Learning Trajectories, Violence and Empowerment amongst Adult Basic Skills Learners offers deep insights into the lives of marginalised communities and the link between learning, literacy and violence, not previously carried out in-depth in a small scale study. It breaks the negative stereo-types of adults who struggle to read and write, who are often labelled and stigmatised by dominant discourses, and in doing so exposes why and how Basic Skills Learners often find themselves in marginal positions. The structural inequalities many face from childhood to adulthood across the private and public domains of their lives are revealed and probed, thus challenging neo-liberalism claims of an apparently egalitarian social field. The learners’ narratives expose the contradiction, complexities and ambivalences they experience in their daily lives, and how they try to make sense of them from their structural positioning as basic skills learners in a society based on inequality of opportunity and choice.
Applying a feminist, qualitative, longitudinal, ethnographic and participatory approach, the book offers a critical perspective, drawing on Bourdieu’s work as the theoretical framework, as well as using a range of feminist, sociologists of education, literature on the ethics of care and critical literacy pedagogy, including the New Literacy Studies. The author’s personal position as an ’insider’ with ‘insider knowledge’ of marginalised communities is also woven throughout the chapters and offers insights into the struggles, conformity and resistance faced by the participants in the study.
The book contributes to the debate on the impact of violence on learning and its link to class, gender and basic skills as well opening up a discussion on the power of a critical curriculum to empower people across the domains of their lives. It will be valuable reading for trainee teachers, teachers, education and sociology students, postgraduate students, as well as literacy specialists, researchers, academics, policy makers and managers of public services.
Table of Contents
1: Overview of the Book 2: Social Class, Gender and Basic Skills Revisited 3: Theoretical Framework 4: Method: Research Design Methodologies 5: School as a Site for Violence and Trauma 6: Home Life, Identity and Learning in Childhood 7: The Public Field of Work 8: Violence in the Private Domain 9: Literacy and Transformation 10: Conclusion
Vicky Duckworth is Senior Lecturer and MA co-ordinator in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) and Schools’ University Lead at Edge Hill University, UK.
'This is an innovative text in its exploration of the learning experiences of people in marginalised communities. It combines scholarly analysis with what Dadds (1995) calls the "passionate inquiry of the educator who is committed to researching and improving his or her practice". A further acheivement of Learning Trajectories is its challenge to the simplistic discourses of the knowledge economy, which fail to take into account the cultural and social issues affecting learners in disadvantaged communities. This book also opens up effectively the connection between literacy and transformation in a chapter of the same name, offering useful insights for practitioners in adult basic skills settings.' - Shelley Tracey, RaPAL journal, volume 83, summer 2014, Health Literacies, Partnerships and Workplaces
'I would recommend Learning Trajectories, Violence and Empowerment Amongst Adult Basic Skills Learners to anyone who resists inequality, who has respect for human resilience and endeavour against the odds, and who holds an appreciative view of human beings regardless of where they are situated on the social ladder.There is something in it for, and of, all of us.' - Anita Wilson, Centre for Education in the Criminal Justice System, London Review of Education, Vol.12, No. 2, July 2014
'Duckworth - and her learners - have created a powerful, thoughtful and courageous book that will be of great use to students and teachers on a number of levels - undergraduate students of sociology in education would benefit greatly from reading the learners' accounts and Duckworth's positioning of these within the literature, whereas post- graduate students will also gain insights into participatory ethnographic research methodologies. Finally, fellow researchers and reflective practitioners will be inspired by Duckworth's insights into learning, adult literacy and empowerment.' - Sabine Little, University of Sheffield, International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 2014, Vol. 37, No. 4
‘Learning Trajectories is mainly a study of the hurt and harm inflicted on people in disadvantaged communities, examined through the life histories of learners in Oldham. ... Duckworth’s perspective is that of an insider. She lectured on the college courses that her research participants were taking and she grew up in a neighbouring area and came from a similar background. At the end of each chapter, she reflects systematically on what the study meant to her personally, so that the book is also partly a sociologically informed autobiography. It is intelligent, fresh and compelling to read ...’ - John Field, Professor Emeritus, School of Education, University of Stirling, in the THE, 27th February 2014
‘Through an in-depth exploration of the lives of sixteen learners, Duckworth offers her readers valuable insights into the complex interplays between literacy, learning, violence, gender and social class. The richness of the data and the insightful analyses make for a fascinating read. This is an important book that will appeal to a wide audience, including teachers, researchers and policy makers.’ - Professor Carolyn Jackson, Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, UK
‘Whilst this book offers poignant insight into the lives of some Adult Basic Skills Learners, it is no less a landmark in ‘rich’ and critical life/story methodologies. It will be required reading for all my post-graduate students, from any sector, working to create biographies sociologically.’ - Honorary Professor Peter Clough, The University of Sheffield, UK
‘This is a hugely engaging book about adult literacy – and much more. It uses Bourdieusian ethnographic research and personal reflection to explore the lives of working class adult learners. Interwoven into the text is the author’s narrative, her experience as a literacy teacher and the recent social history of Oldham. This book will inspire education researchers and reflective practitioners with an interest in learning and empowerment. I thoroughly recommend this book.’ - Professor Liz Thomas, Edge Hill University, UK
‘Violence and Empowerment amongst Adult Basic Skills Learners is a passionate and powerful account of the struggles faced by learners in marginalized communities. It provides a gripping picture of the complexities and contradictions that shape their lives, and attests to the enduring power of feminist ethnography to illuminate the workings of class and gender in education.’ - Professor Diane Reay, University of Cambridge, UK