Seriously Useless Learning

12 September 2014

A book of the collected columns of former NIACE Chief Executive, Alan Tuckett, has been published today by NIACE and the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

The collection, Seriously Useless Learning, has been edited by former TES Assistant Editor (FE), Ian Nash, and covers a 15-year period from the mid-90s in what was a ‘turbulent period’ for adult education.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“These columns make fascinating reading. They track an extraordinary time in learning and skills in England. They record enormous hope and so many missed opportunities. They also provide an important commentary on the difficulties all governments face in implementing good policy.

“NIACE’s work has remained passionate, evidenced and optimistic, despite the profound misgivings we have with the impacts on adult learners. We have continued a legacy from Alan of what is evident throughout his columns, namely the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the spirit.

“I hope that people will not only enjoy reading these columns, but that we also learn from them the lessons for policy and implementation, making sure that we remain passionate and dogged in our fight for opportunities for all adults to be able to participate in and benefit from learning throughout their lives.”

Ian Nash said:

“Alan Tuckett insists that state spending on adult education is an investment not a cost. He does so with the support of an overwhelming bank of research and practical evidence, which politicians and policy makers all too conveniently attempt to refute or choose to ignore in times of austerity. That range of evidence and argument is cogently presented in the columns he wrote for me as his commissioning editor over many years.

“In recent days we have heard rallying cries from MPs in Parliamentary debate and from the BIS Select Committee seeking urgent action to improve adult literacy and numeracy. If politicians want hard evidence to support arguments with the Chancellor for more investment in lifelong learning beyond a narrow utilitarian diet of work-related skills, they will find it in Tuckett’s writings. It is one of many reasons why I felt the need to draw his arguments together in this book – and the fact that he is such an entertaining writer.”