Literacy conference examines challenges for practitioners Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 10:55
For the first time, NIACE partnered with UCU and RaPAL to hold a conference on 9 October to discuss the move to Functional Skills and the development of a unit-based curriculum and pilots to measure distance travelled for some learners.
Speakers at the conference included Professor Lyn Tett and Professor Mary Hamilton who offered their insights and observations from their extensive research. Dr. Susan Pember, Director, FE and Skills Investment at BIS, gave the Government's perspective on the end of the Skills for Life Strategy and the plans for the future.
The conference coincided with the official launch of two new books, published by NIACE, examining the significance of literacy:
More Powerful Literacies examines how power can be shared between teachers and students in literacy education. It also looks at how people can use literacy for their own purposes and therefore access power, and how learning can be promoted as a powerful agent for change, through making sense of the world in order to change it for the better.
In Adult Literacy and Development: Stories from the Field, the authors - Alan Rogers and Brian Street - draw upon their extensive experience in adult literacy promotion in many different countries of the Developing World and the West, to try and understand what literacy means in different contexts and to develop new ways in which the uses of literacy can be promoted.
Professor Lyn Tett, co-editor of More Powerful Literacies, said:
In an information-rich world there is an increasing gap between those with access to information and those denied it. Literacy is an important tool for increasing the autonomy of powerless individuals and groups.
"The growth of a knowledge-based economy and an information society has meant that literacy increasingly mediates our lives and activities. In an information-rich world there is an increasing gap between those with access to information and those denied it. Literacy is an important tool for increasing the autonomy of powerless individuals and groups. Powerful literacies are those concerned with interventions and practices which attempt to enhance the autonomy of learners and communities and their control over their environment. The book shows how learners can be positioned in ways that seek to enhance their control and autonomy.
Alan Rogers, co-author of Adult Literacy and Development, said:
"This book brings together the worlds of anthropology and adult education in the context of international Development programmes, based on work undertaken over the past 20 years and more in a wide range of so-called ‘developing countries'. It provides detailed descriptions of our experiences - 'stories from the field' - and also in-depth analysis of the underlying concepts and the methods involved in making links between these fields.
This book argues that literacy is best seen as a set of practices deeply embedded within the everyday life of all people, including the so-called ‘illiterates' rather than as a universal skill which if learned can transform people's lives (the ‘magic carpet' effect of literacy); that ethnography is a useful tool by which literacy instructors can see what is already going on in the lives of literacy learners rather than assuming that they do no literacy; that learning is best seen as an (often informal and unconscious) everyday activity not confined to a classroom; and that Development can be seen as intercultural dialogue, leading to a greater understanding and enhancement of difference rather than one-size-fits-all programmes to meet ‘needs'."