The Child Abuse Report – Adults now Children then

I can’t let this week go by without commenting on the publication of the report on abuses in the Irish education system by members of religious orders.

The report was particularly scathing of the Christian Brothers.

I went to a Christian Brothers school and indeed was walloped, slapped and beaten like many others. There was violence in my schooling but also lots of good stuff and on balance I got away lightly.

In light of the report I wish to comment again on the phenomenon of Learning Identity – I talked about this in a previous blog.

As you might expect my ‘learning identity’ is made up of two components – my view of learning and my view of myself as a learner. For many adults, including the victims of abuse in educational institutions, learning identity established in childhood remains fixed throughout life.

The consequences of the deplorable schooling system are still being felt today – people have fragmented learning identies. For many, even to think about formal education will give rise to extreme anxiety.

As such, these people miss out on the opportunities to progress and to participate effectively in society.

For those of us involved in current adult education provision – we need to think first and foremost about how to deal with learning identity.

We have a lot of work to do rebuilding the trust and confidence of adult learners – convincing them that current pedagogic practice is not like school and that they have a lot to offer as lifelong learners.

We will never adequately compensate the victims but we should strive to limit the negative impact on their lives today.

Everyone has the right to learn throughout life – this is especially the case for those whose childhood opportunities were so cruelly denied.

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