Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning

Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning is a collection of learner stories, in their own words and with some helpful contributions by tutors along the way. Learner stories were collected from across Australia and the United Kingdom, and include voices spanning much of the earth.  Edited by Tara Furlong and Keiko Yasakawa it is ‘testimony to the resilience of human lives, the critical role of lifelong learning, and how adult literacies weave through our journeys, visibly and invisibly’. The publication is an international partnership between the UK based RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacies) and ACAL (the Australian Council for Adult Literacy) ‘whose members wanted told the stories of the resilience of learners and the value of developing literacies through lifelong and life-wide learning’. This is a small sample of the Stories.

Mark Hopkins, PRACE Education and Training

“Improving my English has also helped me in my workplace in many different ways. It gives you self-confidence. I have been the HSR (Health and Safety Representative) for over three years now. Sometimes you’ll have to read things out. I was terrified of that kind of thing in the past. Now I’ve got more confidence to do things like that.

Anyone who’s contemplating an adult literacy course, just go for it. You meet some great people in an adult literacy class. I am really comfortable because everyone there understands the problem. It’s not like going to a normal school, everyone’s got the same problem as you, and there’s a real bonding that goes on. Don’t be nervous, because the people around you have similar stories to you, and they understand. So I say make the most of it. I’m turning forty this year, and I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but no matter what happens I won’t stop learning. I’ll just keep going.”

Amy Gaskin, Derbyshire County Council Adult Community Education Service

I come from a travelling family and we were always moving about. So, I never went to school as a child, and I never learned to read or write at all. When I started my family, I stopped travelling, because I wanted my children to be brought up with the chance to read and write, to see that they could do it… I wanted to be able to read and write, but for a long time I never got around to doing anything about it for myself. I used to just get by, to pretend.

But just over a year ago, at my son’s school, I met a woman who said she had been going to adult education classes to get help with her reading and writing. I thought “why not try?” and I found myself phoning up to find out more. I’ve been going for over a year now and I really do like it.

I feel like a new, more confident person now. I’m proud of myself for going to classes and sticking at them. And when I got my certificate, well can you imagine how I felt? I’d never been to school or got any qualifications, so it felt really good! If you are feeling embarrassed or worried about your reading and writing, there are places where you can go and ask for help. You’ve just got to find that first little bit of courage to take the first step.