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EPALE - Elektroniczna platforma na rzecz uczenia się dorosłych w Europie


Witamy w Polsce (Welcome to Poland) - 2 Months and 14 days on and still learning!

przez Justin Coleman
Język: EN

Justin and Jamie on scooters in Warsaw


I sincerely appreciate all at EPALE & Ecorys UK for their support - they continue to enable vast learning, development, exchange and empowerment of a vital resource in all our communities. This blog follows on from Jamie Grundy’s blog, now 2 months 14 days post the EPALE Conference 2019 held in Warsaw, Poland.

As Jamie Grundy highlights in his blog, the conference was held in the beautiful city of Warsaw, Poland, on the 2nd and 3rd of October 2019. I am still positively reflective, and my thoughts and actions are situated in proactive progression.


The value of adult learning Warsaw Old Town hall

Whether it was discovering a beautiful city with the ever progressive Jamie Grundy; meeting with likeminded proactive agents of Adult learning from 38 Countries; discovering answers to my long-held questions in Criminal Justice via the meaning of ‘Bildung’ and the many lessons behind the Nordic Secret; or getting on an electric scooter in the rain - the two days have provided a legacy of continued learning and growth. 

People often ask, “Why be an EPALE UK Ambassador?”. My reply is often “Apart from being able to discover, learn from and share with the most forward thinking people from across the EU and all on one platform….. for me Adult Learning never stops and is intrinsic to my being an ‘adult'." I learn something new every day and value it. I always want to learn about best practice from the UK, EU & rest of the world – then use this knowledge and learning within partnerships, programmes and activity to enhance people who are in, around and journeying through the Criminal Justice System. 


Two days can change everything 

I have benefited from Continued Learning since the EPALE conference 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. It has been a true privilege to attend an event that has kept me focused on my goals and ensured I connected two decades of unanswered questions and challenges to productive networks for solutions and answers.

Firstly, Warsaw, in just two days, proved itself to be a great city! Warsaw is full of history, tradition, clean and green spaces, and emphasises green thinking. It goes without saying that the internet speed blew my mind! It puts Wales and the rest of the UK to shame! The electric scooters are a great way to get around and see everything that Warsaw has to offer its guests. Everything was above and beyond what I expected, and I sincerely recommend it! I will return and explore more with my family – dziekuje bardzo (Thank you very much)!

Secondly, the conference delivered the news that EPALE is working on an App version of the platform (yippee) for people like me who are on the move a great deal. Thirty-eight countries are represented through the 60,000+ registered users on the platform, who have contirbuted to the production of over 10,000 exceptional articles and digital productions. What’s not to love or be inspired by placing all of this in the palm of your hands?


Nordic learning presentation slide


A hub of collaborative thinking

I spoke with lots of likeminded and proactive people and we spoke of so many great initiatives and lots of potential collaborations moving forward. I could tell just how good this event was for networking by how many business cards and contacts I had when I left. Followed by how many I am still learning from and sharing with, more than two months on.

Following the event, I am still personally developing and continuing to learn, thinking over things I have taken away from the conference. Whilst it would take an MA or a Docterate to fully understand why this was so enlightening, the word Bildung and the book The Nordic Secret demonstrate how to transition from child to adult, dependant to interdependent, single person to family, and service to service with a little help from culture. The Nordic approach assists potentially conflicting services or support pathways to find a proactive and collaborative bridge, supporting the cause of continuing learning.


Polish flag in Warsaw

The conference and the Criminal Justice System

For the past 2 decades, my work has involved working directly and indirectly with the Criminal Justice System in the UK. I have had multiple questions about why we have silos within ‘a system’, and, as this 2015 UK MoJ Blog highlights, it isn’t a system at all. We use...

  • different language to describe the same thing within ‘a system’...
  • multiple assessments, repeated starts, stops and signposting, to be completed within ‘a system’...
  • many differing messages, objectives and outcomes being done on and not with, those living through ‘a system’, so why can’t victims, witnesses and those found guilty, and not guilty, of criminal behaviour be supported beyond court/licence end across each single journey, from ‘a system’ perspective?

Along with a great many other questions, during the conference, I sat in the audience, listened to Lene Rachel Andersen and the dots started to proactively connect and the realisation that there is a ‘system’ or proactive platform that can answer these long held questions – it’s not within the/a isolated Criminal Justice System - it’s a connected social and supportive platform through ‘a culture that exists’ within The Nordic Secret. It is the glue, bridge or united space that bonds silos, people and ultimately mobilises a prosocial journey.

Within the Criminal Justice system, we need a lifelong platform that cuts across services and transfers between people. However, I asked myself, "Would a culture of Bildung exclude anyone from the Criminal Justice System in the UK?” The more I am reading, listening and learning, the more the answer is becoming clear: The Nordic Secret is a testament to this mobilising culture and is something I highly recommend reading more about. From my perspective, I see great interventions being delivered, people changing and progressing. In short, we need a culture that enables us before, during and after ‘an intervention’ or service to learn from it and to always progress; a culture that enables a proactive journey and all its progress, to not simply be undone at the next transition, or psychosocial stage of life.

The next step is to galvanise our already proactive organisations together, learn together, share our understanding and further build the Bildung movement. May the learning continue…….


#Bildung #CriminalJusticeSystem #AdultLearning #EPALEConf2019 #Poland



Justin Coleman

Justin Coleman is an EPALE UK Ambassador and a Reference Group Member for Wales. He is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for the Alliance of Sport, an organisation that works with the Criminal Justic Sector to use sport to facilitate adult learning in prisons and to positively impact on offenders and ultimately reduce the rate of reoffending. He is a keen contributor to content on the platform and updates the team at EPALE of developments in the sector. 



You might also be interested in:

  • Witamy w Polsce (Welcome to Poland) (blog) - Jamie Grundy recaps on his experiences at the EPALE Stakeholder Conference 2019 in Warsaw, where he learned about the impact EPALE has on adult learning and enjoyed being immersed in Polish culture
  • Friday the 13th (blog) - Dafydd Rhys calls for greater lifelong learning opportunities and considers the current situation with adult learning and workforce development in Wales 
  • E+ case study - The Homeless World Cup (blog) - case study that covers an Erasmus+ project that helps homeless people to use football to change their lives in positive ways 
  • Public libraries and their roles and work in inclusion and learning (blog) - a summary of an Erasmus+ study visit to Bergen, Norway, in May 2019, focusing on public libraries as inclusive learning arenas
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