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Why fathers are not attracted to family learning groups?

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Accounts of fathers' reluctance to engage with locally based family learning groups rarely acknowledge the relationship between learning and identity. This tends not to be the case in parallel accounts of women's reluctance to become involved in groups or networks where the mainstream clientele is male. Drawing on the case study of a national initiative aimed at developing family literacy in local communities throughout the UK, it is argued that decisions to join or not to join these groups is primarily social and cultural rather than individual. This means that the attendance of fathers at family learning events needs to be understood in context. It also means addressing the complexities underpinning their reasons for not attending from a lifelong perspective. When this approach is taken the implications for policy and practice become clearer. What works for some will not work for others. Rather than relying on a standard provision for all, what is needed is a range of high quality dedicated provision that caters for different requirements, specifically in this case, the differing needs and preferences of mothers and fathers.

Keywords: Cultural context; Family learning; Fathers; Gender; Identity; Lifelong; Non-participation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Exeter, UK

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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