Adult literacies from the perspective of practitioners and their learners: a case study from the north of England

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This article is based on qualitative research with adult literacy practitioners and learners in the north of England. I draw on interview and focus group data to identify their perspectives on adult literacies and compare these with the understandings of literacy on which current policy-making for adult literacy in England is based. The research revealed a wide range of ways in which literacy is understood in practice, compared with a much narrower conceptualisation in current policy. The article concludes that teachers’ and learners’ perspectives on adult literacies reinforce the notion that literacy is not a fixed concept, but that its meanings and uses vary according to time and context. It argues, however, that a policy environment based on an understanding of literacy which emphasizes employability and economic outcomes creates challenges for teachers and learners to maintain their own perspectives in relation to what literacy constitutes and what is important in adult literacy education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


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