as our CEO.

Here are links to 10 other interesting blogs that are relevant to adult education. They’re listed in alphabetical order of their authors and are all UK-focused unless stated otherwise.

  1. The Learning Professor – John Field is an academic interested in lifelong learning.
  2. Education Post 2015 ICAE – The International Council for Adult Education.
  3. Stuffaliknows – Alison Iredale is a teacher educator working at Oldham College as Centre Manager for the PGCE / CertEd (Lifelong Learning).
  4. JISC Regional Support Centres – (formerly Joint Information Systems Committee) Supports the use of digital technologies in UK education and research.
  5. teachnorthern – Lou Mycroft is a teacher educator, working at The Northern College, Barnsley. This blog links to a ‘Community of Praxis’ and ‘Teachdifferent’.
  6. More, Different, Better – A multi-authored blog from NIACE, the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education.
  7. Working in Adult Literacy – Kate Nonesuch has worked in adult literacy and numeracy for more than twenty-five years, most of that time at Vancouver Island University. (Canadian).
  8. Sam Shepherd’s Blog – Sam is an ESOL tutor and teacher trainer.
  9. The Learning Age – Paul Stanistreet is a journalist who edits Adults Learning, a quarterly magazine for people working in adult education.
  10. Union Learning Voices – The unionlearn blog.

I’ll write a future post listing more blogs about education that are relevant to adult educators but not written directly from, or for, the sector.

Apologies if I’ve missed your personal blog or your favourite adult education blog. Please let me know. I’d appreciate your comments, suggestions and additions.

P.S.

The following blogs have also been recommended via comments on Twitter:

Carol Goody – Carol is an Adult Literacies & ESOL Worker in Community Learning and Development with a local authority in Scotland.

Improvisation Blog by Mark Johnson, suggested by Alison Iredale.

http://azumahcarol.wordpress.com/ by Dr Carol Azumah Dennis, a researcher, writer & teacher.

I’ll add more if people send me links.