Rita and Gerald

Adult learning in Britain today

Paperback / softback, 172 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
15 Feb 2015
Trentham Books

Price: £24.99

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Rita and Gerald traces the history of adult learning in the UK from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Both a celebration and a defence of adult education, it shows how lifelong learning has adapted to change over the last two centuries and why the sector is today needed more than ever.

Built around the educational stories of 150 students in six premier institutions who are studying programmes ranging from entry-level English to postgraduate degrees, the book combines a theoretical perspective with insight into human aspirations. We read how a British soldier moved past the horror of war-torn Bosnia through studying creative writing at Ruskin College; how a young woman who has cerebral palsy found a haven for learning at the Mary Ward Centre; how sisters who escaped persecution in Libya came to Camden’s Working Men’s College to study English and child care.

Rita and Gerald is essential reading for adult students, curriculum planners, policymakers, professional educators, and undergraduate and postgraduate students of the history and philosophy of education, and community learning.

  • Philip Stevens

    Philip Stevens was a firefighter before returning to education as a mature student in the 1970s. Since then he has had a long career in adult education, where over many years he gathered the stories of learning that form the backbone of this book.

CONTENTS: Preface by Fred Inglis; 1. Introducing a noble tradition; 2. Lowering voices and raising minds; 3. A Sign of things to come; 4. Proud to be a ransacker; 5. A higher calling; 6. All thanks to the OU; 7. Endnote; References; Index

'Philip Stevens has produced an engrossing and engaging account of adult higher learning in Britain, which testifies to its power to change lives. His book is at once a survey of the variety available and evidence of the continuing importance of these opportunities both for individuals and for UK society as a whole.'

Lesley Smith, Professor of Medieval Intellectual History, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford

'Philip Stevens draws extensively on the accounts of individual students to show that anyone, of any age, can benefit today from a movement that continues to build on the pioneering work of early "benefactors". There is no better way to illustrate the value of taking the first, sometimes giant, step to adult learning than by telling the stories of learners such as those featured in his book.'

Suzanna Jackson, Principal, Mary Ward Centre