Engaging Men: Learning Centres in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
There is significant under representation of men in Scottish post-compulsory education and this pattern is replicated internationally. The Engaging Men project involves rural learning centres in some of the most remote communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Centres use their local knowledge to develop projects that suit the needs of men in their own communities. They are encouraged to be innovative and creative and programmes have included canoe building, golf, introductory IT classes, whisky tasting, and building craft practices. All link with progression routes into further study. Other centres have strengthened links with business organisations in their area, targeting specific industrial sectors and holding information sessions or open days. Many decided to take the learning to men in imaginative, proactive ways rather than wait for the men to come to their centres. A great deal has been achieved so far during this project and some inspiring case studies have emerged. This paper will include sections on the projects, how they were developed and the lessons learned about why men might not engage in learning and how they might be encouraged to do so. The key issues identified as to why men do not engage in learning have been developed into a model with the dimensions of psychosocial, lifestyle, curriculum design and delivery and informational barriers. The key lessons learned about how more men can be engaged in learning at a community level will be summarised in an action plan designed to promote the stimulation and sharing of ideas and professional practice. Finally, a set of recommendations at national, institutional, and community levels will be provided to promote and encourage future action to engage more men in learning in Scotland, and beyond, through local learning centres.
Keywords: Men, Scotland, Rural learning, Community learning
Dr. Iain Morrison
Head of Lifelong Learning, Executive Office, UHI Millennium Institute