Learning across walls with Amy and Ruth

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Amy Ludlow and Ruth Armstrong were at the University of Canberra today (I have an introductory post here). Lorana Bartels was their host for the day.

They came to discuss connections between universities and prisons (public institutions doing public good).

Amy and Ruth co-presented. They provided an epistemological background to their Learning Together work. I enjoyed their focus on students working with each other inspired by dialogical insights from Paulo Freire.

Their framework is informed by sociological, criminology and educational perspectives on socially emergent personhood. They located their practice in the communities of learning literature too.

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In their conversations about growth, identity and stigma they drew attention to Victor Frankel on presupposing potential as well as discussions of aspirational hope.

They moved on to discuss Richard Sennett‘s work on interactive edges in communities. This helped explore some of the tensions that exist within universities and prisons around innovations in learning. This eased us into conversations about ethical communities of learning that are inclusive and enabling.

At the interactive edges there are opportunities for education to be a subversive good.

Amy and Ruth used some quotes to provide thick description to their presentation. I liked this from Andy:

This course helped me to come back from the corners of society. ‘Them’ and ‘us’ became ‘we’.

I appreciated the journey one student had made when he said at graduation:

This is the first time my family have seen me receive something other than a custodial sentence.

During questions at the end of their co-presentation, Amy and Ruth noted that the evaluation of the program had to be extremely sensitive to avoid any suggestion that this was an experiment. They talked about their use of participatory narrative inquiry to collect participants’ stories.

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Participants use a story form to share their stories. These are collected as a formative evaluation of the project. The stories are shared openly within the learning community. These stories are stored digitally and can be analysed for use in meta-commentary of learning experiences.

The session ended with a delightful quote from David Hume:

Tis impossible to separate the chance of good from the risk of ill

… and Lorana’s news of the University of Canberra’s plans for Learning Together projects with partners in Queensland and hopefully in the ACT.

A wonderful way to spend a morning.

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