The message or the bottle? Community, associationism and adult learning as “part of the process of social change”
Raymond Williams argued that the “the impulse to adult education” was never solely focused on “remedying deficit, making up for inadequate educational resources in the wider society” (Williams, 1983, in McIlroy and Westwood (Eds), 1993, p. 257). Nor was it primarily a response to “meeting new needs of the society”. This chapter argues, as Williams did, that adult education has to be more than “the bottle with the message in it, bobbing on the tides and waves of history” (ibid, p. 255), springing urgently, instead, from the “the desire to make learning part of the process of social change itself (ibid, p. 257).
Williams’ assertion suggests that Adult Education’s political purpose comes through the lens of community and associationism and their contribution to an ‘ethic of service’ and to social justice. Concepts such as ‘social mobility’ and ‘aspiration’ are politically freighted ideas which mask real knowledge dispossession and social precarity. This chapter explores the important role adult education can play in ‘left behind’ communities in the grip of decline, focusing on the role of residential colleges and also non-formal, family and community learning in engaging at community level with those who have no overt ‘voice’ in the political system. Finally, the chapter explores the role of adult education in consciousness raising and in the construction of ‘resources for a journey of hope’, examining how awareness of community history and labour struggles have provided continuity and resilience in times of escalating turbulence.
|Publication Date||Dec 18, 2018|
|Book Title||Being an adult learner in austere times : exploring the contexts of higher and community education|
|Institution Citation||Clancy, S. (2018). The message or the bottle? Community, associationism and adult learning as “part of the process of social change”. In E. Boeren, & . N. James (Eds.), Being an adult learner in austere times : exploring the contexts of higher and community education, 47-70. Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-97208-4_3|
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