Education is ACE

The idea that education is for life is learned from early childhood. The ethos of community based learning, second chance education and community development has informed Adult and Community Education (ACE) programmes for many years. Despite the brutal cuts to ACE the ethos is alive and well in places like Riverslea Primary School in Hastings and McAuley High School in Otahuhu.

These ACE programmes operate in a context which is at the heart of Green educational policy. We believe that schools need to be community hubs where there is an open door to many kinds of activities associated with lifelong learning and community building. We don’t want schools privatised so that community access becomes unaffordable. The positive vision of lifelong learning needs to be valued and nurtured by Government instead of the current League tables and Charter Schools competitive model.

The ACE sector have done an amazing job of working with schools and community groups to sustain adult education and promote the diversity of opportunities for lifelong learning despite the lack of money. I hope the Government will not use the ACE resilience as an excuse to keep a sinking lid on any funds for adult and community education. The greatest way to excite children about learning is for them to see their families engaged in education. When adults are participating in adult education children see the benefits and gain inspiration and purpose.

Hence it was disturbing to hear last week that the ACE sector is still under pressure from the Tertiary Education Commission.

Normally ACE is on a two year funding cycle and has planned accordingly but they have now been told they have to return any unspent funds after one year. This was not written into their 2011 agreement with TEC but is now required. The effect is that of the 23 schools left who deliver ACE possibly half will have to opt out from lack of funds.

Unfortunately the Government has shown that it doesn’t understand either the value or practices of ACE education in the community and is continuing to undermine it.

I have no doubt that ACE will carry on creatively but people miss out every time a programme is cut and the flow on effects of ACE becomes muted. A small state investment as has been negotiated for Enviroschools pays huge dividends for communities and the country. Let’s join the dots and support ACE, we are all lifelong learners.

30 thoughts on “Education is ACE

  1. Despite any perceived benefits for Indonesian cookery classes or basket weaving for beginners, the (finite) taxpayers purse has far greater demands on it than pandering to the social needs of lonely 30-something women seeking some human interaction and false sense of acheivement.

  2. Excellent post, Catherine, making a “richer” New Zealand includes broad concepts well beyond what this government understand or appreciates.

  3. Your second paragraph was ideological abomination. You want the state to stick its love probe up everybody’s backside, forcing taxpayers to pay for the privilege, rather than leave people be to do what they have evolved to do – learn naturally in their own way. You want to define ‘community’ rather than let it define itself. Top-down creep show. Community should be bottom-up. Community should be the reality of friends and family and common people building their own infrastructures to THEIR own agenda’s. Government should just take a social insurance role, and only step in where truly necessary.

  4. Andrew

    No “community” of more than about 200 persons is able to manage itself without using “government” of some sort. That’s a human limitation, built into us by millions of years of evolution. Maybe related to the carrying capacity of ape-like hunter gatherers or something… but real for all that… related to Dunbar’s number.

    http://www.dennisfox.net/papers/commons.html

    Taylor pointed out that the lowered level of voluntary cooperation typically found in large groups and nations does not necessarily mean that the state has to be strengthened; just as logical is the conclusion that society should be reorganized as a network of smaller groups that would encourage a sense of belonging and enhance cooperation.

    Hutterite communities fall into this category.

    The point here is that if you wish to have larger communities than this, abiding by our limitations, you have to have the law, and the state, and all that goes with it. This is not really optional in the real world. The Hutterites would not survive if they were not protected by the larger state, its military and its laws.

    Community can only be from bottom up if you stay under Dunbar’s number limitations. That pretty much lets out anything larger than a roadside tavern and gas-station.

    I understand what you want. I think that there is a real reason why you can’t get it, and why no major human society or national entity has ever managed it.

    BJ

  5. bjchip:

    I’ll read your post properly when I have time (gotta got to work) but I will say I believe in even international-scale community. The question is where do the boundaries of responsibility fall on any given level, from the tribe to the globe.

    Central government, for the most part, should get well out of people’s education and “tribal” level community…the latter being the true community level, not just social organisation.

    Where do you put the zones, and the responsibilities within the zones? That’s the real question. Socialism is where the national scale is a virtual parent in our lives. No thank you!

  6. “Despite any perceived benefits for Indonesian cookery classes or basket weaving for beginners, the (finite) taxpayers purse has far greater demands on it than pandering to the social needs of lonely 30-something women seeking some human interaction and false sense of acheivement.”

    Idiotic and ignorant.

    This isn’t so much a question of spending, but the way money is spent. Trying to run any sort of programme with a yearly funding cycle is close to impossible. The community sector everywhere has been trying to get funding spread over a longer time period to enable forward planning, but the bureaucrats just seem unable to understand the issue. Maybe the bureaucracise should be given similar constraints? Tell them next year’s funding isn’t guaranteed and they’ll have to compete for it with other funding distribution agencies.

  7. “The Hutterites would not survive if they were not protected by the larger state, its military and its laws.”

    Rubbish. More independent communities have been destroyed by the state or its militaries than were ever protected by it. States stir up fears, petty jealousies and nationalism in order to gain the support of their subjects, or failing that, their fearful acquiescence.

  8. Following on from my previous post here, I will make a point on Maoridom and Maori language:

    Some people want to put Maori language into our schools, and some want to make it compulsory. In my view Maoridom is eating the devils apple in pushing for this because they are, before anything, supporting the premise that central government should be defining their culture.

    The best thing Maoridom can do is say ‘leave us be’ and demand that education be formed by individual communities from the bottom-up. They should be asking for freedom – not enforcement!

  9. Sam – Where the state does not actually protect them they do not survive. I did not claim that the state always or even usually, protects them, I was pointing out that they cannot expect continued survival without that protection.

    I am pointing out a fundamental limitation of small community organization, which is their vulnerability to larger communities. The necessity of some sort of larger government is real. This brings with it all the freight of regulations, laws and socialization that Andrew is so keen to avoid.

    BJ

  10. If a community of 200 or so people organizes itself it can have a meeting hall that doubles as a school. The school will in fact be a community hub.

    I don’t see this as a problem if it is applied to a larger school and community.

    BJ

  11. Central government, for the most part, should get well out of people’s education and “tribal” level community…the latter being the true community level, not just social organisation.

    True but not true. Central government is responsible for arranging to PAY for the schooling resources, and has a responsibility to ensure that those resources are equally available to all its citizens. After that it gets sticky, because some people are more interested in the money than in the education that it provides or the equality that has to be a factor in providing the education.

    That central government should not be defining curriculum or trying to standardize testing… not so much argument there. The conflict between the finance people and the education people is a long a bitter one.

  12. Quote: “Central government is responsible for arranging to PAY for the schooling resources, and has a responsibility to ensure that those resources are equally available to all its citizens.”

    I have always said that when the government hooks itself up to education via a tax-and-subsidy cycle it inherits a controlling stake in education, to ensure tax-payers money is “well spent”. That’s why they should pull out altogether, financially, and only help out where truly required.

    Dependency and control go together, hand in hand. It’s wrong to *artificially* create dependency.

  13. “Where the state does not actually protect them they do not survive. ”

    From all my reading of anti-state history (which is a pretty small field of writing as most historians take a Hobbesian pro-state and pro-‘Great Men’ viewpoint, or a simply uninterested in examining anything outside of the history of government) it appears small communities do just fine, get along with their neighbours in most cases, then get swallowed up or crushed when they come into contact with a state.

    This huge bias in our historical records and in the teaching and recording of history really prejudices our thinking.

  14. Andrew

    It isn’t artificial. It is a natural result of our own limitations and the competitive social meme that gives advantage to larger communities.

    BJ

  15. Sam

    You prevent them from coming into contact with a “State” ( which is after all just a larger community ) – how?

    I understand the basic premise that the state is partly a necessary evil and mostly an unnecessary one. I simply don’t agree that it is as “unnecessary” as some people think it is, or should be.

    BJ

  16. A state isn’t ‘just a larger community’ – it’s a particular form of community with a hierarchical social organisation and particular other characteristics.

  17. A state isn’t ‘just a larger community’ – it’s a particular form of community with a hierarchical social organisation

    Can one have a hierachical structure in a true democracy?

    Or does a “state” always have to have noters at the top heirarchical table and plebs at the bottom of the structure grovelling for scraps falling of the top table?

    Surely the problem in our societies are heirarchical state structures pretending to be democracies?

    This present heirachical state is no more a democracy by continuing with asset sales and not repealling S59 of the crimes act.

    Two pieces ot heirachical state control over the democratic feelings of the communites they pretend to represent.

  18. “they have now been told they have to return any unspent funds after one year”
    That’s a crazy way to fund things. I have heard that is also the case with roading, which is why in just before the end of the (budgeted) year, you’ll see perfectly good roads being dug up and resealed or else their budget will be cut for the following year.
    Gerrit, one big difference between the (perceived) undemocractic nature of S59 and selling our assets is the number of votes in the house to pass the legislation. S59 ~92% in favour. Selling our Assets ~51%.

  19. Sam

    The connection is that the LARGER community has to take on those characteristics in order to organize itself as something larger than the limits imposed by Dunbar’s number. That larger community has the advantages of size that allow it to dominate smaller communities, and it has the characteristics that Andrew is trying to avoid. Can’t get the size without bringing in the organization.

    The size is a bigger advantage to survival than the friendliness of the smaller community. The ideal we pursue is to try to make the larger organization as friendly as the smaller community. This fails to varying degrees but it is not an entirely vain pursuit.

  20. bjchip:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. Taking tax and then returning it via welfare, when the individual would have been at least as well off just spending their money for themselves (as in education), is an artificial dependency.

  21. Andrew

    Focus is not on the individual, but on the society. I will answer you better when I am back from work. Have to go now, but I understand we are not talking about the same thing exactly.

    BJ

  22. bjchip:

    I actually very much agree with your first posting. I think that to make a ‘big society’ work you need to educate the “tribes” in a specific manner so as to allow your big society to work, and we instinctively do this. For example, we train our young to speak a standardised language (and put pressure on them to this end) and also train them to be strict with conduct-standards so as to facilitate trust among strangers ie. we don’t allow “defend your tribe right or wrong”…we demand “what is right must come first”, etc.

    There are probably many examples you could identify as civilization training. And is it any surprise that the biggest integrative problems we have with immigrants seem to relate to those who come from more tribal cultures? Just a thought.

    …but yes, this is an off-topic insight.

  23. There are probably many examples you could identify as civilization training. And is it any surprise that the biggest integrative problems we have with immigrants seem to relate to those who come from more tribal cultures? Just a thought.

    @AA

    Probably corollary rather than causal given that the ‘integrative problems’ are as a result of the circumstance (i.e. fleeing war, lawlessness or persecution in the home nation) rather than cultural.

    There doesn’t seem to be a huge problem with say Fa’a Samoa tribal / authority structures plugging into the NZ way of life.

  24. “And is it any surprise that the biggest integrative problems we have with immigrants seem to relate to those who come from more tribal cultures?”

    Can you justify this comment? I’d have thought the biggest intergration issue we have comes from British-born immigrants who point blank refused to integrate with the local culture and successfully demanded the local culture adopt their language, customs and forms of government.

    If you are talking, as I assume, about modern immigrants ability to integrate with the currently dominant immigrant culture, who are you suggesting is the most ‘tribal’?

    “we don’t allow “defend your tribe right or wrong””

    Actually we do. Pakeha get awful hostile to any challenges to their way of life and this is seldom questioned by anyone. The ruling class defend their class interests with complete disregard for anyone else. Debates about ‘what is right’ are completely marginalised in today’s society and dismissed as a ‘luxury’ by most commentators.

  25. Sam Buchanan:

    Yes civilization was forced onto Maori. I was talking about integrating into a civilization – not whether or not we should all be living in a civilization.

  26. “civilization was forced onto Maori.”

    First time I’ve heard a system based on land theft, military superiority, racism and the rule of the hereditary elite called ‘civilisation’. You got a dictionary published in North Korea perhaps?

  27. I thought ‘civilisation’ meant ‘a society that has prisons.

    (from the Latin ‘civili’ – citizens – and Old English ‘Sat On’. Hence Civili Sat I On – “I (the ruler) have sat on the citizens.)

  28. My favourite quote on civilisation – when Ghandi was asked what he thought of western civilisation he said it would be a good idea!

  29. Catherine,

    Are you familiar with Charlotte Iserbyt? Here is a quote from her:

    “Community education is communism”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puzO-oW9e8c

    Iserbyt was a professional insider high within the USA education administration, and has been recognised as a leading whistle blower to what has allegedly being going on in American education. She believes that it is straight out of the communist manifesto. I wanted to link it for you because what you describe as “the heart of green policy” is exactly what Iserbyt has dedicated her life to warning people against.

    Btw: We’ll know we are a true full-blown communist national when children’s career paths are directly choosen for them by the state.

    It might pay to listen to Iserbyt because, really, who knows what’s going in inside those class rooms of ours. And NZ is directly influenced by “international standards” in education.

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