This conference is a forum for discussion and debate about how the field of adult basic education can reclaim learning spaces for adults, particularly those who are currently excluded from education. We will consider what adult basic education in the future might look like if programs were built by listening to the learners' needs and aspirations, rather than by fitting learners into pre-determined programs that may not be the most suitable ones for them - a struggle faced by many practitioners now. The conference will acknowledge many practitioners’ desire to inject more organic and authentic approaches, without which our ability to respond to the needs of diverse learner groups are limited. The conference also considers new knowledge and skills we can develop in order to make a strong case for working differently. One aspect of this will be consideration of the benefits of adult basic education not only to individual learners, but also to their families and communities. Confirmed key note speakers and presentations:
Dr Julie Choi, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Resourcefulness in English Language Classrooms: Emerging possibilities through plurilingualism
With major funding cuts to the adult migrant education sector and persistent public ‘deficit views’ of immigrant and refugees’ levels of literacy, approaches to teaching and learning in this sector require flexible views of language that embrace plurilingualism as a valuable resource within and outside of the socially-orientated ESL classroom. In this presentation, I discuss my findings from a study in which I taught English to immigrant and refugee women in a housing estate in Melbourne, Australia, and investigated the effects of a plurilingual view on the women’s English language learning experience and communication skills. Drawing on recorded classroom dialogues, observation notes, and worksheets produced by the women, I illustrate the extraordinary plurilingual resourcefulness immigrant and refugee women bring to the challenge of learning to communicate in English.
Phil Kane, University of Auckland
Researching workplace numeracy as a social practice - case studies from New Zealand
My interests in adult numeracy began when teaching mathematics to bridging learners at a large urban polytechnic in the early 1990s. The people often stated that they struggled in school mathematics but then claimed they had not needed mathematics after leaving school. Then as a member of a national adult numeracy development team (2006-11), during visits to tutors and trainers of literacy and numeracy, some of the same messages still percolated. In the same period I studied two workplace roles (kiwifruit orchard managers, and urban recycling and refuse collectors) to see what mathematics was actually being used. It was clear how deeply embedded the elements of estimation and spatial awareness are in those workplace practices, and how these elements underpinned many critical decisions in those roles, whether the participants noticed the mathematics, or not. My own noticing where people operate within their adult numeracy spaces has become so much keener.