Prison education, transformation, rehabilitation, Ireland
This article examines motivations behind participation in education based on interviews with Irish prisoners. It begins by considering the relationship between education and rehabilitation, especially the latter’s re-emergence in a more authoritarian form. Drawing on results from the research, this article argues that the educational approach, culture and atmosphere are particularly important in creating a learning environment in prison. It makes the case that educational spaces which allow students to voluntarily engage in different types of learning, at their own pace, at a time of their choosing, can be effective in encouraging prisoners to engage in critical reflection and subsequently, to move away from criminal activity. It locates education in prison within a wider context and concludes that while prison education can work with, it needs to distinguish itself from, state-sponsored rehabilitation programmes and stand on the integrity of its profession, based on principles of pedagogy rather than be lured into the evaluative and correctional milieu of modern penality.
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