Lifelong learning in the arts : policy and practice in Ireland
This study will examine the conditions impinging on lifelong learning systems to foster participation in the political, social economic and cultural life of society. The research will monitor the manner in which policy and systems of lifelong learning become more cognisant of and responsive to the needs and entitlements of the human person. The aim of the study is to investigate the distinctive role played by the arts in effecting a cultural shift in the provision of lifelong learning. It will seek to bring a distinctive contribution to our understanding of the part played by the arts in giving people an authentic share in society. 'The arts', reflected in events, processes and manifestations occurring in non-formal settings, are espoused as a significant place where some individuals and communities discover a place to participate meaningfully in society. It is not possible to adequately present this study in isolation from the policy and systems of lifelong learning. These policies and systems have come under increasing pressure to create the conditions for greater linkages between the aims and objectives of education, training and employment measures. The rationale for a convergence of education, training and employment aims will be explored, and the adequacy of an approach centred on integration and collaboration will be assessed. The analysis employed in the study was undertaken between 1994-2000. It was based on a process of theory testing utilising four methods of investigation and examination: (1) a review of national and international literature, (2) a survey, (3) a questionnaire and (4)specific focus group exercises. At the outset, new base line data was collated on nonformal learning provisions, i.e. Irish Post Leaving Certificate courses and community arts learning programmes. Post Leaving Certificate courses are state-led and take place within the education system. The community arts learning programmes under investigation are arts sector-led and broadly located within the state training system. A standardised classification system was developed that enabled the documentation of four learning programmes. The study will contend that changes and adaptations to the structures and systems of accreditation and certification are necessary to accommodate non-formal learning opportunities. Finally, an analysis will be undertaken of existing structures and systems, with particular focus on education and training practices within the community and youth arts sector. The distinctive role that the arts can play in effecting change in the culture of lifelong learning will be affirmed.