10.04.2013 EAEAREPORTS

A songwriter turned an author on adult education

GENERATION NEXT. Swedish author and adult education organiser Thor Rutgersson is not afraid to seize opportunities.

Thor Rutgersson, 30, is a writer on adult education, whose themes range from study guides to theories and ideas about the future of non-formal adult education. At the moment he works as an Activity Developer in the Workers´ Educational Association (Arbetaras Bildningsförbund, ABF). His duties include planning and organising learning activities for the Association´s member organisations

"In my work I get inspired by figuring out new things. The latest project I worked on dealt with social media. These communication tools are something new for adult education organisations. The project focused more on why organisations should use these platforms, rather than on how they actually work.

The most annoying feature of my work is bureaucracy. State-funded non-formal adult education is a good thing but the administration it brings is a pain. All the time and energy that is devoted to filling out forms and papers could potentially be used for developing our activities and interacting with people.

The mission of non formal adult education - or rather one of the missions of non-formal adult education - is to create and maintain tools that can help people develop skills and grow, both as individuals and as groups or organisations. Non-formal adult education is a resource that can be used to decrease unemployment and to influence attitudes. Lifelong learning is fundamentally about discovering different values and new things throughout one´s life - the very things that define us and make us human.

I became an adult educator by accident. As a teenager I dreamt about a life of a songwriter or a drummer. I even went to a special high-school for drummers. In Sweden, non-formal adult education is very much a part of the music scene. The study associations help aspiring bands and musicians organise their music writing in study circles.

Since I have always been a big supporter of the ideology within the labour movement, it was natural for me and my band to seek the aid of the ABF. I attended my very first study circle in the Association at the age of 13. I then did some side jobs for the Association alongside my studies at the University of Gothenburg. Later on I worked in the Swedish Adult Education Association before returning to the ABF and my current position in Stockholm.

In ten years I will hopefully be doing something fun. Right now it is time for a new challenge in my life. In august I will join the EAEA office in Brussels. I will be staying with the Association for a year, dividing my time between helping out with EAEA´s tasks and carrying out assignments for the Swedish non-formal adult education organisations. I will also work with the EAEA Younger Staff Network - helping it grow and setting up activities.

In my life the most important thing is the constant learning that life provides. Capturing that and working with it together with others is what non-formal adult education is all about. Adult Education is a field where we believe in people, and in the things we can do together. And that´s why I love it!

I would like to educate everyone, including myself, about all the possibilities that still rest within the field of non-formal adult education. For instance, I see a lot of possibilities in creating learning environments online, where people from different countries can meet and work together."

Text: Aura Vuorenrinne

Thor Rutgersson took part to EAEA´s first Younger Staff Training in 2011.