Adlitting is what we do. What is adlitting?

Adlitting is a platform for anyone who is interested in teaching and learning.

Adlitting lives in DALC (Dublin Adult Learning Centre) in Mountjoy Square, in Dublin’s North Inner City.  We are about meeting student needs and innovation in literacy, adult and further education. No matter where our students are from, no matter what they want to do, read or write, we are here to help them on the journey.

Through the transformative power of learning, we are helping to open a new world of possibilities, interest and fun. A new way of looking at the world.

Our blog is a window into the world of adult learning but also into learning and education for all – young and old – and the people and educators who want to share their stories. We learn from each other and we want to capture that learning, like butterflies in a jar. Those moments, those musings and that magic that happens in people’s lives and in the classroom. We want to pass on what we know.  We want to create a hub for ideas and a nerve center for learning.

Will you be here?

We are a window to learning. We are adlitting but we want you to be adlitting too. We hope you stop and stay awhile and add your story too:

Please email fionnaighc@hotmail.com or fionnaighdalc.@gmail.com if you wish to be a guest blogger.  We would love to hear your thoughts and insights into any aspect of  teaching,  education and learning.
book book pages browse education
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Looking For The Story Inside

 

flats

I have an album
where I keep photos
of places I have lived
places I have visited
people I have known
people I have loved
those photos
those films
are not in a book
not in a computer
not even on a memory stick
I keep them wirelessly
in my mind
By Paul Hansford

 

Every Thursday morning for the last number of weeks, a group have been looking at old photographs in the hope of writing about them.  The white walls of the basement in Number 3 Mountjoy Square are a blank slate, ready to be filled with these pictures, mounted beside the stories, the poems and the memories of the group. The plan is to produce a permanent exhibition of sorts, to bring life to the photographs and create a story from them.

The photographs are mainly of scenes, places and people of 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s Dublin, sourced from local historians, donated from people or taken from newspapers or publications where they have appeared.  For some in the group, they are a familiar picture of their childhood. For others, they know the people in the photographs and talk about what they remember.  For most a photograph inspires a time and a place that they had forgotten about.  We have heard stories of swimming in Spencer Dock, of going into a local shop for sweets like lucky lumps, a stick of rock, a chocolate cigarette.  We have heard about the tight knit communities of the past, how the city was theirs for the taking – collecting old wheels to make a trolley for spinning down hills and over cobblestones, collecting winkles at the beach.  We have heard about mothers hanging out washing and calling from balcony windows to children playing with hoops to ‘come in for their dinner’.

We have heard that our stories are at times different but mostly are all the same.

There is something about looking at an old photo.  There are no words, yet we read it. We make assumptions about the faces staring back at us. We imagine who the people are in it.  We wonder what life was like in the world of the photograph – the shoeless children, the aproned grandmothers smiling as the camera takes a snap. The shoulder-to-shoulder schoolchildren, the surprised old men standing on corners, one with a pipe, looking nonchalantly away from the camera. Or a group of children at the beach. Is the world in the photograph different to our world now and if it is, why?

Everyone has a photograph, people and places they know, of strange characters in the background or curiosities in the foreground. Or if not a photograph, everyone has a memory, a place that they want to write about or learn more from. All of us have questions to be answered – about our family, our community and about our world.

In a way, we ‘read’ photographs to look for the story.  We do the same with the words in a book or in a newspaper article.  We have questions we want answers to. We strive to link what we see to our story. Do we have a similar one? Do we have a different one? What is that about? What is that telling me? What do I understand?

The project has inspired many more questions and avenues of discovery.  What was society like then? How widespread was poverty in the inner city? Why has the area changed so much in the government of Leo Varadkar that has perhaps allowed investors to come in and build fancy new apartments? Someone mentioned that there was a local resident’s community to allow people to air their views. Another asked how much power do locals have anyway about what happens in their street or local area?  One man brought in an article about the housing crisis that we read in the group.

We also had unexpected learning too. Budgeting for one, as we had to work out the cost of buying frames in IKEA! One week a man in the group asked how to trace his family tree. He wanted to find to more about family history on his father’s side.  One woman wrote a story she had forgotten. A story from the dusty corners of her mind about the ballroom in Parnell Street that she frequented in her youth, the place she met her husband. She looked into the middle distance and remembered her youth with a sigh. Her grandchildren were now that age and she concluded that nothing ever changes.

The group have been doing something much more profound and unexpected during this project, having their questions answered and developing their voice and creativity in a supportive environment.  They have begun to unearth a world of possibilities to be read and to be learned about. The world of the personal, the public, a world of education. Learning can open a wealth of conversations – stories to tell and stories to read about. It is only the beginning.

prams.jpg

Engaging with Ulysses in the Classroom

The superior, the very reverend John Conmee S. J, reset his smooth watch in his interior pocket as he came down the presbytery steps. Five to three. Just nice time to walk to Artane. (Episode 10, Wandering Rocks from Ulysses by James Joyce)

20190527_125436.jpg

 

There is no doubt that Ulysses is often referred to as a ‘difficult book to read’, described as confusing, perhaps elitist, not for the everyday man but for the lofty professor. For this reason, the idea of approaching it with a group of adults who are gaining more confidence with their reading can seem a risky prospect. Yet sometimes engaging with the ‘hard books’ can be the most rewarding and liberating of accomplishments. What an achievement to wrestle the animal that is Ulysses, tame it and shape it into something of your own!

Since December 2018, a group on Thursday mornings here in DALC have been working on an art piece that illustrates Episode 10 of Ulysses. The group worked independently for the last few months on creating a map that shows Father Conmee making his way around Dublin in the afternoon and the various characters he meets. It details the street as mentioned in Ulysses, from Gardiner Street, Mountjoy Square to Newcomen Bridge.

The project began from a workshop on Pre-Texts delivered by one of our tutors Lisa Kilbride. Pre-Texts is a method of engaging active readers through finding creative or artistic ways of tackling difficult texts. Here are Lisa’s reflections on using Pre-Texts on this project:

“Much of my focus in teaching literacy is on reading functional everyday texts, but people also need to be able to engage with more complex texts in order to deal with bigger issues affecting them.

The literacy aim of Pre-Texts is to get people to engage with complex texts, ones that are perhaps too difficult for them to read without support, in order to make them their own.
The title Pre-Texts is mischievous. If, instead of treating “important” writers with great reverence, we take their work and engage with it creatively, the power is shifted. In the process of making something new, we can think critically about the text, about ourselves and about our world.

The process is very engaging for students, and the tutors are participants rather than instructors. Pre-texts is an attempt to have tutors and students act together to find meaning in a text.

The map making activity was greeted with great enthusiasm and the participants got totally engaged in making a quite large model of the journey. We are all connected with the places in the text. DALC is in number 3 Mountjoy Square, so the journey in the text begins around the corner and passes along the square. One of the participants lived on Mountjoy square as a child and they all live in the areas mentioned – Fitzgibbon Street, along the North Circular Road, near the Five Lamps and the North Strand.

The students have been interested enough to continue with the creative work without the project being led by a tutor. It is useful to know about Ulysses and James Joyce if you live in this area. We often get stopped outside DALC by tourists lost on the Ulysses trail. The students enjoy knowing a bit about Joyce and being able to give directions to North Great Georges Street, which is nearby and the location of the James Joyce Museum. One of my aims was to diffuse the power of Ulysses as a high status cultural object. It is seen as difficult and unreadable by the ordinary person. I think that we have seen that it is only ink on paper and that we need not fear it. The students may not read any more of the book, but they can certainly discuss the early pages of The Wandering Rocks episode. The purpose of the using Pre-Texts here was also to take Joyce’s story and to use it to make our own story. Just as Joyce did, we can also create a story about the landmarks and characters of our Dublin. I hope that we are on our way to achieving this.”

 

 

The group interpreted it as their own from the words and images used by Joyce, mapping out the journey Father Conmee took in the text. The map below illustrates Episode 10 to include the streets, Mountjoy Square Park, the tram, the barge, the shops and buildings, the characters from Ulysses, dressed as described by Joyce:

20190527_125646.jpg

The group chose phrases and lines from the text and ‘layered’ it onto the piece:

20190527_125716.jpg

The text was used to prompt more writing and discussion about their own memories of the area, the places and people from their childhood:

20190527_125729.jpg

For more on pre-texts see:
http://www.pre-texts.org/

 

Using Icebreakers in the Classroom

find someone who

Icebreakers are a great resource in the educator’s toolkit and can serve a number of purposes when working with all kinds of groups.  Usually, icebreakers are used when a group meets for the first time, yet we have been using them regularly in our literacy groups to:

  • Help develop confidence with listening and speaking in a group
  • For encouraging the group to get to know each other better
  • To develop creative thinking and using your imagination
  • As a prompt to the work you may do in the classroom. The icebreaker could link to a reading text or writing exercise you may be covering
  • A chance to try something different if you reach a stalemate in your teaching and learning
  • For fun!

As it is coming to the end of term, we have made a comprehensive list of icebreakers we have used in the classroom during the year.  They can be adapted to suit the level, pace and interest of the group:

NAME AND INTRODUCTIONS ICEBREAKERS 

Gestures name game – stand up and say your name and make an action or gestures ‘My name is Tom and I like to play football’ while doing the action of kicking a ball. Everyone in group must remember the name and also the action.

Adjective name game – Think of a positive adjective to describe yourself with the same sound as the first letter of your name, eg. ‘I am fantastic Frank!’, ‘I am easygoing Elaine.’

Throw object/beanbag name game pattern – Everyone stand in a circle and throw a beanbag/soft toy/juggling ball to one person.  Say the person’s name as you throw it to them. See if you can remember the pattern of who you threw it to and repeat the same pattern.

Toilet paper game – Handout a roll of toilet paper and encourage group to take as many sheets as they like.  Once toilet roll is handed back to facilitator, the facilitator asks group to tell us as many things about themselves based on the number of sheets they took! For example, if they took three sheets, say three things about yourself.

Introduction Icebreaker – Choose a letter from alphabet to describe something about yourself – your hobby, what you like/don’t like, something you have done in the summer, your hopes and dreams.

Find someone who – (see picture above) Make a list of details about someone and walk around the room and tick which of them applies to anyone in your group!

MEMORY/ATTENTION ICEBREAKERS 

Memory / Kims game – Put a number of objects (usually about 12) on a tray in the middle of the room. Allow group to look at it for 2 mins. Cover objects and see who can remember them all.  More importantly, how did you remember all the objects? Did you group similar items to help you remember?

Tell the person beside you one thing you like about them. Share in larger group.

SPEAKING ICEBREAKERS 

One thing true – one thing false about yourself! We have to guess which are truths and which are lies! For example ‘I have two children and I went to Australia last year’ – two children is true, Australia trip is a lie.

Finish the story starting with one word. For example, facilitator says ‘tomorrow..’ and next person picks with story by adding one word only.  May also use phrases.

Chinese Whispers – One person in group whispers a sentence and each person passes it on to see if message gets delivered.

The lighthearted debate or either/or icebreaker – A fun exercise but can be used before exploring a more serious debate or discussion! Here are some lighthearted debate topics:

Tea of Coffee? / Spicy or Mild? / Hot or Cold? / North or South? / East or West?Water or Wine? / Bath or Shower? / Standing or Sitting? / Apple or Orange?Classical or Rock? / Comedy or Drama? / Take Out or Eat In? / Shoes or Bare feet / Ocean or Pool? / Hotel or Camping? / Books or Magazines? / Email or Snail Mail / Drive or Fly? / Country or City? / Mobile Phone or Landline? / Pants or Shorts?Meat or Vegetarian? / Dog or Cat? / Pepsi or Coca-Cola? / Man United or Liverpool? / Chocolate Cake or Cream Cake?

CATEGORIES AND CONCEPTS ICEBREAKERS 

Name a city, name a fruit, name a county, name a city, name a day of the week, name a month, name a food, name a piece of furniture, name something you wear, name a type of transport

Favourite food icebreaker – Go around room an ask everyone to describe their favourite breakfast, dinner, snack, dessert, drink.

Riddles – Write out riddles and answers on paper and encourage group to read them. Everyone else has to guess the answer. Some examples are:

  • What has a single eye but cannot see? Answer: A needle
  • I’m light as a feather, yet the strongest man can’t hold me for more than 5 minutes. What am I? Answer: Breath
  • I begin with T, end with T and I have T in me? What am I? Answer: A teapot
  • What belongs to you but others use it more than you do? Answer: Your name
  • I can travel around the world while staying in a corner. What am I? Answer: A stamp

Opposites – Make a list of opposites (hot/cold, open/closed, etc), cut them out on card and ask group to walk around the find their opposite!

Alphabet icebreaker – all line up in alphabetical order with first letter of your name

Birthday line up icebreaker – all line up in order of when your birthday is during the year (January birthdays at start of line, December at end and so on)

Rhymes – write a list of words on separate card. Put words in a box or envelope.  Each person picks out a word and must think of a rhyme for this word, Foe example, if they picked out the word ‘night’ the rhyme they may come up with is ‘sight’, etc.

IMAGINATIVE ICEBREAKERS 

If I was…..

  • If I was a day of the week, I would be….
  • If I was a famous person, I would be……
  • If you were on a desert island – what three things would you bring?
  • If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
  • If I was an animal, I would be……
  • If I was a colour, I would be…….
  • If I was president for the day, I would….
  • If I won 10 million I would….

If you could make a phone call to anyone in the world – famous, living or dead, who would it be and why?

 

adult african american woman business businessmen

 

 

A Student Perspective on Voting and Elections

The election coming up next Friday 24th May has brought politics into focus in the classroom.  Many are wondering what the difference between the local, European and divorce referendum means and we have been doing some work here in the centre in preparation for it.

A DALC student Patrick, gives his insights into why people can feel disengaged from politics and he shares his advice on the importance of making your vote count.

Firstly, we hear from Patrick about why he thinks there is a low voter turnout in the Dublin 1 area:

 

 

Patrick tells us why he feels people don’t engage with politics and what politicians can do about it:

 

Patrick gives us his view on The Constitution and why it needs to reflect the changing society in Ireland:

 

Finally, Patrick gives us his advice on why people should get out and vote in the upcoming election on Friday 24th May:

We had a recent visit in DALC from The Referendum Commission. Click on the link below to read the newspaper article about it:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/divorce-vote-we-re-changing-the-constitution-that-people-died-for-1.3892143 

 

 

 

 

person dropping paper on box
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Discovering Words

This is a story written by one of our students Paul.  He describes what it felt like to come to reading and writing classes.  Paul is a fantastic student and loves to do art, gardening and making things in his spare time.

His story powerfully captures what it feels like to come back to learning:

Paul H

 

 

Students of Mountjoy Square: Frewoini

Frewoini is a literacy and language student from Eritrea.  She is one of our most enthusiastic and motivated students here in DALC.  She comes to classes here every day.

20190329_110746

 

Here Frewoini talks about how independent she has become with her reading and writing. Now, she can go to lots of places. She can take a taxi and she can go to the GPO (General Post Office) alone.  She feels part of the centre and is making lots of friends here.

 

Frewoini finishes by telling us how coming to classes has given her more choices in life. She is planning to work in the future but more importantly, she is minding herself and she is happier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifts in Perspectives: What We Learned From Our Trip To Iceland

 

plates

 

The Thingvellier National Park is one of the most renowned tourist trips in Iceland.  It is about 45 kilometers north east of Reykjavik and part of the very popular Golden Circle tour.  The park marks the ridge caused by the separation of  two tectonic plates, where the two continents have moved – the Eurasian and North American continents. The scenery is stunning, creating an awe inspiring feeling of smallness.  It feels like a glimpse into history, a stunning vista that leaves you feeling this: that our short lives are only drops in the oceans of time.  This, by the way, is far from a gloomy prospect, more of a liberating experience.  It makes you realise with an optimistic sense of urgency that we can only do what we can with the short time that is given to us. It is a reminder to use it wisely.

We in DALC found ourselves in Iceland as part of a trip organised by the Erasmus Plus training programme to attend a three day workshop delivered by Planet Youth.  We had read a little about the Icelandic Prevention Model, as it gained some coverage in the Irish media.  The model was a commitment to reduce substance abuse among adolescents in Iceland.  The rate of teenage drinking back in the late 1990s was much higher and the model was developed as a way of tackling this.

How did they do it and what can we learn?

The model worked by committing to changing the social environment over time. It was a long term preventive plan that believed change was possible.  Instead of relying on the ‘just say no’ approach or on programmes delivered in schools, they decided to take a community approach – namely, to change the environment that would make such misuse impossible, taboo and ultimately unlikely.

We tend to place the responsibility on the individual to carry out their own prevention, but in the Icelandic Model – society is the patient. We know that some individuals and indeed some communities are more at risk of substance abuse and therefore it the culture of a community that needs to change.

Iceland is a story of change – a different story after 20 years.  It is about having the vision to change that story.  In the future, could we be telling a different story in Ireland?

It was this seismic shift that was needed to change the culture that had built up in Iceland and had allowed such misuse among teenagers to take place. The model is set on three pillars – 1. research (collecting data about the issues out there. With information we can examine the realities of our own community, rather than blindly making assumptions) 2. policy changes and 3. dialogue between people who worked for and with young people –  families, schools and communities.

In a nutshell, the model centers about directing adolescents and teenagers towards other pursuits – structured sports and classes.  They provided a Leisure Card that became a national policy used by all young people.  The involvement of the whole community also plays a significant role. Parents need to be involved in positive monitoring of their children, in spending more time with their children – not only for monitoring but to better develop relationships.  It involves having a supportive culture among parents to ensure they all think in the same way about substance abuse, freedom and safety.  It makes it easier to stop your child pushing the boundaries of trying alcohol or cannabis for the first time if all the others parents are on the same page. The model also centers around school engagement and developing positive peer group relationships.

Like all good ideas, entirely simple approaches yet ones that need to be driven by hard work and commitment as well as a positive buy-in from all members of the community.

waterfall iceland .jpg

What application does this model have for us here in Ireland? We know alcohol is a huge part of Irish culture and something we may find hard to challenge. A little like the way they think about guns in the US, we are not aware of how alcohol plays a central role in all our lives and this has to filter down to our teenagers. Some places in Ireland have already began to adopt the lessons from Iceland and many other places we hope will do the same. There is great work being done already through lots of organisations who work in substance abuse prevention and addiction services. Some fantastic prevention work is already being done in schools, families and communities.

The Icelandic model sees society as the patient, rather than blaming the individual for negative outcomes.  The prevention model focuses on altering the social and organisational environment that makes substance abuse impossible.

We as adult educators could begin this shift in changing cultural norms, or in envisaging the possibility of such a change in the first place. We can begin this important conversation and start moving the landscape through local meetings, parenting and education groups, to share the lessons learned in Iceland.

The Icelandic model was rooted in a vision to change the patterns of behaviour and the cultural norms, from government policy, to communities and to families. They had a plan to change what some people initially found impossible.

One evening on our trip, we walked to The Grotta Lighthouse – the place where local Icelanders go to see the Northern Lights. It was one of the coldest walks I can remember. We thought of turning back, we wondered was it worth it. At one point we lost our way as it was dark and Google maps had failed.
Yet our will to see the spectacle of the lights kept us going. We had a plan, we had a goal and so we kept going.  With a sense of purpose and working together, we got there in the end.

It is amazing what can be achieved when we do not lose sight of our vision.

northern lights

Training funded by: 

Image result for leargas

Find out more at:

https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/node_en 

https://www.leargas.ie/

https://planetyouth.org/