ideas and secrets

I want to start each blog with a quote. I warn that the quote need not relate to the text below but may indicate my desire to be thinking in many directions at one time. I will get better at this blogging. But for now, it’s a valuable motivational space that does not need to be good. Some of this – most of this is after all ‘vomit’.  ‘Good’ in this context and perhaps in other contexts too –  is just a way of censoring. 


Many students who fail early literacy are refusing a form of cultural exchange that is increasingly marked out as commodity exchange – an institutional exchange with costs and benefits from extensive ‘buy-in’ and rewards that often are inaccessible and invisible. This institutional exchange increasingly is dominated by corporate texts and legislated pedagogic scripts. 


Luke 2008 Pedagogy as Gift Chapter 8 in Albright and Luke (Eds) Pierre Bourdieu and Literacy Education, Routledge Taylor & Francis: London


Someone will have written something about blogging. For now I have to say these words are in a public space – deliberately and consciously so but to work have to be written as if there is no public. 


And this is what I presume. After all, why would it be interesting or relevant to anyone except me? 


I think I have somewhere the idea that written is always and already a communicative act. The idea of writing as self communication seems unconvincing. So a public space for what is a private communication. For now this makes the difference to what and how I write. 


That is the public nature of this private blog ensures that I discuss ideas rather than secrets


(Blog is not in my spell check. Not even the one attached to my blog.)


So my paper – in 3 parts – ‘Is the Professionalisation of adult basic skills teaching possible, desirable or inevitable?’ The desirable aspects of my discussion is sophisticated. I will not merely reproduce it but will neaten and tighten it. The possible is the part I need to work on. The inevitable – I can weave my EdD research into. 


But ‘The possible’ I want to explore 3 lines:


i) the area is fragmented and the place and organisational culture that surrounds the multiple sites within which basic skills teaching may take place makes the emergence of a single cohesive professional culture extremely difficult. It is not just that each space has its own series of contingencies. It is rather the role the teacher may play is radically different and defies a general set of principles, ethics, orientation and therefore identity. The nature of the diversity is other than the nature of the diversity professional use to justify their closed shop autonomy. Even within a single institution this is true (quote the improving learning cultures). It is the divergent nature of the field makes the enterprise fraught.  


Hillier ‘Nothing will prevent me from doing a good job’ might help to define the occupational filed and its fragmented diversity. 


ii) the specialised nature of the subject area is in doubt. Unlike many teachers in FE who have what might be called a ‘dual’ professionalism – one that they maintain when the move into the sector and which they base a high degree of credibility upon, the basic skills teacher has not such duality. The mature of their subject knowledge is public – in as much as it is reading and writing – this has changed to a large extent with the introduction of the core-curriculum documents. But there are distinct strands even within adult basic skills that view reading and writing as a public and shared domain – I here refer to Kohl – reading, how to. What basic skills teachers know – reading and writing – is known to everyone. It is no more then common sense. Similarly to teaching in general – after all we have all been taught and taught someone something. There is no secret garden. 


iii) my final line of argument refers to  the notion of adult basic skills teaching as distinctly anti-professional. What I mean – somewhere caught up in notions of professionalism are notions of ‘client’ a relationship between expert and laity. I want to argue for the pervasiveness of Frierean thought. The belief in equity as a fundamental driver. The teacher-student / student-teacher dynamic. The reading the word and reading the world. I want here to make reference to the barefoot professional. Usher and Edwards (check) offer 3 typologies of worker identity – activist, professional and entrepreneur. The basic skills teacher is an entrepreneur. I also suggest that in part the low status of the client group is surely connected to the low status of the occupational group. That as time changes – newer recruits shift away from the principles and politics of basic skills teaching. 


Hillier might help here  – the argument is that what drives workers is a commitment to social justice and equity. 


This seems a fine set of arguments. 


My linking idea that shifts from possible to desirable has to be based on more recent pronouncements that actually this shift has happened. I may quote here NRDC literature that assumes the professionalism of adult basic skills teaching. Along with a raft of other measures. It is possible – that this may be a prescribed rather than enacted professionalism – it is possible that this merely institutionalises the barefoot professionalism that I refer to earlier. 


But with what consequences?  This links me to arguments about the desirability of these changes. 


I want to read Pierre Bourdieu and Literacy Education. I have it but feel I have to focus on the story in hand. It feels like a treat I have waiting for me. 

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