Friday, November 4, 2016

Keep Lakeview Open!

By Stephen Wilson

(Moscow, Russia) -- It is with great dismay and disbelief that I, and many other adult educators have learnt that 'The City Colleges of Chicago ' intends to close Lakeview Learning Centre by May 2017. They claim that the closure 'will help City colleges weather the storm', and save a few million dollars. But it sounds more like destructive rather than creative accounting!
Closing such a centre which provides at least a 1000 students with a free and accessible education system (for immigrants as well as offering a second chance to disadvantaged students) is not just a loss for Chicago. It represents a great loss to the World as well as the universal cause of Adult Education !
Lakeview Learning Centre is not just any college. It is something special.
It is a unique historical landmark of progressive education inspired by the Highlander Folk school In Tennessee and Jane Addams of Hull House, who was a prominent sociologist . Jane Addams was a great listener who argued
that teachers had to acknowledge the voice of experience of both adults and children . She stated that any education system should attempt to "give the child's own social experience a value''. She was part of a new radical way of doing sociology termed 'Symbolic Interactionism' which treated people not as mere data or objects of research but human beings with dignity. She eloquently argued that all people seek "an outlet for more kindness " and thought that sociology should become part of this quest.

Folklorists appreciated how the Highlander Folk School taught courses of 'square dancing' as well as the history of the working class.
The closure of Lakemore not only means a loss of teaching jobs and student places but it will kill a community !
But the attack on Lakemore Learning Centre also represents an assault on a great vision of education where people are not only offered a second chance and the hope of new opportunites . It is a vision of an education system which empowers people with the faith to construct a kinder, more
caring and improved society. In other words the good society dreamt by Martin Luther King and Jane Addams.
This threatened closure reminds me of the brief closure of Scotland's only Adult Education residential college during the 1980's . The college was also a historical landmark (a former Medieval abbey ) and unique because it was the only adult residential college where adults with few or no qualifications could study for free and even prepare for entry to universities. But the Tory government closed it as it 'deemed it too expensive '. However, Adult educators and students did not give up and launched an indefatigable campaign to reopen the college. And they won! Newbattle Abbey College in Scotland is now open and doing a great job again ! The Motto of the college was: " Sero Sed Serio', meaning 'Late but in Earnest'. What it means is that it is never too late for adults to learn or get a second chance.
We should be eager and earnest to defend Lakeview Learning Centre so that it is never too late for immigrants or other people to enter education!

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