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Education as a means of enabling former offenders to live meaningful and productive lives: an Autoethnography

O'Connor, Colin (2019) Education as a means of enabling former offenders to live meaningful and productive lives: an Autoethnography. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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Abstract

This study reports the findings of a three-year investigation, which documented the learning experiences of former offenders. My research is informed by a concern about different perceptions of what counts as appropriate provision for Education, Training and Employment (ETE hereafter) offender initiatives that show a tendency to treat ex-offenders in an unhelpful and unproductive manner. Drawing on my own experiences as a former offender, and in later years as a practitioner, mentor and teacher working in numerous provisions since 2004, I contend that the current system of ETE initiatives are, in the main, failing to address the complex and non-conventional learning requirements of those who struggle to adapt to traditional modes of learning. My inspiration for this thesis was grounded in the belief that for some offenders, including those with substance misuse problems, education can help support and foster a more contented and fulfilled way of living.

My aim was to explore with the men other ways of teaching, learning and service user engagement. I describe how my complicated life history became a valuable pedagogical resource, which enabled me to work in ways that were shown to enrich the life chances and perspectives of other former offenders. My research explores the educational benefits of working in a more caring, compassionate and trusting manner, freed from traditional time restraints. During the previous fourteen years, the people with whom I have worked have highlighted my capacity to connect through authentic communication, as perhaps the most fundamentally compelling aspect of my pedagogy. Rogers (1961) theorised that when positive regards between persons is unconditional, the human condition is more likely to flourish, as is client growth and development through the quality of relationships. However, the magnitude of this change, if any, cannot be predicted; personal growth and achievement are unique to the person.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4879

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