Sunday, 3 August 2014

Education as the Practice of Freedom


Just a brief, final post, before I head off on leave before the start of the new academic year.

I was hugely fortunate yesterday to spend a day in the company of a fantastic group of trade union teachers, activists, learning reps and others with a profound interest in adult, worker and trade union education. The event was called to discuss the future of working class education.

And so I must send a sincere thanks to those behind the event, Trade Union Solidarity magazine and Bridgwater Trades Council (particularly Dave Chapple) for organising one of the most thought provoking and engaging events that I have attended recently around this theme. Thanks also to these sisters and brothers for ensuring that Ruskin College was formally invited to speak.

There was some great debate and I was particularly pleased to hear Paulo Freire drawn upon on several occasions by those attending as having influenced their approach to teaching working class adults.  In particular he was cited as informing an approach which inspired formal and informal learning approaches predicated on Freire's notion of education as liberation and the practice of freedom.

I am keen to illustrate the event, rather than provide a narrative, as the images reveal the energy, engagement and insight of the event.

The pictures below are: Bridgwater Trades Council banner, my comrade and brother Mark Everden evidences an ability for manual labour having erected the Somerset Community Defence Campaign banner, examples of the archive of Plebs league material held by Dave Chapple, Dave kicks off the event with a few choice words about the Labour Party (and the left generally) but ultimately underlines the underlying concern around the educational needs of working class children and adults, Carole Valelly (GMB regional organiser) and Andy Newman (GMB Swindon GMB) awarded a vintage labour movement picture for recent successful campaigns), the event is kicked off by trades council chair Vicki Nash with the first panel including Trish Lavelle (CWU) and Marie Hughes (REO South West TUC), the second panel included Nigel Costley (SW TUC Reg. Sec.) who spoke passionately about his own trade union background and importance of language in working class education, I was honoured to join the final round speakers sandwiched between two proper trade unionists Carole Valelly and Becca Kirkpatrick - who now works for Citizens UK followng a long stint as a hugely effective UNISON activist in the West Mids. I was pleased to get the chance to talk about the continuing mission and ethos at Ruskin which centers proudly on the provision of education for working class adults. Final picture is captioned - lost at birth, twins Mark Everden and Peter Martin - found one another again at Bridgwater.

In Solidarity


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