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Community education, a mirror and a shield

Wallace, David (2008) Community education, a mirror and a shield. The Edinburgh Papers. pp. 4-8.

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The principles underpinning community education offer both a mirror on society and a shield against appropriation and co-option. However, for some time there have been concerns about the loss of community education and its influences in Scottish discourse, policy and in practice. These concerns have been serially discussed with likeminded friends and colleagues in the field, with partners in research activity and with academic colleagues representing a fair cross section from the community education firmament. In these discussions a loss of principle is argued, there are observations that critical practices are being marginalised or eradicated and there is recognition of a growing co-option and corruption of practices to meet neoliberal ends over associational, democratic and empowering community education. Across domains of youth work, adult learning and community development ‘technologies’ (Martin, 1988) of policy, audit, inspection and challenge-funding are seen as instrumental in precipitating this deleterious trend. The mirror and the shield appear to be failing!