Monday, November 9, 2020

Paul F. Armstrong: a short appreciation of a generous life

I and many colleagues were sad to learn of the death of a dear colleague Dr Paul Armstrong, on the 31st May 2020, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Paul was a generous, caring man and colleague. He was always mindful of others, what they said and wrote, and maybe this interest in people and their stories brought him to the life history method to which he made a major academic contribution. More of that in a moment.

Paul Armstrong held a number of posts in university adult education: at Leeds, Hull and Birkbeck College, University of London. He worked in further education too.  At Leeds, he was based at the Middlesbrough Adult Education Centre and contributed to the provision of a varied part-time accredited liberal adult education programme across Teesside and North Yorkshire. He was an inspiring, tireless teacher, for whom students always came first. He tirelessly fought for adult education at Birkbeck, at a time when the Department of Adult Education was struggling, despite the College’s roots being in part-time study for adults. Birkbeck was a place, at least for a while, where adult education was taken seriously as an academic discipline, and this work was close to Paul’s heart.

Paul was a key member of the Standing Conference on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults (SCUTREA) for more than 30 years. Here is a contribution to be savoured.  He was SCUTREA’s Chair, Secretary, archivist, communications officer and photographer at various times. He would hire a minivan and transport people to and from rail stations. Nothing was beneath his dignity. Paul, in all these senses, was SCUTREA. He compiled a CD-ROM containing all the papers from SCUTREA conferences over a 25-year period: it sits here on my desk. Old technology, I know, but still of value. It was used by the British Education Index, and the entire collection went online. Paul was also part of the influential Kellogg exchange with colleague adult educators in the USA; and later with Canadian, European and Australian adult educators, using diverse lifelong learning networks. He will be missed by colleagues in the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education and the Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education as well as by other colleagues across the English speaking world.  

Paul published one of the first systematic accounts of life history as a research methodology in the United Kingdom (Armstrong 1987). What characterises the work was good, even inspiring writing, but also an Annotated Bibliography, encompassing sociology, psychology, feminism as well as adult education. This was characteristically Paul: drawing together a range of resources that others could then exploit. He was a great support to others, like me, who were attracted to the method, and its epistemological as well as methodological assumptions about really worthwhile knowledge. He wrote that ‘the life history is documenting the inner, subjective reality as constructed by individuals themselves, showing how they interpret, understand and define the social world around them, but at the same time, the life history method is able to convey a sense of process (Armstrong, 1987: 8). Of people and lives in movement – like the proverbial adult learner, beginning to see and experience the world in a quite different light – where meanings are made and remade in the company of others. Coming alongside, seriously listening to what is being said, and turning stories into life history – via interpretation and theory – asks a great deal of our humanity, and Paul did all that rather well, as  a thoroughly magnanimous human being.

When I published my first book – Beyond fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis -  partly born out of frustration at forms of research that most often excluded the human subject  - he was generous in praise. He came to the launch, and remarked to this nervous author, ‘Linden, it is so good to see life history done professionally’. That captures something of Paul, as a man, colleague, adult educator and chronicler of people’s lives. A generosity of spirit and an empathic sensibility for which we owe a great deal. I understand he suffered much from illness in recent years. But his memory, and his life story as an adult educator, will stay with me, as it will countless colleagues. Thankyou Paul for your generosity, and your warm capacity to give and receive from others: the essence of the inspiring adult educator and human being.

Dr Linden West., Professor of Education, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.

Reference

Armstrong, P.F. (1987) The life history method in theory and practice. Newland Papers. social and educational research. Hull: School of Adult and Continuing Education.     

Ps I am grateful for some notes produced by Nod Miller, Miriam Zucas and Rebecca O’Rourke in crafting this appreciation. 

 


Friday, June 19, 2020

New SCUTREA Council to take up honorary positions from October 2020


The new SCUTREA Council will take office from October 2020.  Elected members take honorary positions for three years.

SCUTREA COMMITTEE

Bonnie Slade - Chair
Nicola Dickson - Secretary
Olivia Harrison- Treasurer
Sarah Galloway - Membership Secretary
Sharon Clancy - Communications Officer


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

SCUTREA Council Meeting and AGM - NOW VIRTUAL

Dear Council members, 

In view of the current circumstances we have taken the decision to cancel the face-to-face AGM at Birbeck on the 7th May 2020. Instead we propose to host a virtual meeting on this day via SKYPE. 

This online event will take place from 10am-12.30pm with the following timings: 
  • 10am: SCUTREA council meeting (for honorary and council members only).
  • 11.30am: SCUTREA AGM, open to anyone who wishes to attend.

We will provide more details closer to the time regarding the virtual forum. 

Honorary Treasurer Vacancy

Dear Members and Friends,

We are extending our call to recruit a Honorary Treasurer to the SCUTREA council. The role will be available from October 2020. Details about the Treasurer role can be found below.  Expressions of Interest, including an up-to-date CV, should be sent to nrj7@le.ac.uk by 1 st May 2020 so that the Council will have the time to look at the interests at its Council meeting and AGM to be held on 7th May 2020.

Many thanks and I look forward to your expression of interest.

Best wishes,
Dr Nalita James
SCUTREA Chair


Honorary Treasurer Vacancy

Cancellation of AEGT2020 in Vancouver

During the past week, a growing number of travel restrictions, health advisories/directives, and cancellations of “mass gatherings” have been announced around the world. “Social distancing”—the opposite of what AEGT2020 is about—is being adopted rapidly as the “new normal.” Faculty, staff and students at universities around the world are being asked to self isolate and use various technologies to continue their academic work from home. Given these circumstances, the decision has been made to cancel the AEGT2020 conference in Vancouver.  More detail can be found in the link below.

Notice of cancellation   

Monday, March 2, 2020

SCUTREA AGM Meeting to be held on Thursday 7th May 2020


Dear Colleagues,

This is a reminder about the forthcoming SCUTREA AGM Meeting to be held on Thursday 7th May 2020, at Room 101, 30 Russell Square, Birkbeck, University of London.

This meeting is going to be very important for the organisation as we will be approving the new Honorary Officer posts for Chair, Treasurer and Membership Secretary and SCUTREA 2021 conference.

The meeting will be followed by a Research Seminar on Adult Education and Community Activism.

Research Seminar: Adult Education and Community Activism
For those practicing/researching in the field of adult education in the UK it seems we are operating in the ruins of a once well recognised and funded terrain  Over the past two decades, the closure of Centres of Lifelong Learning in universities predominately across England and Wales; the eradication of funding and adult education programmes in FE; the closure of local government provision has resulted in what feels like the extinction of adult education. However, one area where adult education is alive and some may argue ‘flourishing’ is in community activism. This event aims to bring together researchers, practitioners and those with an interest in the area of adult education and community activism to reinvigorate the field of adult education. Research on community activism and adult education will be presented to stimulate discussion, including identifying pressing areas for ongoing research.

Invited speakers include:
·         Cassie Earl, Lancaster University
·         Emmanuel Gotora, The East London Citizens Organisation (TELCO) 
·         Greg Coyne, Workers Educational Association
·         Jeni MacKay, Queen Margaret University
·         Mae Shaw,  University of Edinburgh
·         Palmela Witter, Freelance consultant

The programme will be as follows:
9.45-11.00am              SCUTREA Council Meeting   - Private meeting 
11.00am-12.00pm       SCUTREA  AGM - All Welcome

Seminar
12.00-12.45pm           Registration for Seminar/LUNCH
12.45-1.30pm              3 speakers
1.30- 1.50pm               Small group discussion
1.55-2.40pm                3 speakers
2.40-3.15pm                Small group discussion
3.15-3.30pm                Afternoon tea
3.30-4.00pm                Wrap up session
4.00-4.30pm                Chat and another cup of tea for those who can stay longer
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you wish to register your attendance for the SCUTREA meeting and Research Seminar please email: Nic Dickson n.dickson.1@research.gla.ac.uk

I look forward to seeing you in May.
Best wishes,


Friday, January 24, 2020

SCUTREA Council and AGM Meeting


I am giving you upcoming notification of the SCUTREA Council and AGM Meeting  to be held on Thursday 7th May 2020, at Birkbeck, University of London.

This meeting is going to be very important for the organisation as we will be approving the new Honorary Officer posts for Chair, Treasurer and Membership Secretary and SCUTREA 2021 conference.

The meeting will be followed by a Research Seminar on Adult Education and Community Activism

Research Seminar: Adult Education and Community Activism
For those practicing/researching in the field of adult education in the UK it seems we are operating in the ruins of a once well recognised and funded terrain  Over the past two decades, the closure of Centres of Lifelong Learning in universities predominately across England and Wales ;the eradication of funding and adult education programmes in FE; the closure of local government provision has resulted in what feels like the extinction of adult education. However, one area where adult education is alive and some may argue ‘flourishing’ is in community activism. This event aims to bring together researchers, practitioners and those with an interest in the area of adult education and community activism to reinvigorate the field of adult education. Research on community activism and adult education will be presented to stimulate discussion, including identifying pressing areas for ongoing research.

The programme will be as follows:
9.30-10.00am     Registration and refreshments
10.00-12.00pm   SCUTREA Council Meeting and AGM
12.00-12.45pm   LUNCH
12.45 -2.15pm    Panel, 4-5 x 20min think pieces - Adult Education and Community Activism
2.15-3.15pm       Themed discussion groups
3.15-3.30pm       Afternoon tea
3.30-4.00pm       Large discussion
4.00-4.15pm       Close

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you wish to register your attendance for the SCUTREA meeting and Research Seminar please email: Nicola Dickson n.dickson.1@research.gla.ac.uk

I look forward to seeing you in May.
Best wishes,

Nalita
SCUTREA CHAIR