The importance of reflection in experiential learning with community and youth workers for the learning age
The New Labour government, in its Green Paper on the Learning Age, published in February 1998, put lifelong learning at the heart of its programme. In this article we aim to demonstrate that there is a direct parallel between the processes outlined in the Green Paper and the processes of experiential learning and community development by focusing on the Diploma in Community and Youth Work Studies run by the Community Work Unit (CWU) based in the Centre for the Development of Continuing Education at the University of Manchester. Community action provides a setting for informal education. Community workers are in a unique position in relation to developing the potential for learning in the groups and individuals with whom they work. Their education and training should enable them to articulate and value their experience and reflect upon it in order to establish a meaningful basis for further self- and/or community development. We will explore how the CWU uses participative learning methods which recognize, value and use the experience and understanding of the participants as a basis for their own and others' learning, and the relevance of these learning methods to the work practice of the participants.