Bridie Costello and Alice McDonnell

MA (Community Education, Equality and Social Activism) Graduates, Bridie Costello and Alice McDonnell.

MA (Community Education, Equality and Social Activism) Graduates, Bridie Costello and Alice McDonnell spoke to us about their experience of postgraduate education at Maynooth University and how it led to the formation of their own educational training company.

Current Education and Training policy dictates that adult education and training meets with the labour market needs. This inhibits different approaches to learning that build on a critical awareness in participants who question and interrogate the status quo and their experiences in society. This form of education is often referred to as radical education is general not market or skills driven, however, it has a greater beneficial rewards to the participants and society. A radical approach to education stimulates and develops ideas, problem solving and is of core
relevance to the current real life experience. This form of education and training is often met with barriers to participation as limited financial support exists. It is through our education that we have become critically aware of how systems and structures can curtail creative thinking and alternative approaches. Through our studies we developed greater insight into the change that come about when people have a common bond. Revolutions and movements including industrial, civil rights, women’s, etc. all brought about change through connecting people.

Our awareness fueled us towards providing local access to education and training. On the 1st of February 2012, we officially launched Le Chéile Adult Education, Research & Consultancy (‘Le Chéile’ means ‘Together’.) The merging of our ideals and practices with business requirements has challenged us, and rightly so. Radical Education generates a shift away from norm; through the creation of different dialogues and practices, new thinking that questions, explores, creates and is innovative thus stimulating change. We have found that this alternative approach can generate a real fear of the unknown in people, organisations, agencies and governments. Yet chipping away at the established ways of doing things is extremely effective, as it brings people, organisations, agencies and governments along at an agreed safe pace. Registering as a FETAC center and working in partnership with the Maynooth University Department of Adult and Community Education made this a reality.