Karl's story is shared as part of AONTAS’ national campaign from 1st - 14th September 2021 to raise awareness about the benefits of returning to education as an adult.
Karl Gough participated in AONTAS’ July 2021 Learners as Leaders Development Education programme, delivered in partnership with Development Perspectives. The programme focused on Development Education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We caught up with Karl to discuss his experience learning about the SDGs.
What was your previous experience in education like?
Looking back, I really didn’t enjoy secondary school that much. I consider myself fortunate though because in light of this, I always knew I wanted to attend third level education. I made this happen via a yearlong Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) course in further education rather than entering university directly after secondary school. Having made that decision, I have had nothing but very fulfilling educational experiences across both formal and informal settings since.
Currently, I'm studying the Professional Masters in post-primary teaching at University College Dublin (UCD). Prior to that, I studied teaching and learning for further education at National College Ireland (NCI), a bachelor's degree in English Media and Cultural Studies in Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) as well as the aforementioned Post Leaving Cert (PLC) course in Liberal Arts at Rathmines College of Further Education.
What impact has this made on you, on your life or within your family or community?
It has seen me become the first member of my immediate family to complete school beyond Junior Certificate and the only member of my family to attend a PLC course, earn a bachelor's degree, a postgraduate diploma and hopefully in a year from now, a professional MA degree. Slightly harder to quantify though is the love of learning I feel I have acquired as a result of my experiences across these different iterations of education. I would say this accounts for my want to pursue a career in teaching. A pursuit which would see me become one of several public servants in my family and one of many currently living in my home estate in Dublin.
Has returning to learning encouraged you to think more about and act on issues related to sustainability?
My experiences as a student as well as a teacher can attest to the ways the SDGs are being integrated into curricula across both second and third level education in Ireland. As a student enrolled in higher education, I am encouraged to interact with materials which explains what they are and why they are important. As a teacher, I am encouraged to teach what they are and how they are commensurate with a more sustainable future to my students.
Why do you think development education is important in the field of adult education?
Personally, I believe development education is important in the field of adult education because it can challenge us to think critically about any misguided stereotypes or perceptions we may hold about each other. Socially, this can encourage us to increase our awareness about the world in which we live and learn through ways which emphasise our active participation with one another. Professionally, this can enable me to become a more just teacher - one that is cognizant of student voice and the understanding that their experiences can bring to a learning environment.
Which Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) do you feel is the most important and why?
For me, Quality Education (SGD4) is the most important of all the SDGs because it is the goal that underpins each of the other sustainable development goals.
How would you encourage people to care more about the SDGs and use them more within adult education?
I would encourage people to keep up to date with current research, publications and literature regarding the SDGs and their integration within education.
What advice would you give to someone else considering coming back to education?
For more information on the Learners as Leaders programme, please email AONTAS EU Projects Officer, Ecem Akarca: email@example.com.
You may also find the following links useful:
Development Perspectives: https://www.developmentperspectives.ie/home
University College Dublin: www.ucd.ie
Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT): www.iadt.ie
Rathmines College of Further Education: www.rathminescollege.ie
AONTAS is running a national campaign from 1st – 14th September 2021 to raise awareness about returning to education as an adult. Are you thinking of returning to education? Visit www.OneStepUp.ie today or call 1 800 303 669 (free) to speak directly with an AONTAS member of staff.