Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Learning Together Across the Generations Workshop 240617

Learning together across the generations 

Presenters: Katy Newell-Jones and Juliet McCaffery (Chair and Secretary, BALID (British Association for Literacy in Development))

Katy Newell-Jones, PhD, is chair of the British Association for Literacy in Development (BALID) and is a consultant in learning and teaching with a strong focus on literacy in development. Her interest in literacy as a social practice dates from her time as a basic skills tutor and trainer of trainers in the UK in the early 1980s, during which time she was first involved in intergenerational learning. Since 1992, Katy has been involved in supporting capacity building of a range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) overseas, during which she has developed a strong interest in the role of literacy in post-conflict and other challenging contexts. Working on the UIL UNESCO resource pack Learning Together Across the Generations, was an opportunity to learn from a range of family learning programmes across the world, identifying together common threads and innovative ideas to share. Katy has a number of publications on literacy including Storytelling: a tool for peacebuilding (2012), Education and rights: a toolkit for facilitators (2013) and Literacy and numeracy for trade: a toolkit for facilitators (2014).

Juliet McCaffery, PhD, has specialised in literacy, gender and equalities for over 30 years working in the US, Brighton and London. She also worked for 3 years as gender and development officer at the British Council. She is now an education consultant and has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian sub-continent and in Egypt and Yemen. Her PhD research was on the educational experiences of English Gypsies and Irish Travellers. She was delighted to work on the Learning Together Across the Generations pack for UIL. She has a number of publications on literacy including Developing Adult Literacy co-authored with Merrifield and Millican (2007) and Access, Agency and Assimilation: exploring literacy among Gypsies and Travellers (2012).

Family literacy and family learning are approaches to learning that focus on intergenerational interactions within families and communities which promote the development of literacy, numeracy, language and life skills. Family learning recognizes the vital role that parents, grandparents and other care-givers play in their children’s education and in promoting cultural learning. It further values and supports all forms of learning that happens in the home and in communities. It seeks to break down the artificial barriers between learning in different contexts: in formal or non-formal settings at school or in an adult literacy course, and in informal environments in peoples’ homes and community neighbourhoods. Very often the desire to help their children with school motivates parents or care-givers to re-engage in learning themselves and improve their own literacy, numeracy, language and other basic skills. Linking to this motivation, family literacy and family learning supports adults whose own education has been limited for various reasons to help their children with learning. Therefore, the focus of family literacy and family learning is on both children’s and adults’ learning.

This workshop will explore the role which family literacy and learning can play in empowering families and individuals to engage in learning opportunities with each other and in their communities, drawing on experiences in the UK and low income countries. The facilitators will briefly introduce the 2017 resource pack developed by the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning called Learning Together Across the Generations, which is available free online.

Participants will have an opportunity to select and try out some of the activities from Learning Together Across the Generations, assessing their potential as learning activities in their own context, making suggestions for their adaptation and sharing other learning activities they have developed for intergenerational learning.

At the end of the workshop, participants will have:

  • a greater understanding of the potential of family literacy and learning
  • a range of new ideas for intergenerational activities to suit different contexts
  • knowledge where to seek further information on the planning, implementation and evaluation of family literacy and learning programmes.

Useful Resources

Learning Together Across Generations: Guidelines for Family Literacy and Learning Programmes is now available online. Please find the link to the webpage with the related news here: http://www.uil.unesco.org/literacy-and-basic-skills/engaging-families/learning-together-across-generations-launch-new-uil; and the link to the PDF of the publication here: http://www.uil.unesco.org/literacy-and-basic-skills/engaging-families/learning-together-across-generations-launch-new-uil.

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