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Knights, B. (1991). Writing relations in a men's prison. Free Associations, 2(1):65-85.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(1):65-85

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Writing relations in a men's prison

Ben Knights

This article began as an attempt to write up a class which I taught for four and a half years in a men's high-security prison. At various times the subject of the class was creative writing, drama, and literature. For a long time it went under the umbrella title ‘Thinking about Writing’. Much more is involved than simply writing up what happened. Over the years I have come to see this class, with its changing membership, as a kind of crucible for thought about adult education — thought which goes beyond reflections about prison education as such. So the object of this article is to tease out some of the connections between the patterns relationships take in such a group and the patterns of studying language and symbolism. From an adult education point of view I want to ask how it is possible to work with such patterns. This, therefore, is a study not only of a prison education class, but simultaneously of a men's group and an adult education experiment. I hope it may interest some of those who teach in prisons, and believe that if it has valuable things to say they should also be relevant in contexts other than the one in which this particular work was done. I offer it in this spirit: not as a piece of documented, systematically tested research, but as promptings whose validity may be borne out in future work.

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