Monday, July 28, 2008

Local courses for local people

Paulie forwarded this nice little post from an interesting looking blog that I had not seen before. It talks about the importance of local delivery for adult education and is particularly appropriate for the conversation I was having with Larkers in comments here. The key factors for effectiveness are ...
... local contacts, learning delivered through community centres, supported by community workers and local volunteers, with established and trusted partnerships between the college and local agencies. That's based on high calibre creative workers; plus conversations, lots of them, sometimes called networking.
What that signifies is an investment in a community and its people. And it is an investment that, in time, does pay off in terms of participation. Networking builds links and trust between institutions, like universities, and a community that can have see them as hostile, remote or simply 'not for the likes of us'. However, it costs money, it takes time and effort and the effects can be seen, felt, but rarely measured.
Unfortunately, bureaucrats do not place value on apparently-purposeless conversation, because its effects can't easily be measured. Which may be why community education is slipping from crisis into oblivion.
As well as increasingly surreal managerialism, there has been much damage done by the plethora of short-term projects. Just as something gets up and running, the funding runs out and people whose lifetime experience is one of being let down are disappointed once more. Then there is a new tranche of money and it all gets reborn before it, once again, dies through the end of the project and changes brought about by the latest fashionable nonsense. It is the karma of community education.

Long term commitment is one of the keys for extending educational opportunities for adults, as is local delivery. However, there is another factor as well. Many of our educational institutions, especially universities, need reforming to develop a local commitment and a culture that does not exclude. Put crudely, they are still far too far up themselves. And how can they loosen up when all that seems to be rewarded are numbers described in jargon?


Anonymous said...

I think Geddes had a few things to say about the issues you raise in that last paragraph. But Universities "too far up themselves"? Surely not!

The Plump said...

Indeed he did - here's to to the University Militant!