Reflection On E. Michelson’s The Politics of Memory   Leave a comment

The author argued that the recognition of prior learning is a radical educational practice in many ways. According to Michelson, “RPL is seen as one of the new education and training policies to address the legacies of underdevelopment and inequitable development” (p 147) as it incorporates knowledge, experience, political, economic, and managerial factors. RPL is associated with knowledge and power, theory and practice, skills and knowledge, education and the training of the adult learner as Michelson noted, “…justice lies in the recognition of individual achievement” (p. 145).

Michelson argued that RPL is conservative through showcasing examples such as, in the workforce in Britain where mine-workers have to follow rigid lines of authority like spying on fellow co-workers (Michelson, 1997, para. p. 151). There are political effects that could be positive or negative relating to specific groups, “…to skilled employment and decision-making authority” (p. 151). Assessments and their language policy would need to be reviewed and transformed because they are not specific enough to RPL as well as being biased and sexist. Another aspect is the limited financial resources of adult learners as Nancy Mills stated, “…that RPL will work well for those who can afford it…” (Michelson, 1997, p.148)

I agree that the system is too conservative. In viewing South Africa there are considerations that must be taken as Michelson commented, “South Africa contains two disparate legacies of ‘prior learning’, the first of which both justified and sustained apartheid and the second of which provided the insurgent skills and knowledge that led to its overthrow? (p. 149). Racial positions, access or the lack of access because of inequality leads to conservatism which neglects the foundation for relations of class, gender, race, and ethnicity.


Michelson, E. (1997). The Politics of Memory. Globalization, Adult Education, and Training: Impacts & Issues. Supplemental Reading.




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