Unseen landscapes of adult education: creative arts, well-being and well-becoming in later life

PhD Thesis

Evershed, J. 2018. Unseen landscapes of adult education: creative arts, well-being and well-becoming in later life. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsEvershed, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameEdD

Creative arts education is integral to the diverse, extramural, formally taught and non-accredited landscapes of Adult Education. Traditionally popular with adults in later life, it is correlated with improvements in subjective well-being (Hughes and Adriaanse, 2017), health (Humphrey et al., 2011) and social inclusion (Feinstein et al., 2008). However, UK government support for arts curricula is in decline (Hughes et al., 2016), despite the rising demographics for older age groups (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2018). Funding for remaining programmes is increasingly rationalised through perceived improvements to well-being (Hughes et al., 2016) and the attainment of objective and functional learning outcomes (Schuller, 2017).

This thesis explores the relationships of three women in later life with creative arts education. The interpretive bricolage methodology draws together their experiences and considers the impacts of rationalising education exclusively through objective criteria. The research material is analysed using writing-as-inquiry and emergent interpretations are refined in iterative dialogues between researcher and participants. Thus, meaning is made in a ‘continuing realignment of life events and life possibilities’ (Rolling, 2010, p.157). The analysis is (re)presented as a series of evocative narratives, interwoven with the reflexive and autoethnographic positioning of the researcher. This process seeks to ‘fracture the boundaries that normally separate social science from literature’ (Ellis and Bochner, 2000, p.744).

The research highlights the participants’ perceptions of motivational factors, barriers and constraints and explores aspects of personal meaning-making, spirituality and transformation. It also illustrates the importance of ‘place’ in fostering collaborative learning and curiosity and questions fixed notions of well-being. The latter is reconceptualised as ‘well-becoming’ to acknowledge its fluid and transient qualities. The women’s experiences are set against a prevailing culture of accountability and lie beyond the immediate gaze of policymakers. Therefore, the research assists in promoting more sustainable and context-appropriate practice by exploring some of the otherwise ‘unseen’ landscapes of Adult Education in later life.

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Publication process dates
Deposited26 Feb 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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