Barry Golding’s collaborative national and international research, 2000-2016

Men’s learning and wellbeing: Beyond the workplace’

Research from 2000 into men’s learning through informal community contexts resulted in the international book, Men learning through life. The book  was one of the outcomes of Australian research into men’s learning and community men’s sheds between 2005 and 2014.  This research was considered timely and of ongoing interest to other nations experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Concerns about men’s literacies as well as attitudes to and involvement in formal, lifelong, community and adult learning
  • The inadequacy of current research and policy in this field
  • Concerns about wellbeing and health for the growing proportion of men not involved in the paid workforce (unemployed, working voluntarily, retired or with a disability).
  • Pessimism about the value of formal training for re-integrating older and displaced men into the workforce, with downturns in the global economy.
  • Ageing of the population and the need for more men to keep actively engaged in lifewide learning for diverse purposes, including giving back to the community.

Informal learning contexts and community organisations I have been particularly interested in (illustrative examples from Hamilton, New Zealand, below)

  • Adult and community education
  • Volunteer fire and emergency services
  • Sporting
  • Religious or culturally diverse / Indigenous
  • Disability, age-related and institutional
  • Men’s social and special interest organizations (such as men’s sheds, fishing and hunting clubs).

Research questions that guided our international research

  • What shapes men’s attitudes towards the learning beyond the workplace?
  • How do men’s learning capacities, literacies and aptitude to learn change with age?
  • How are these attitudes affected by location, class, culture and men’s diverse masculinities?
  • Which informal, group learning environments, contexts and community organizations engage men not involved in paid work, for what reasons and with what outcomes?
  • What is the relationship between informal group affiliation and learning in community contexts, and the wellbeing of men, their families and communities?
  • What learning roles do different types of community organization play and what are the preferred pedagogies (ways of learning)?
  • What can be done to positively re-engage other men in learning through community engagement?

Research during 2010-13

While this research originated in Australia, it has become increasingly international. During 2010 visits and meetings took place with researchers from several European Union nations (Greece, Portugal and three Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland and Sweden and Ireland) as well as in Australia, UK and New Zealand to explore and create new research teams and sites to inform the research. In 2011 other researchers and sites were added in the Pacific region as well as in Europe. Research sites visited during 2011 included Samoa & New Zealand (July 2011) as well as Finland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Portugal and Greece (Sept & Oct 2011). In 2012 research reconnaissance was undertaken in China and new research partnerships were forged with Anshan Normal University (Anshan) via Dr Aijing Jin from the then University of Ballarat.

Men learning through life (2014, published by NIACE in the UK)

Barry Golding’s major project in 2013 involved assembling a book with Dr Rob Mark (then of University of Strathclyde, Scotland) and Dr Annette Foley (in 2015 at Federation University Australia) published in the UK early in 2014 by NIACE, called Men learning through life. It included contributed chapters from Greece, Portugal, Ireland, China, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The Men’s Shed Movement Movement: the Company of Men book, published in 2015 by Common Ground Publishing in Champaign, Illinois. The book is available for order in 2018 paperback for US $25  (postage is extra) or US$15 as a pdf (with colour photos) via the following link: The book is also available for order on line via Amazon, as well as in Australia through the Angus and Robertson on line store.


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Tertiary Tracks: Researching post-compulsory learning

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