Adult education, mental health, and democracy are all issues that need to be addressed.
Readers reply to an editorial in the Guardian about the importance of adult education in society and the risks it faces.
Your leader is correct in his criticism of recent cuts to adult education and part-time study opportunities (The Guardian view on adult education: bring back evening classes, 21 March). He has a variety of negative effects, not just for potential adult learners but also for society. Critical liberal adult education is one important part of education that has almost vanished—a dynamic, participatory democracy that necessitates a well-informed, socially conscious, and tolerant population. As a result, adult education is a critical component of civic society.
Raymond Williams suggested a few years ago that the major role of the adult educator is to “critique the dominant common sense.” The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) and other such organizations and university extramural departments provided the space where he could offer such important education – most of it for adults who had had no possibilities for education since leaving school at the minimal age. Furthermore, such significant works as EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class evolved from this symbiotic partnership between adult pupils with rich life experience and instructors with academic expertise.
We are in civilization, democracy unless and until we develop critical, “social purpose” adult education inappropriate modern forms.
Your argument in your editorial on adult education was correct in that it focused on boosting literacy and reskilling training. It is that tutoring is critical for developing leisure skills. For some, being on furlough pay has been mentally damaging, but think what it’s like to retire on a lower salary. I was lucky that, in my 30s and 40s, I experimented with painting (I didn’t have much color sense) and pottery (the clay wouldn’t remain where I put it) without investing money in equipment because a huge community shared it. Following that were sculpture, woodworking, and metallurgy, as well as wine sampling. Now that I’m retired, I can expand on these abilities by writing, playing music, and taking photographs. Lockdown? It went unnoticed by me. However, it is critical for future generations’ mental health to provide leisure skills as subsidized topics in evening sessions for everybody.
Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, Donald Hawthorn
I taught Norwegian in evening classes in London, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Sunderland during the 1980s and 1990s. Some came for familial reasons, some for a job, but many came after meeting Norwegians while on vacation. It is not required to learn English because practically all Norwegians speak it. Still, they wanted to communicate with their friends in their language and better understand their culture.
For many of my pupils, this was the first time they had experimented with other sounds, ways of expressing themselves, and, most importantly, different perspectives on things. They liked studying, gaining confidence, and interacting with Europeans and the rest of the world. Cutting evening sessions have resulted in a significant increase in the country’s insularity and ability to think critically.
St Albans’ Dee Thomas
It was wonderful to see your commentary about the advantages of lifelong learning. For nearly 200 years, we at Birkbeck, a constituent college The only constituent college with a part-time focus at the University of London has been established. We are following this objective — assisting working Londoners through evening teaching. We know the government has heightened awareness of this issue through the “Skills for Jobs” white paper, but part-time higher education still needs more assistance. With an increasing number of graduates. He could entail part-time study at a level similar to the one they already have. To that aim, in the upcoming expenditure review, we would like to see the government increase its support for part-time study through the strategic priorities grant. Everyone will have more options and choices as a result of this.
David Latchman, Ph.D.
Vice-chancellor, University of London’s Birkbeck
As a long-time adult education (creative writing) tutor, I’d like to add another crucial factor: the value of bringing retired people together with others, exchanging ideas, and exercising their minds. Many students were withdrawn; their teachers had told us that they were bad at writing for a long time, and we’re now eagerly Some were taking a much-needed weekly respite from caring obligations. Others were exercising their imaginations for the first time, and some were writing their life histories.
The benefits of this transcend far beyond employment, which the government’s adult education reforms in the 1990s wanted us to focus this. As you mentioned, this most likely resulted in greater health savings. I used to believe that these wonderful people were safeguarding their mental and possibly physical health by attending my lectures. I want to emphasize that I’m still grateful for the opportunity to work with them.
Reading, Berkshire Lesli Wilson
Your commentary on adult education emphasizes the essential need for programs in various contexts for adults who have previously had limited educational possibilities.
Many projects focused on developing this offering before substantial cuts in all forms of adult education.
For example, between 1982 and 1986, the adult education department at Leeds University hosted 343 “courses” with 4,000 participants. These were conducted in various locations, including community centers, church halls, and working men’s clubs, and were organized with working-class groups in Leeds, Bradford, and later Teesside. Unemployed people, older adults, women, and people of color were all given courses. These activities were heavily influenced by community groups, local voluntary organizations, and tenants’ associations.
We established regional day schools and national residential courses due to close ties to the TUC’s network of 210 Unemployed Workers’ Centres (held at Ruskin College for many years).
In the 1980s, education for the “missing millions” was a major concern. It’s a pity that it’s even more important now.
Kevin Ward is from Leeds.
You mention the decline of adult education in your speech and emphasize its relevance in giving people a second chance.
I grew up in Risca, a little town in South Wales with a vibrant adult education center called Oxford House. In 1972, it served 1,600 students as a social, cultural, and educational hub for the community.
Adult education course financing became increasingly reliant on their leading to certificates, which most adult learners were not seeking. They eliminated many general interest classes.
Adult education must go beyond “skills” training if it is to be revived. It needs to rekindle that desire to learn for the sake of learning.
Calne, Wiltshire’s John Boaler
“Hear! To your leader, I say, “Hear!” Once a week in the early 1960s, I taught French conversation evening sessions at Risinghill School, run by the now-defunct ILEA.
The cook explained the mouth-watering dishes, the miner talked about his life in the mines, and the cleaner told us about the interesting habits of the people who lived in the houses he cleaned. Charles, a Frenchman who spoke fluent and better than I did, entertained us with stories about the Lawrence family, the cook explained the mouth-watering dishes, and the miner talked about his life in the mines. The cleaner told us about the strange habits of the people who lived in the houses he cleaned.
We enjoyed the heady mix of sex, cuisine, politics, and social mores, and I hope they felt like their French improved!
Teddington, London, Eva Tatchell
Rather than attending a traditional university, I trained and worked as a nurse and midwife throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. But, thanks to the amazing Open University, I was able to obtain a degree in a wide range of social science disciplines at a low cost.
I recently studied Future Learn, a completely free branch of the Open University, and highly suggest it. Again, a wide choice of disciplines in the arts, sciences, and other fields; short courses, completely free intriguing features – the ability to correspond with tutors and students from all over the world who are doing the same path. Students can purchase a certificate of achievement for a small fee once they’ve completed the course.
Following numerous prior climate change-related courses, I recently completed a study on sustainable futures to understand Cop26 in November better. Sign up for Future Learn if you’re still in lockdown and searching for something practical, fascinating, and relevant to today’s world. Just look it up on the internet.