Thursday, 1 May 2008

barriers to learning?

"Learning is a key tool in securing equality of opportunity, but at the moment that key turns most easily for people with the confidence, money, motivation and opportunity to join in" - a quote taken from a consultation by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills ( And the quote goes on to describe the barriers to learning and the people that might be affected:

  • Older people lacking money or mobility or both

  • Those with learning difficulties or disabilities who need the chance to develop their learning and also skills for independent living

  • Poorer people who face barriers that may be financial or to do with their prior experience of learning

  • Ethnic minority groups, who may face language or other barriers to learning

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, says that adult learning may be stimulated by a TV programme and this has happened already locally (I think it was in Fairfield where CSI influenced a course of learning). And he also writes that more learners are now designing and developing learning themselves. This is an exciting concept and is at the heart of community education, empowering the participants.

Another area which might hold people back from learning is appropriate guidance, helping them to make choices. A person might need to look at their own skills, experience and past learning, and to be encouraged to reflect on these so as to make an informed choice about future learning. My last FT post was in an FE college on the guidance team and I worked particularly on a student mentoring project. I found that the student mentors often needed to discuss their past and present learning to have a perpective on their choices for the future - whether to pursue study at university, to postpone for a year or to go directly into employment. And they in turn would discuss similar topics with the student mentees they voluntarily worked with at college.

Learning is an exciting journey, I know because I'm still on the road, and it can be a challenge knowing the right or best way to go. Often it's knowing what's not the right choice that can be the greatest help.

TS Eliot said "we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time"