Inspired by Freire: From literacy to community. How the ideas of Paulo Freire shaped work in the UK
AbstractThis article reviews the adult literacy campaign in the 1970s in the United Kingdom (UK) and the influence of Paulo Freire’s thinking on how we worked. We argue that much adult literacy provision had been designed to ‘domesticate’ rather than ‘liberate’. The mid-1970s ‘Right to Read’ campaign in the UK rejected this approach (BAS, 1974). The use by tutors of the language and the experience of learners led in part to the publication of student writing, creating reading materials and approaches that were different, and challenging to existing power structures. Emancipatory adult literacy work could not withstand the arrival of substantial government funding in 2001, which brought a new Skills for Life government strategy, together with new teacher-training, new standards and literacy qualifications. Also, in the 1970s and 1980s progressive educators and the institutions for whom they worked developed initiatives which focused on under-represented and marginalised groups, asking ‘who isn’t there, and what can be done about it?’ The result was a renewed development of outreach work, better understanding of what helps and hinders participation, and improved progression routes for individuals. One aspect of this development flowed directly from the literacy work in the 1970s – the participation of volunteers as ‘fellow learners’. Looking at educational work with older people in care homes, volunteers from among local university students acted as co-learners in a charity which illustrates Putnam’s (2000) ‘generalised reciprocity’. We consider that Freire’s legacy emerges among voluntary action as much as it does in literacy programmes.
CitationTuckett, A. and Lavender, P. (2020) Inspired by Freire: From literacy to community. How the ideas of Paulo Freire shaped work in the UK, The Adult Learner 2020 Section 1, pp. 31-49.
JournalThe Adult Learner: The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education
DescriptionThis is an accepted manuscript of an article published by AONTAS in The Adult Learner in 2020. The accepted version of the publication may differ from the final published version.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/