Article

Unseen roots and unfolding flowers? Prison learning, equality and the education of socially excluded groups

Citation

Galloway S (2021) Unseen roots and unfolding flowers? Prison learning, equality and the education of socially excluded groups. British Educational Research Journal. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3734

Abstract
The objective of this theoretical article is to critique the notion that adult education, in its current marketised formations, might serve the purpose of rehabilitating learners. To date there has been no detailed interrogation by educationalists of the desirability of rehabilitation as an overarching aim for prison education, or to consider the existing educational philosophies that notions of rehabilitation might cohere with. This article begins to address this gap by engaging with the idea of rehabilitation from a critical adult education perspective. The conceptual framework informing the analysis is critical adult education theory, drawing tangentially on the work of Raymond Williams. The overarching assumption is that education might be understood as the practice of equality, which I employ alongside conceptualisations of empowering adult literacies learning as drawn from writings in the field of New Literacies Studies (NLS). These approaches enable the critique of criminological theory associated with prison learning, alongside the critique of assumptions traceable to NLS. The analysis focuses more specifically on Scotland’s prison system, where the criminological theory of ‘desistance’ currently holds some sway. I observe that whilst perspectives of criminologists and educationists draw upon similar sociological assumptions and underpinnings, different conclusions are inferred about the purpose and practice of adult learning. Here criminologists' conceptualisations tend to neglect power contexts, instead inferring educational practices associated typically with early years education. I also demonstrate the importance of equality in the context of adult education, if educators are to take responsibility for the judgements they make in relation to the education of socially excluded groups.

Keywords
adult education; equality; prisoners; rehabilitation

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
British Educational Research Journal

StatusIn Press
Publication date online30/06/2021
Date accepted by journal05/05/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/32913
PublisherWiley
ISSN0141-1926
eISSN1469-3518