History and Practice of Community Education. CET No. 1.

February 16, 2022
“Many educators and administrators feel that university public service programming will assume an even larger role in the university community due to declining enrollment and public demands for relevance.” Robert Sellers. Methodology for Evaluating University Public Service Outreach to State and Local Government, in State & Local Government Review, May 1979, Vol. 11, No. 2 […]

“Many educators and administrators feel that university public service programming will assume an even larger role in the university community due to declining enrollment and public demands for relevance.” Robert Sellers. Methodology for Evaluating University Public Service Outreach to State and Local Government, in State & Local Government Review, May 1979, Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, 1979), pp. 64-69 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/4354649).

 

So was said in 1979. Community education is a public service, substantially.  However, the article of the past is very revealing in how we have not progressed in community education as a public service. “For example, said Robert Sellers, “it might be established that a public service unit with less than two full-time professionals would rank below standard for that characteristic.”

 

A global conversation needs to open up on the community education, and include the many visions of community education, and which would embrace differences.

 

More than that the practice in the new community education model(s) need to become formative. My thinking here is informed by the knowledge of how the histories have shaped community education. There are several examples I can give, but here is one.

 

In the early 20th century community education, across Commonwealth countries, was substantive in the form of Technical Colleges, Schools of Art, Mechanic Institutes, royal societies, and ideological associations – Freethinkers, Rationalists, and Church lecture series. By the mid-century that momentum is eroded, and community education is largely reduced to technical arts at the tech colleges. In Australia there was never a history of the American state community colleges, and the liberal arts colleges which emerged in the mid-West. The early 21st century ‘global’ has changed the dynamics with the emergence of online educative communities. However, it struggles in the 1990s-created neo-liberal economy and institutional constant habits, where the talk is generally innovation but without structural change. An example of innovation with structural change is the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Model (2005-2015).

 

Where we need to look to examine the challenges, is in the relationship between the universities and community education. The informal history of community education goes back a long way – catechisms, political meetings in the public square, Sunday schools, and so forth. To different measures, these gatherings were popular movements. The universities ebbed and flowed through these popular movements, and the academy was both influenced popular movements and was influenced by such movements. In the 20th century the universities took a larger leadership role in community education. This was particularly seen in the organisation of the Workers Educational Association. However, the momentum withered in the last quarter of the century. This coincided with the development of university’s correspondence courses, with community members obtaining degrees through programs in mail packages, radio, and television. This process was replaced, in this century, by the online collaborative university educational programs, such as Open University. In this case the degrees are badged as generic across the university partners. Where does that leave community education?

 

In a neo-liberal economy, it means that many community members are still left out of the university’s ‘open’ offerings. That means that many communities members look to community education as a free hobby, a plaything with no educative concern. In such an environment, lifelong learning is significantly diminished.

 

That is the current challenge for community educators and facilitators, as well as for corporate owners of the platforms that operated to run community education programs.

 

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BOOK CHAPTERS

Buch, Neville (2021). The Intellectual Ethos of Charles Strong in Queensland 1855-1917, in Marion Maddox, Charles Strong’s Australian Church: Christian Social Activism, 1885–1917, University of Melbourne Press.

Edmonds, P. (2015). Whither the universities. In Tilting at Windmills: The literary magazine in Australia, 1968-2012 (pp. 153-154). South Australia: University of Adelaide Press. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/10.20851/j.ctt1sq5wf6.15

Mckillop. A.B. ((1994) Character and Conduct (pp. 83-100) in Mckillop, A., Matters of Mind: The University in Ontario, 1791-1951. Toronto; Buffalo; London: University of Toronto Press. Retrieved May 8, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctvcj2q67

 

BOOKS

Buch Neville (2014). Celebrating 40 Years.  St Thomas More College, God’s Servant First (1974-2014). St Thomas More College. (pp. 123).

Buch Neville (2015). No Regrets in the Evening of Life: The History of Junction Park State School (1888-2013). Boolarong Press. (pp. 459).

Buch Neville (2016). A Quest for a Fair Go: A History of the KSC in Queensland (with Beryl Roberts). Stafford, Qld. The Knights of the Southern Cross (Qld). (pp. 281)

Denniss, Richard (2021) Econobabble: How to decode political spin and economic nonsense, Black Inc.

Emison, Mary (2013). Degrees for a New Generation: Marking the Melbourne Model, University of Melbourne Press

Francis X. Hartigan (edited, 1989). History and Humanities: Essays in Honour of Wilbur S. Shepperson, University of Nevada Press

Grawe, Nathan D. (2021). The Agile College: How Institutions Successfully Navigate Demographic Changes, John Hopkins University Press .

Habermas, Jürgen (1992) Communication and the Evolution of Society, Polity Press

Hai, A.A., et al (edited, 2020) Reimagining Teaching in Early 20th Century, Springer

Hayot, Eric (2021). Humanist Reason: A History, An Argument, A Plan, Columbia University Press

Kupfer, Antonia (2012). Globalisation, higher education, the labour market and inequality. Routledge, London

Lawrence, Jon (2019). Me, me, me? : the search for community in post-war England, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England

Macintye, Stuart (2006). How Organisations Connect: Investing in Communication, Melbourne University Press

Macintye,Stuart (2010). The Poor Relations: A History of Social Sciences in Australia, Melbourne University Press

Macintye, Stuart (2016). Life After Dawkins: The University of Melbourne in the Unified National System of Higher Education, Melbourne University Press

Mandler, Peter (2020). The Crisis of the Meritocracy: Britain’s Transition to Mass Education since the Second World War, Oxford University Press

Marginson, Simon  (2016). Higher Education and the Common Good. Melbourne University Publishing

Marginson, Simon (1993). Education and Public Policy in Australia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge [England] ; Melbourne

Marginson, Simon (1997). Markets in Education. Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards, N.S.W

Marginson, Simon. (2016). The Dream Is Over: The Crisis of Clark Kerr’s California Idea of Higher Education. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Newton, Michael, et al (1997). In Touch with a New World: Celebrating Adult Learning at WEA Sydney, State Library of NSW, Mitchell Library.

Reitter, Paul and Chad Wellmon (2021). Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age, The University of Chicago Press

Roberts, Jon H. and James Turner (2000). The Sacred and the Secular University, with an Introduction by John F. Wilson. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN: 0-6910-1556-2

Sandel, Michael (2020). The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? Penguin Random House

Teese, Richard (2000). Academic Success and Social Power: Examinations and Inequality, Melbourne University Press

Willetts, David (2017). A University Education, Oxford University Press

William Clark (2006). Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University, University of Chicago Press

History and Practice of Community Education. CET No. 1. 1

University Campus Education Knowledge School Concept

Image: Photo 75687496 / Community Education © Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.

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