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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Thinking Folk: Praxis and Phronesis in Action in Adult and Community Education- an International Comparison

Nicholson, Garry (2023) Thinking Folk: Praxis and Phronesis in Action in Adult and Community Education- an International Comparison. Doctoral thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things and see there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.
Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)
This research explores how the German concept of Bildung, in which philosophy and education are linked in a process of lifelong personal, cultural and social maturation, finds form within the global folk school tradition. Building upon the work of Aristotle (384-322BC), the ‘practical wisdom’ (phronesis) of nine educators working within this tradition is discussed through analysis of data collected in informal conversations exploring the educational beliefs and practices of this group of practitioners. Comparisons are made between a number of Folk Schools set in culturally diverse settings. Analysis of these contexts, reveal the differing emphasis that is placed on the Bildung stages of individual growth, community contribution and citizenship.
The conceptual framework developed by Biesta (2015) is used to consider the historical evolution of both the Danish Folk High School system and the English Adult and Community Learning sector in relation to how they have developed in the light of the three clear educational functions that Biesta proposes: qualification, socialisation and subjectification.
With many of the person-centred principles of andragogy becoming less prevalent in a neo-liberal adult education landscape that increasingly focuses on the need to develop human economic capital, consideration is given to the subjectivity of what makes an education ‘good’. In doing so, an alternative educational paradigm is presented to reveal ‘another way', that whilst still promoting employability, has also traditionally emphasised the role that dialogue and community participation play in education.
Recommendations are made that suggest that dialogue, philosophy and community placemaking should be become more central to adult education praxis in the United Kingdom. A further recommendation is that in response to the question of, ‘What is a good education?’, instead of considering this to be a question that can be answered with an absolute truth, it is a question that should be continually asked as part of developing professional phronesis not only in Adult and Community Learning educational contexts but in educational contexts in general.

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Uncontrolled Keywords: Bildung; Folk Schools; Phronesis, Praxis
Depositing User: Nicola Jackson


Item ID: 16271

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Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2023 13:42
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2023 08:00


Author: Garry Nicholson

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