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Stuck at home: A portrayal of educational work in community spaces

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Abstract:

This paper considers the positioning of work in community learning spaces through insights drawn from a particular case of adult community education in Victoria, Australia. Despite the rhetorical location of adult community education in Victoria as a legitimate and important sector of post compulsory education and as part of the platform on which the government's lifelong learning agenda is realised, perceptions held of it continue to devalue the significant educational work that is done within it and the outcomes it achieves.

The paper draws on an analysis of a sample of qualitative interview data collected in the course of related research projects (Clemans, 2005; Billett et al., 2005; Seddon et al. 2008) to highlight the ways in which work in a community learning space is positioned, perceived and (mis)understood. These perceptions stem from those who work both within and are located outside of the community-based adult education sector. The findings demonstrate the centrality of the notion of the 'domestic' or home space in the ways that educational work in community settings is constructed and perceived. They suggest that a consistent emphasis on care overlays notions of unpaid, private and domestic work onto those who work in the community learning space.

The paper invites readers to view the community as a spatial construction, drawing on ideas founded in feminist geographies and those within adult education. It argues that these scholarly resources are helpful in understanding the ways in which work within the adult community education space is distinctively positioned, yet consistently devalued, despite its significant impact on 'second chance' learners.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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