I have spent nearly twenty years working in adult and community education: as a community worker, a community education tutor and, latterly, a teacher educator working on higher education programmes, including degree programmes, in a further education setting.
I have developed and operated a pedagogy of social purpose education; not just because it’s ethically sound but because it’s effective, by any measure. Students achieved way beyond their initial aspirations, because we engaged with them as adults and equal thinkers. Ofsted regularly praised our achievements and the way in which values were threaded through ours’ and our students’ practice. A remarkable feature of our programme was that the in-service ‘trainees’ were all working, paid and unpaid, in non-traditional contexts – as community workers, drugs workers, family support workers, trade union tutors and much else – with people at the margins of our society. They were genuinely changing their lives by taking equality and critical thinking techniques into their practice.
Although education for social justice may be unusual in today’s adult and community education, it is not utopian. With further education firmly back in the news on the back of many crises, it is time to take a closer look at neglected practices which enable students to grow in confidence, persistence, independence and achievement.
Fees are negotiable, and reasonable.