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ERIC Number: EJ877300
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Nov
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
Lost in Translation
Thompson, Jane
Adults Learning, v16 n3 p14-16 Nov 2004
A conference event is mediated through keynote speeches, power point presentations, professional role-playing and the turgid language of policy agendas, initiatives, benchmarks and outputs. Serious human concerns rarely surface in the orchestrated and anodyne arena of professional conference-going. The ready recourse to ritual and procedure means that the usual voices always get heard whilst the knowledge and experience of others gets lost in the translation. The current emphasis in social policy initiatives about listening to learners, consulting residents, putting local people in the driving seat of regeneration schemes and regional partnerships, is concerned with two agendas. The most obvious is an extension of the managerial preoccupation with quality systems and market forces that has attached quality standards rather like designer labels to organisations in the public sector. The second agenda relates to social inclusion, community cohesion, active citizenship, participatory democracy--the necessary ingredients for securing greater equality and social justice. The author argues that despite the current social policy emphasis on "listening to learners" real participation at conferences and other events is proving elusive, with colleagues often asked to represent "the voice of the learner". Translating the social justice agenda into practice requires the direct involvement of ordinary people but also the active participation of professionals, if it is to have any lasting significance. A look at the UN scale provides a useful guide to how well one is doing when it comes to genuine collaboration with learners and local citizens as distinct from tokenism. It takes a principled view of partnership and self-management: two other important concepts that so often get lost in translation.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A