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DR MAGGIE FEELEY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE UCD Literacy learning care – families, care and the state

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Presentation on theme: "DR MAGGIE FEELEY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE UCD Literacy learning care – families, care and the state"— Presentation transcript:

1 DR MAGGIE FEELEY SCHOOL OF SOCIAL JUSTICE UCD Literacy learning care – families, care and the state

2 Personal research experience Community-based women’s sector Civic inquiry about educational experiences Survivors of institutional abuse – memory work Literacy learners: distance, family, work-related Young LGBT people and empowerment Disadvantaged parents’ views of family literacy Adults involved in care work Those with lived experience of inequality and the law Those working in the area of gender based violence

3 Emancipatory goals and processes Understanding oppression and tackling it; research as praxis Transformation (radical change) – for individuals; groups; structures? Including unheard and marginalised voices; non-exploitative research processes; validating and checking in an accessible manner Attending to ethics; how participants are involved in the research from question to findings and beyond – sharing control over processes, participation and their words Research relationships – how equal can they really be? Costs, boundaries and gains


5 Questions about literacy, learning and care How might a focus on affective equality help to define adult literacy needs and practices with educationally disadvantaged groups in Ireland? What causal role do inequalities of love, care and solidarity have in the educational disadvantage of adults with unmet literacy needs? Do these affective factors explain the different literacy outcomes for individuals from similar groups? How therefore, might recognition of affective inequalities and an adoption of an ethic of care become transformational in work with those with unmet literacy needs in Ireland?

6 A relational method of enquiry A study of the role of care in learning literacy 3-year ethnography Adult survivors of institutional abuse in Irish industrial schools Practitioner research (Fowler and Mace, 2005) in Lighthouse Centre, Dublin State apology in 1999 Cohesive, supportive community Opportunity for emancipatory process of reflection

7 A relational method of enquiry contd. 28 adults aged 40-65 years Age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and learning ability Met and unmet literacy needs (15 met/ partially met/13 unmet) Observation, accompaniment, semi-structured interviews Triangulation – 10 interviews with tutors, counsellors, legal professionals and Centre staff (Denzin, 1997) Collective memory (Olick and Robbins, 1998) Critical case sample (Patton, 1980)

8 No nurturing adults (abandonment) Antithesis of affection – harm; abuse Anti-relational nature of ‘care’ Separation of siblings Control and production of docile servants and workers Hierarchies of ‘care’ within the institutions Children became withdrawn Any affective links helped the learning process Institutional ‘care’

9 In school, survivors experienced fear; damaged self- esteem; corporal punishment; tension and humiliation Robotic, adversarial teaching; difference in learning styles, intelligences not recognised; left-handers abused General disrespect; low value and expectations for children Some lower than others – Travellers; ethnic minorities; children of unmarried parents; a disability Small positive affective differences – a comic; a visit; a caring ethos in only one primary school Experiences of schooling

10 Co-operation and friendship groups discouraged or forbidden Siblings separated Isolation Many learned the benefits of solidary learning in adulthood Anti-solidary learning care

11 Despite the fact that orphanages were designed to educate us and protect us from the ills of society, we received only minimal education and most of us were illiterate. Lack of education deeply affected every aspect of our lives, leaving us unprepared for and fearful of the world outside the institution (Bernadette Fahy, 1999:54). State care-lessness State responsibility for governance; fair social systems that ultimately determine degrees of learning care The state role in literacy and care


13 Taking care of family literacy work Hegarty, Ann and Maggie Feeley (2010) Taking care of family literacy work: An enquiry with parents about their experience of nurturing language and literacy in the home. Dublin: NALA Extended research conversations with 3 groups Dublin, Midlands, West (20 women and 2 men) using photovoice (Wang, et al 2000; Luttrell, 2003; 2013) To explore with parents their attitudes, perceptions, knowledge and understanding of family literacy; their role and engagement; their views of family literacy programmes

14 Defining family … …a unit of people bound together by special affective relationships; these may be multi-generational, historic and rooted in biological bonds or lifetime commitments of love, care and solidarity. 22 parents; one Traveller; two ESL; 2 with addiction issues; criminal justice system; sexual and domestic violence; diverse family structures; extensive care roles 58 children aged between one year and 28 years; average age 11years; 82% (n=18) had children in primary sector; 50% (n=11) in first class or below; 2 in Gaelscoil; 36% (n=8) SLD; ADHD and ritallin

15 Photovoice Participative action research strategy Voicing our individual and collective experience Qualitative methodology (Wang and Burris, 1997) – designed to give voice to those who often go unheard Freirean, feminist and egalitarian approach to research Photos prompt reflection, narratives, discussion that is recorded, codified and analysed Trust and belief in grassroots wisdom to name and challenge dominant/dominating structures and prompt change

16 3 x 2-hour workshops Workshop 1 – talking about literacy; reading and writing photographs Workshop 2 – discussing participants’ photos Workshop 3 – Designing family literacy supports Follow-up interviews with 5 participants Feedback sessions Participants felt affirmed in their role in supporting family literacy Heightened ‘noticing’ of literacy events and practices Increased interest in family literacy programmes

17 Family learning

18 Literacy and care There should be a bit of love has to go in there too. Actually when I am doing homework with the young fellow he is kind of sitting up and kind of leaning against me as if to say – I am well supported here. He feels safe. So I think love should go in there.( Parent aged 42 with 4 children) I have always read to him even when he was a baby. It’s a comfort thing really. He’d sit in my lap and I’d read to him or maybe he would be in bed or we’d be sitting together. Sometimes we do these things but we won’t think of it as teaching or even as work but I think that being a mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world. (Parent aged 32 with 3 children).

19 Findings All parents want their children to do well As a result of structural inequalities, parents are unequally resourced to do this work Parents want to be involved in partnership with schools but schools vary in the degree to which they view parents as partners Parents enjoy the support of peers and welcome the idea of family literacy programmes Parents want: intensive literacy support; more skills in supporting children with language and literacy development and dealing with learning difficulties; computer skills; support with dealing with bullying and communicating with the school

20 The pivotal nature of care A decisive factor in both projects is the pivotal nature of affective aspects of learning and how unequally resourced parents are to do this work We need to put learning care on the agenda

21 Defining learning care… Learning care refers specifically to the impact (giving and receiving) of degrees of care on our capacity to absorb and retain new knowledge and skills.

22 Four types of learning care (Feeley, 2012; 2014) The primary learning care relationships experienced within the family or alternative primary care centre. Secondary learning care relationships in school and adult learning centres. Solidary learning care experienced with peer learners and communities of interest. State learning care describes the attentiveness given by the State to ensuring structural equality (equality of condition) across all the contexts that influence family, school and community capacity to support literacy learning.

23 Conceptualising learning care

24 Conceptualising learning care

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