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ACAL Conference - 3, 4, 5 October 2019 - Sydney


Thursday 3 October Pre-Conference:

Weaving a richer narrative of adult literacy and numeracy- a workshop led by Professor Joe Lo Bianco

The aims of this workshop are:

    To discuss the power of alternative narration of the lives and educational experiences of adult literacy and numeracy students
    To inject into the eco-system of public policy for adult literacy and numeracy accounts of the lived experiences of adult literacy and numeracy participants
    To enrich public understanding of the field
    To support a culture of participatory and inclusive education for adults
    To influence national discussions as well as public policy to generate a richer, collective narrative about the individual and social benefits of adult literacy and numeracy development
    To reflect the multilingual and multicultural character of the Australian workforce and future workforce in understandings of skills planning and economic projections
    To represent the struggles experienced by learners, teachers and providers in meeting needs more accurately and wholistically
    To bolster the aspiration for adult literacy and numeracy education as an enduring public good in the context of rapid changes in employment, technology and economic transformation which will require ongoing and greater public investment in education and training for all ages.
    To contribute to Goal 4 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

Public policy relies heavily on statistical representations of the shortfalls in the communication abilities (especially English literacy and numeracy) of the actual and potential workforce in the Australian economy. These representations are buttressed by the vast effort of data collection from the ABS and OECD and endlessly circulated in mainstream and specialist media. One effect is to channel the discussions of policy towards limited understandings of ‘the problem’ of adult literacy and numeracy needs and to camouflage the agency, experiences, needs and perspectives of adult literacy and numeracy students. This pre-conference workshop will be a working conference where practitioners share their learners’ and their own stories to contribute to a richer, collective narrative about the individual and social benefits of adult literacy and numeracy development; the struggles experienced by learners, teachers and providers in meeting needs; and our aspirations for adult literacy and numeracy education as a public good. Practitioners are encouraged to bring examples of stories that their learners have written about their life/ educational journeys.

Places are limited – please register now if you plan to participate.

Conference Friday 4 October and Saturday 5 October

Arch Nelson Address
Bob Boughton (UNE)
Arch Nelson and the end of the ‘great tradition’

Arch Nelson’s life, which spanned almost the entire twentieth century, can teach us much about the development of adult education during that period. Born in 1911, he initially became a school teacher, before completing a degree at the University of Adelaide, where he was taught by one of Australian adult education’s founding fathers, Gerry Portus. When World War 2 broke out, he was recruited by another of the field’s founding fathers, Bert Madgwick, to the Army Education Service. In 1955, Madgwick invited him to join the University of New England’s adult education program, where he worked until his retirement. After that, he took on the role of Chairman of ACAL, a position he held almost until he died, in 1998. When Nelson reflected on his own life, in his memoir written in the early 1990s, he looked back on a ‘golden age’ of liberal adult education. Like Jack Mezirow, the US founder of transformative learning theory, Nelson and his university adult education colleagues believed in a world made rationally, through reasoned dialogue among equal citizens. They worried about adult illiteracy, as they called it, because a better educated and more literate adult population was needed to build a more democratic, peaceful and equal world. In 1950s and 1960s Australia, however, as the Cold War took hold, their commitment to the established order of things required them to uphold the view that such a democracy could only be built within a capitalist economic system. So, while they read Paulo Freire and attended international meetings with the many radical anti-colonial leaders of the time, they chose not to bring the revolution home. Today, as we reach the end of the second decade of the 21st century, ecological disaster, resource scarcity, unrelenting wars, massive population displacements and rapidly growing inequality compel an urgent rethink. What does university adult education today have to offer the 800 million people around the world who have not even had the most basic education, the people who cannot read and write in an official language of their own countries? To build a practice and a theory which can take us forward, I argue we must to put the liberal tradition aside, and connect instead with the tradition of adult education for revolutionary transformation, led now as it always has been, by the popular education movement of the Global South.

Keynote Speakers:
Roslyn Appleby (UTS), Professor Dr Anke Grotlueschen (Hamburg University),
Professor Ralf St. Clair (University of Victoria, Canada) and Amy Thomas (UTS).

Conference Sponsors, Supporters and Exhibitors

in partnership with the School of Education
University of Technology Sydney