I’m writing a discussion paper on comparative studies in adult education, an area of academic research that seems to me in trouble. As so often is the case, I have been side-tracked, thanks to a discussion with a German colleague and friend who mentioned the 1929 World Conference on Adult Education. This was the first event of its kind, so I wanted to find out more.
Google took me straight to a report in a Tasmanian newspaper, which focused on why Australia wasn’t represented on the council of the newly-created World Association of Adult Education (details here). As you can see, the Times on the other hand took a rather British-centred and colonial perspective.
Since then I’ve searched the digital archive of the Times, which covered the conference in remarkable detail: as well as a preview on 12 August, it reported daily on the proceedings from the 23rd to the 30th. On the first day, the Times reported on the welcoming speech by Sir Charles Trevelyan, President of the Board of Education (the post normally known as minister for education) and one of a lengthy queue of prominent opening speakers.
Trevelyan, reassuringly for the affluent readers of the Times, particularly emphasised the role on adult education in making the labour movement respectable. Whether he believed this, or simply used it as a persuasive argument to appeal to the wealthy and powerful, is for you to decide.This is a rich resource, and I will no doubt return to it in future posts. Let me finish with a question: can you imagine the Times of today reporting from the conference of the International Council for Adult Education, successor body of the World Association?