This article argues for the continued importance of adult education in communities, an approach to adult education which has been maligned and ignored in policy that has, instead, incessantly prioritised employability skills training. The significance of adult education in communities is that it seeks to build the curriculum from the interests, aspirations, and problems that people experience in their everyday lives by providing opportunities for individual and collective change (more below). We draw on data taken from a study by one of the authors, which used a life history approach to explore the outcomes for 14 people from the deindustrialised North East England of participation in either employability skills training or community adult education. We document several themes through these stories: churning, surveillance, precarity, demoralisation, ontological insecurity, and personal renewal.
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