Workers, Workplaces and the Working Class: lifelong learning in South Wales. Gareth Rees Cardiff School of Social Sciences Cardiff University. Agenda. I want to use historical and contemporary research to raise questions about adult learning My lecture has three parts:
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Workers, Workplaces and the Working Class: lifelong learning in South Wales
Cardiff School of Social Sciences
‘I went up and this tutor fellow saw me about June  … and he gave me a long list of books, you know, to read before I came up [in October] and when I told him I had read so and so, he just didn’t believe me! And he said “Well, where would you get these books?” And I said “Tredegar Workmen’s Library”’.
‘ …sought to raise the working class in general, not to assist those of ability to leave their class background. Yet, despite the rhetoric … it was the activist, the bright energetic and visionary elements amongst the working classes that were to be the main targets of workers’ education.’
‘“Here, boy, are two volumes of a book I want you to take…” … I read the title, Don Quixote of la Mancha. “You see, boy” continued the librarian “I want you to read these for the pleasure I know they will give you; but also … because the translation … can give you a knowledge of good English.’
‘…miners took their sons to work with them, leading them carefully through the dangers of the mine and teaching them all the skill with hand and head that many years in the darkness had given them.’
‘“Oh, you will be coming to work with me.” … I remained with him for seven years, which was your allotted span before you could go into a place of your own.’
‘The American gave me a booklet, explained the workings of the machine and the electric circuit, then I had a trial run.’ Following this, ‘I was given a blue paper vesting authority for the handling of machinery and electricity and found myself a coal-cutter operator.’
‘You had a funny situation there. If you went is a clerk with 5 O-levels, then you could do further training. But if you were a shorthand typist, you tended to stay.’
‘You learn as you get along … You got to train yourself and you use your hands and ears. No-one came along and said “You mustn’t do this or you mustn’t do that” … I mean, common-sense will tell you not to do certain things … I can pick up most things purely by watching someone else doing it ….’