When you think about it a huge amount of resources go into adult community education, community consultation and small business support as well as professional development within large organisations.
In so many ways we deal with the need to ‘educate adults’. On the web you can find many Council manuals (pdf) for community consultation and the Local Government Act says Councils have to consult BUT,
www.worldwatch.org reports that people see vibrant, liveable communities, family farms, independent local businesses, community newspapers, local artists & craftspeople, entire eco-systems disappearing and want to do something to preserve the world we’re passing on to our kids. They want a more personally fulfilling & socially responsible way to business success AND they are learning how to do this in the local community context.
All of the above start with a small local group influencing others by word of mouth.
Currently there is a National Reform Agenda underway for COAG as the vocational training and education system faces a number of challenges to meet the increased demand for higher level skills and to provide training opportunities for unqualified adults.
Adult Learning Australia agrees that the community sector should work as an ‘outreach arm’ of Vocational & Technical Education using its community linkages to engage adults into the system. It says the community sector can strengthen the pathways from non-formal learning to formal training in workplaces and the community ..and these will be ‘more valued than in the past’.
BUT it seems these ‘engagement’ skills are not ‘named’ as ‘general transportable skills’ by the education industry though they should surely be part of an educator’s professional development.
Helen Sheil, after years of research and community engagement projects, has developed nine strategies for collaborative adult education based on social justice and ecological sustainability. They reflect and amplify what is happening ‘out there’.
Helen can be contacted through PWF.
– Ask and listen. Be a partner. Develop language. Respect differences. Be vulnerable and humble.
– Change takes time. Trust takes time. Personal and community development takes time.
– Safe environment. Share dreams.
– Support don’t direct. Nurture. Develop skills/knowledge.
– Gatherings. Newsletters/chat lines. Radio. Invitations/visits.
– Open and generous. Mutual development. Working together. Group participation.
– Implementing change. Learning skills. Being responsible. Celebrating the milestones.
– New confidence and involvement. New stories. New language.
– Constructively evaluate. Grow stronger. Include others. Use process to educate.