In search of the abstract quality : an investigation into the nature of community education, with particular reference to the development and implementation of a policy in one English county
This thesis has three strands: an investigation into policy and practice in community education, with particular reference to Derbyshire; an exploration of a rationale for setting debate about the concept of community/education within a discourse of spirituality; an autobiographical/ reflective narrative which seeks to explain how professional and personal interests underpinning the first two strands became interwoven in their present form, and with what consequences for the content and structure of the thesis. Its core comprises the empirical work in chapters three to six. Based on information derived from questionnaires, interviews, participant observation, minutes and reports, this describes and analyzes the development and implementation of Derbyshire's community education policy. The role of the Community Tutor is highlighted, together with the perceptions of Tutors and lay members of Community Education Councils of the work in which they were engaged. The latter appear as a SWOT analysis, intended to inform continuing practice. Chapter two contextualizes the empirical section by providing an historical overview of ideas and issues that have influenced the development of education, and especially of community schooling, in England. It discusses a number of typologies of community education. Chapters one and seven articulate a personal understanding of `spirit', its place in contemporary thought, and its possible relationship with `community'. Chapter eight focuses on community itself. It suggests that an `abstract quality'is often sensed in community activities. This influences the use of the term but is not encapsulated in existing definitions. It may be understood in terms of spirituality. Chapter nine draws the strands together. It illustrates how a spiritual dimension might be added to one particular typology, and explores a possible relationship between existing discourses in community education and concepts of spirituality. Implications for practice are noted. Parallels are drawn between the content of the thesis and the process of writing it. Finally, chapter ten provides an update on recent developments in Derbyshire and locates them within the broader context of human development.