Research, adult literacy and criticality: catalysing hope and dialogic caring

Smith, Rob and Duckworth, Vicky (2019) Research, adult literacy and criticality: catalysing hope and dialogic caring. In: Resisting the neo-liberal discourse in Education: local, national and transnational perspectives. Policy Press, London.

Adult literacy education and criticality - catalysing hope and dialogic caring.pdf - Accepted Version

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This paper draws on a longitudinal UCU research project: FE in England - Transforming Lives and Communities to explore transformative learning within adult and further education and to argue for the place of research in affirming localised understandings of education that cut across the grain of contemporary educational reform. In the context of the dominance of a ‘skills’ discourse in further education in England and the flux of continual policy interventions, this research project focused on further education as ‘differential space’ (Lefebvre 1991) that is emancipatory for many learners at the local level. The research data illustrate that further education can be disruptive of the rigid linearity of the model of ‘learning progression’ at the heart of neoliberal models of education that assesses and sorts individuals according to a qualification/age matrix. Instead, it can offer organic tools for consciousness-raising (Freire 1995) and transformation (Mezirow 2000, Illeris 2013), acting as a hope catalyst for significant changes in learners’ lives and teachers’ practice (Duckworth 2013; Duckworth and Smith 2017).
To support the discussion, our paper draws on a range of learners and teachers’ narratives to expand on the view of further and adult education as spaces for the exploration of a curriculum informed by an ethic of what we term dialogic caring. We also develop a theoretical position that anchors research in learners and practitioners’ experience as an empirical antidote to the simulations (Baudrillard 1994, Lefebvre 2004) conjured up by the decontextualised statistical data (such as PISA) that drive current policy-making. Through the use of the notion of transformative learning, we position critical pedagogy as working towards a model of education with social justice at its heart and against education structures that marginalise women, their families and communities. We also seek to actualise an affirmative research practice that foregrounds and connects with critical pedagogy at the local level as well as providing an understory for neoliberal ‘grand narratives’ of international competition and comparison.
The project is being shared as it unfolds through the Transforming Lives website with the aim of providing a positive web-assisted resource that can communicate the experiences and strategies of critical pedagogy beyond local contexts. Education and research are both then enabling tools that can promote a more equitable and socially just society; they can offer resistance against structures that reproduce marginalisation: the research process mirroring the focus on social justice that sits at the heart of critical pedagogy.

Item Type: Book Section
28 August 2019Published
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE)
Depositing User: Rob Smith
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2019 09:13
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 17:02

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