You remember Mark Hopkins, who told his story so well, not only in our publication, but also on the SBS Insight tv program last year?

Well, some of the stories from this Resilience collection have been translated into other languages for the EPALE* site, and the first story to be translated was Mark's.


*EPALE: Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe.

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Learner Stories: Adult literacy & returning to school - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe

Here it is, teachers and learners, for your reading experience: Launching today, the Australian version of the e-book. You can also pre-order your copies of the paperback (limited edition).

The Annual General Meeting and Book Launch is online today Wednesday 19 October at 3:00pm AEST. Find out more about the AGM via the ACAL front page, at


* AGM: Annual General Meeting.
** ACAL: The Australian Council for Adult Literacy.
*** The e-book and pdf are completely free to download and print. All stories are licensed under Creative Commons.

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The impetus for 'Resilience - Stories of Adult Learning' came from a need to gather and publish the authentic voices of learners across many different adult learning environments. There was also a need for collaboration between adult literacy practitioners in Australia and the UK, to build networks....

Some people used this book from VALBEC* as a model in their writing class, while creating their own stories for this project: "A Fuller Sense of Self", which explores the lives of people in adult education, how their lives have been enriched through learning.

Now you have a series of videos reconnecting with a few of the same adult learners, "5 Years On". Via this link you can download the original book, and also watch the video conversations in 3 chapters.

We reckon it's ...a great example of resilience in action.
** All feedback welcome. **

- michael chalk -

* VALBEC is the Victorian Adult Literacy and Basic Education Council (Aust.)

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Six people described why they returned to education and how that decision shaped and changed their lives for the better. Their stories were published in 2011 as 'A Fuller Sense of Self - a collection of stories told by adult literacy students'. The stories illuminated their lives and learning experi...

Make sure you're watching Insight on SBS tonight - "Reading Between the Lines". Mark Hopkins from PRACE in Victoria wrote a story for our collection, and now he's on the telly.
Tuesday 23 August, SBS TV.

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Earlier this year I worked with Julie Johnson as she talked with Joe Xerri at the Lalor Living and Learning Centre. Joe's story forms part of this set of stories from people involved in adult learning across the Shire of Whittlesea in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne.

"Before I came here I didn't know how to write my address," says Joe. Often policy-makers don't appreciate the real hardship and struggle that can come with low-level literacy.

via the North East Neighbourhoo...d House Network :

- Michael Chalk -

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Interviews of Neighbourhood House volunteers and students in the City of Whittlesea.

Over in the UK behind the scenes, Tara Furlong has been working very hard to compile and edit stories that have come in from all around Australia and the UK. While you're waiting for the big ebook and website publication, here's a small selection of stories to read:

The stories in this collection are not always easy to read. People have faced many challenges in their return to learning. It's a testament to the courage of the writers and also the dedication of the teachers involved that these writers felt safe enough to share their stories with the world.

This collection is a small subset of all the stories that were gathered across Australia and the UK. Stay in touch with ACAL e-news and this Facebook page for the full collection later in 2016.

Trigger warning: some of these stories contain reference to abuse and violence. Some of these stories are written under a pseudonym because of the subject matter and people's need for privacy.

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This article examines some of the research around the psychology of resilience (Emmy Werner, Martin Seligman, George Bonanno).

"Resilience.. is like a constant calculation: Which side of the equation weighs more, the resilience or the stressors? The stressors can become so intense that resilience is overwhelmed. Most people, in short, have a breaking point. On the flip side, some people who weren’t resilient when they were little somehow learned the skills of resilience. They were able to overcome adversity later in life and went on to flourish as much as those who’d been resilient the whole way through." (via Werner)

..looking at the question of how do people learn to develop resilience - and can it be taught?

Resilience is a set of skills—and psychologists know how you can learn them.

Here's an inspiring story about someone who was dyslexic and bullied at school, who found ways to emerge stronger than ever through exploring their creativity and also through embracing adult learning.

What's your response to this story.. have you met adult learners with a similar story?…/artist-joshua-yeldham-climb…/7409604

Dyslexic and bullied as a child, Joshua Yeldham has reinvented himself as a successful writer and artist.

Some stories have come in via text message...

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Many thanks to all the teachers and learners who have been involved so far. As we approach the 30 April deadline, stories have been coming in from around the country..

Yes, tomorrow is the official deadline, but don't worry you can still send early next week if you're having any technical difficulties. You can post via the link down the left here (, or send to my email listed in the student handout (box at michalk dot id dot au).

While you're ...waiting to find out more about the stories, here's an inspiring piece from Tim Presser of Swinburne in Victoria, who overcame many challenges to complete his Certificate of General Education for Adults.

What's your take on this story? Can you imagine being in a similar situation?


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Adult literacy teachers, find out more about the friendly group known as "Research and Practice in Adult Literacy" (RaPAL, UK). You might not be a member, but you can read their 30th Anniversary Journal "Commemorating 30 Years of RaPAL" (Volume 87, Winter 2015) and other recent editions here:

(You'll need this top secret password: RaPAL30 ..and they'll be making it private again within a few weeks, so bundle up your reading while you can.)

"This edition ..commemorates RaPAL's 30 years, and the revolutionary social practices approaches to adult literacies education brewing in the eighties. The topics range from provision for the Roma community in Spain, excluded young people on London's troubled estates and community empowerment approaches through the global award-winning Reflect method, to theoretical analyses of motivation and frameworks of context in learning." Tara Furlong and Julie Furnivall, edition 87 editors.

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Teachers in adult ed: if you have one or more students who might be interested in telling their stories for this Resilience project, please let them know that 500 words is the *upper limit*, not the minimum (woah, pressure!!).

Also, if you haven't time to be doing this in class, I could connect with your student via skype or something like that, record-transcribe-edit.. it's an option you might consider. Thanks, michael

Revised student handout here:

Teachers in NSW: A Writing Seminar at Auburn Library. Thurs 10 March!

Teachers and tutors of adult language/ literacy students are invited to a seminar to share ideas about student writing.
- Encouraging your students to get started with writing.
- Supporting the writing process....
- Helping with the editing stage.

When: Thurs 10 March at 5pm (2016).
Where: Auburn Council Library, 1 Susan St, Auburn, NSW 2144.
Refreshments will be served after the seminar.

In order to help with catering, please rsvp

All welcome!
- Free for Volunteer Tutors and members of NSWALNC.
- Others: $20 - but you can join the NSWALNC on the day and access the seminar for free.

Presented by Auburn City Library Service and NSW Adult literacy & Numeracy Council (NSWALNC).

..and please let us know how this session inspires you and your students to contribute stories to our student writing project right here

Full details in a PDF file - "AuburnSeminar" - in our public files folder:

Photos: thanks to:
Alan Cleaver, writing, cc-by
Fredrik Rubensson, diary writing, cc-by-sa

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Thanks to Learn Local in Victoria for this great reminder, that adult learning is often about "positive transformations in life". Like us, they'd love to hear your stories of growing self-confidence and well-being.

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Learn Local

Has learning as an adult led to improved satisfaction in life, self confidence and wellbeing?

Files here:

Often the most challenging thing for a teacher is finding new ways to encourage your learners to have a go. It can take a lot of emotional energy, even when it's something that would be in their interests, and that could be motivating for them when they get past their own fears. A big project like this can take some explaining.

So, we've made a document especially for learners in your classroom, posing questions to spark group discussion and... ideas during the writing process, and to explain the project in more detail. Hopefully this will help you support your learners.

Please let us know if there's any way we can improve the document - eg more learning activities, simpler language. Also, feel free to share any of your own strategies with your colleagues here.

As for the other documents - curriculum-mapping and release form - we've made PDF copies and dropped them in the public folder over at google drive:

- Michael

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So maybe your students want to write and publish their stories, but you're wondering how to balance all the challenging aspects: not only to begin a process of writing with people who may be nervous about sharing their stories, but also to balance their human needs with everyday compliance demands.

-- Files in this folder --

We've got you covered. Keiko and Pam from ACAL have put together the most wonderful collection of curriculum-mapping connecti...ons. They've thought this through thoroughly, and found links between the kinds of writing tasks you might want to draw your learners toward, and the curriculum documents you may be using to convey the very real learning that is occurring in your adult classroom or learning space.

There are the FSK, the CGEA and the CSWE. All of these documents can be made to show just how much learning is actually going on during this project.

Take a look, we've made PDF copies and dropped them in the public folder over at google drive:

All feedback welcome - please let us know if we can improve these documents in any way. Thank you kindly.

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Good news everyone. This project is extending out all the way into term 2. We have a brand new publishing deadline of 30 April.

That's right, your learners can still share their stories with their colleagues out in the world. So if the admin whirlpool was overwhelming for you at the end of last year, here's another opportunity to get involved.

What do you say? Go on, join us!


If you're interested to learn more, get in touch with Michael Chalk the project worker (pm via here or email). Tell me your ideas, ask for the support you need. (For example I could skype into your classroom and talk with your group about the whole thing.)

(We also have a great new resource, mapping this activity to a few different curriculum documents, for your administrative pleasure.. stay tuned.)


Photo: Redwood Coast, 9. Girdled Tree, CC-BY,

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