Literacy Work in Wheatfield Prison, Dublin, Ireland

Kett, Mary
June 2001
Journal of Correctional Education;Jun2001, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p63
Academic Journal
This paper describes literacy provision in Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, Ireland. Literacy is provided as an integral part of a broad education program designed to foster personal development and prepare prisoners for post-release. The program's originality lies in its ability to offer individualized learning programs within a broad basket of choices that link students into the formal education sector. Participatory approaches that build programs around students' own experiences and motivations arc favored. Literacy students are not stigmatized or separated, and may participate in certain courses along with other inmates working at high school diploma or further education levels. A holistic approach to education is adopted and literacy teaching is integrated wherever possible into the broader curriculum, including Instructional Technology (IT) and Creative Arts courses. Literacy is primarily something people do: it is an activity, located in the space between thought and text. Literacy does not just reside in people's heads as a set of skills to be learnt. and it does not just reside on paper, captured in texts to be analyzed. Like all human activity, literacy is essentially social, and it is located in the interaction between people (Barton, Hamilton, & Routledge, 1998. p. 3). Adult Learning is primarily undertaken on a voluntary, self-motivated basis and in a context where the learner rather than the provider is at the centre of the process. (…) Such a user-driven (approach) challenges the predominance of institutional providers in determining the context and methodologies of the learning experience: it transforms the power relationships between the provider and the learner in favour of the learner and it challenges institutions to develop and implement inclusive policies and practice and processes of learner engagement (Department of Education and Science. 2000, p. 32).


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