The Grit in the Oyster – does an appreciation of threshold concepts in an adult literacies teaching qualification result in pearls of practice

David Wallace


This paper draws from the experiences of a new adult literacies teaching qualification in Scotland that has been designed for experienced but unqualified adult literacies tutors.  Created to respond to an approach to adult literacies as social practices (Scottish Executive 2001, 2005, Tett et al 2006), the course team employs a sociocultural pedagogy that explicitly rejects transmission and seeks to build critical reflection through learning from experience, collaborative activities and the creation of an on-line community (Ackland and Wallace 2006).  Recognising that ‘moments of conflict and disjuncture may form the spaces in which learning occurs’ (Lewis, Enciso and Moje 2007:5) the paper explores whether ideas about liminality and threshold concepts (Cousin 2006:1, Land, Meyer and Smith 2008) illuminate the learning process.  It concludes that engagement with these concepts may assist adult literacies tutors to develop transformed practice (Cope and Kalantzis 2003:35).

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