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The alchemy of learning and work: negotiating learner knowledge in a global society

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This article explores issues of literacy and identity of skilled migrants in an educational context in Australia as a learning society. First, it concentrates on forms of knowledge imposed on the learner and looks at how new discourses shape the self. Next, it tests the validity of the four pillars of education in the life of the learner. The paper then discusses the notion of lifelong learning and its appeal to (or existence for) the migrant learners. Finally, it poses important questions about Self-Other dichotomy, emergent voices and a sense of integration. The analysis suggests that further education and employability are closely linked to acquiring discourses set by the education policy designers and the workplace. Without mastering both, passports to further/higher education or professional and other jobs are not issued. The paper argues that literacy skills that incorporate new discourses penetrate and shape existing identities, giving them a sense of new selves, but do not necessarily empower the agency, as the self in control of one's life. However, hope is not lost, as shown by the group of dedicated educators whose efforts to support the migrant-learners lead to meeting their goals in work and education of their choice. When embraced by the society, these learners gain a genuine sense of belonging and move away from the position of being Self/Other marginalised. The article concludes by drawing together issues of literacy, identity, knowledge and lifelong learning that interconnected, if harnessed and used wisely, ultimately emancipate and give a decision-making voice to migrant citizens. Thus they become knowledge workers whose acceptance and personal satisfaction, I firmly believe, contribute to a freer and happier global society. At the boundary life blossoms. James Gleick, Chaos
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NMIT, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: 2008-11-01

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