Training Teachers to Teach in Culturally Socially and Economically Sensitive Ways: Report on a Development Project for Adults in South Asia

By David Alan Baker, Brian Street and Alan Rogers.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It has long been orthodoxy among adult educators that those who teach adults need to take into account the existing knowledge, practices, perceptions and expectations of the learners. This is true at both central level where curricula and teaching-learning materials are developed and at local level where adult teacher/facilitator meets adult learners. The problem has been how to train adult educators in appropriate ways to discover the existing epistemologies and aspirations of the adult learners. This paper outlines such a training programme using ethnographic approaches to discovering the existing numeracy and literacy practices of dalit women learners in a rural part of India. The programme is aimed at a group of trainers working with the NGO Nirantar (India) and others from south Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh) with the support of ASPBAE (Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education) and a UK-based NGO, Uppingham Seminars in Development. We begin the paper by looking at the theoretical background to the project and then reporting on the workshops held so far, and finally linking it to the next stage of the project.

Keywords: Teacher Training, Adults, Literacy and Numeracy, Social and Cultural Practices, Epistemology, Ethnographic

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 515.937KB).

David Alan Baker

Reader in Adult NUmeracy and Post 16 Mathematics, Life Long Education and International Development, Institute of Education, London, UK

Dave Baker studied mathematics before becoming a teacher of mathematics in schools. He taught on teacher education programmes and then undertook research into teaching and learning mathematics in teacher education and in formal schooling. As part of a team he has researched relationships between children’s home and formal school mathematics practices and how understandings of these relationships may contribute to explanations of some children’s low achievement in school mathematics. A book describing this research, entitled Navigating Numeracies: Home/School Numeracy Practices, was published in 2006. He is currently working on socially and culturally sensitive approaches to teaching numeracy/mathematics to adult learners in the UK and in South Asia. He has focused on issues of social justice in mathematics and has sought to extend current developments in pedagogy towards widening access and to the need to transform dominant practices in mathematics education. He has published two other books, presented at many conferences and published academic papers on mathematics education.

Brian Street

Professor, School of Education, King’s College, London, UK

Brian Street is Professor of Language in Education at King’s College, London University and Visiting Professor of Education in both the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania and in the School of Education and Professional Development, University of East Anglia. Brian Street undertook anthropological fieldwork on literacy in Iran during the 1970s and taught social and cultural anthropology for over twenty years at the University of Sussex before taking up the Chair of Language in Education at King’s College London. He has written and lectured extensively on literacy practices from both a theoretical and an applied perspective. He has a longstanding commitment to linking ethnographic-style research on the cultural dimension of language and literacy with contemporary practice in education and in development. He has been involved in Technical Support teams, lecture tours, workshops, training programmes and research on this in a number of countries, including USA, South Africa, Nepal and India.

Alan Rogers

Professor, University of East Anglia, East Anglia, UK

Alan Rogers, based at the Universities of East Anglia and Nottingham, is an adult educator with a wide range of experience from local community history to adult learning (formal and informal) and literacy as social practice. He was on the staff of the University of Nottingham for over twenty years before working in Northern Ireland and then in many developing countries in Asia and Africa. He has written a number of books and articles including Teaching Adults (latest edition 2003), Adults Learning for Development (1992) and Non-Formal Education (2004). He was the first Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Education and Training and founder Executive Secretary of Education for Development, and is now Convenor of the Uppingham Seminars in Development.

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