Launch of The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education: The Adult Learner, 2020

25 Sep 2020
On Wednesday, 23rd September, over 80 participants gathered online to celebrate the launch of the 34th issue of The Adult Learner journal. Since 1985, it has been the only peer-review journal focused on adult, community and further education in Ireland. This special edition brought together a range of perspectives on adult learning to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the English language version of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

The online event allowed for an international audience to learn more about the 7 articles and 4 book and policy reviews featured in this edition. The journal’s editor, Rosemary Moreland, opened the event, with authors providing a quick overview of their article, before moving into breakout rooms for small setting discussions with participants. This year’s journal encompasses a diverse array of approaches to Freire, from a Freirean-influenced analysis of teaching horticulture, to a personal narrative of living in the direct provision system as an asylum seeker in Ireland. The discussions that took place evidenced the almost limitless potential of Freire’s ideas in today’s world and the continued impact of his thinking on our ideas about adult education and social equality. As editor Rosemary Moreland writes in this year’s Editorial Comment, “[t]he articles bear witness to Freire’s assertion that we should not simply import his ideas, but rather critique and re-create these ideas, in the concrete historical, political, economic and social contexts of our experiences.”

The Relevance of Freire today

We were delighted to welcome Professor José Pedro Amorim from the Paulo Freire Institute to reflect on the legacy of Freire and his relevance to adult learning today. Professor Amorim emphasised the communal nature of the work, sharing with us that “humanising education is never individualistic, it is always collective.” The Adult Learner journal, he said, “provides a platform for that collective voice.” Referring to Freire’s concept of conscientization (conscientização), the development of a personal awareness of social and political inequalities, Professor Amorim stressed the importance of intercultural relations to this process. Professor Amorim cited Freire’s assertion that knowledge of oneself and knowledge of the world are infinitely dialectical, reminding us of the value of listening to different life stories and looking for points of commonality. In this way, we understand the collective through the personal. Indeed, the articles in this year’s issue represent different perspectives on adult education, many of them personal; yet, they are united by a belief in the democratising potential of education and a commitment to fighting for equity of access to education.

The event was closed with a dialogue between Professor Sir Alan Tuckett and Professor Peter Lavender, pioneers in adult education advocacy in England and contributors to this year’s journal. Both speakers highlighted the potential for adult education to function as a space in which to critique and challenge inequalities, specifically the developments in globalisation and neoliberal practices that have been a driving factor in widening social inequalities. As Professor Tuckett argued, part of our work in adult education advocacy is “making sure that teaching and learning isn’t just about what is measured.” Professor Lavender followed this point by arguing how Freire’s work show us how to do this:

“He taught us to base our teaching of adults on learner voice and experience. His analysis of why collective learning and dialogue with students matters, and his understanding of power in relation to educational theory, is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.”

Moving Forward

The session closed with a warm send-off to outgoing Editorial Board member, Professor Bríd Connolly, who served 10 years on the Board. Personal thanks was shared from AONTAS and the Editorial Board members for her valuable service and role in advancing the journal.

To access a free online copy of The Adult Learner 2020 click here.

Abstracts for our next issue of The Adult Learner journal should be submitted before Monday, 28th September 2020. The 2021 edition will focus on the impact of COVID-19 on adult, community and further education. If you are interested in submitting an article for this edition, please email your 400-500 word abstract and bio to