Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

conferencing literacy

I am just back from the Adult Learning Knowledge Centre 2007 National Symposium in Halifax. Still trying to sort through all that I learned.

The highlights:

  1. Invigorating and refreshing conversation with some of the good literacy folks who were able to attend ~ Nancy Jackson, Nadine Sookermany, Suzanne Smythe, Janet Skinner, Sue Shore, Arthur Bull, Charles Ramsey and Wendy DesBrisay (in order of appearance).
  2. Presentations that brought learner voices to the conference.
    • Corrina Craig from Our Place Society, Victoria, BC told us about Street Life’s Creative Turn
    • Arthur Bull of the Marine Resource Centre, Digby, NS told us about Visual Media as a Tool for Community Development; and
    • Jason Brown of the University of Western Ontario, London, ON told us about Adult Learning in Aboriginal Community-Based Inner-City Organizations.
  3. A presentation that brought literacy practitioner voices to the conference.
    • Wendy DesBrisay, Movement for Canadian Literacy, Ottawa, ON told us about A Fully Literate Canada: What does it mean? What is it going to take?
  4. The brave, clear literacy voices. The above group conferenced with passion and compassion and, for those who could not be there, I think that you would be proud of how well our field was represented by this tiny, fierce contingent.
  5. Support. Some of the ALKC people and conference participants responded with passion and compassion.
The less-than-high lights:
  1. The lack of diversity among participants. And along the same lines ~ the reports on projects about work in aboriginal communities not being presented by aboriginal people.
  2. The pervasive view that sets of numbers and/or tiny boxes can describe learning as measurable, quantifiable sets of skills rather than what it actually is: a process of developing self, community and awareness (see the scottish approach).
  3. The pervasive sadness of literacy workers. This ordinarily innovative and brave group is finding it difficult to envision a future for the field. I think that we all know why.


Wendell Dryden said...

re: "lack of diversity among participants" ... "pervasive sadness of literacy workers"

Most of NB's literacy workers just got laid off until the middle of September. (Gov't funders call it "the Summer Break", we call it unemployment.) We weren't invited to attend this conference. I mean, nobody told me or any of the workers I know about it. Nor do UNB or PolicyLink talk to us. They mostly do business with our bosses.

They do business, have conferences, whatever... and then some decision gets handed down to us. And we explain it to the learners as best we can.

Sorry. This is a grumpy comment, I know. I'm just so tired of it all.


literacies publisher said...

No apology necessary.
These are grump-inducing times. And from what I learned on a trip to Fredericton a couple of years ago, NB rates up there at the top of the list of grump-inducing jurisdictions. Even the grumpiest literacy workers form other provinces are in awe when I describe NB working and learning conditions.

Wendell Dryden said...

I spent a library evening with my learners... no, not my learners... with some other adults who are learners like me. We talked about Blake and Milton (we rest don't know nuttin but one lady did), and why the inside angles of a 5-sided figure add up to 540', and how do berries from the Himalayas get to New Brunswick anyhow?, and how do you save a letter in the A-drive again?, and if you plant an onion and all you get is another onion...

... and I feel much better. It's the work that keeps us going. The people. Not the politics or the pay.


Nancy Friday said...

Hi Wendell,

I responded to your first comment the other day, but I guess I didn't post it correctly because it never appeared. What I said then is that it is at the very least a good thing that we had some good left-winger literacy folk there in Halifax to share their wisdom, and bring back a report of what is happening around us. With that said however, I take your frustration seriously and concur.

In terms of what we all do to make ourselves feel better, I was sharing with Tracey today that when things were really rough for the staff team at a previously place where I worked (we were trying to be a collective inside of a hierarchy), we took time out at our staff meetings to share stories about what kept us going. It was really affirming and energizing.

My most recent lift comes from this YouTube video:

It is just so coming from the right place.


Post a Comment