Michael Newman (1939- ) has made a significant contribution to our appreciation of adult education and lifelong learning. Refreshingly, his writing has been infused by a strong social commitment, a concern to explore and develop practice, and belief in the power of theory. One of his great achievements has been a series of books that have explored the issues, opportunities and orientations of 'activist educators'.
Michael Newman is Australian and started his working life as a journalist in Sydney. In the early 1960s he left for the UK where he tried his hand at acting, writing and film-making but found himself teaching adult education classes to stay alive, then setting adult education classes up, and then working for seven years as a community education worker in inner London. Towards the end of the 1970s he was appointed Warden of the Working Men’s College, an institution set up in 1854 to provide a liberal education for working people. In the early 1980s Michael Newman was invited back to Australia to head up the Sydney Workers’ Educational Association. He left the WEA to work for four years as a trainer with the Australian Trade Union Training Authority, and in 1989 took up a post as Senior Lecturer in Adult Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney. He retired from UTS in 2001.
His books include Adult Education and Community Action (1975), The Poor Cousin: A Study of Adult Education (1979), The Third Contract: Theory and practice in trade union training (1993), Defining the Enemy: Adult Education in Social Action (1994) and Maeler's Regard: Images of adult learning (1999). His most recent book is Teaching Defiance: Stories and Strategies for Activist Educators.
The Third Contract: Theory and practice in trade union training (1993) is a landmark book. It is one of the few books which both explores the nooks and crannies of trade union education and training, and sets that within the sort of theoretical framework that trade union educators might feel comfortable with (or should feel comfortable with!). As with much of Michael Newman's work, the book uses anecdote, case studies and analysis to build a picture of the field. The result is one of the most engaging and important explorations of trade union education that has been published. It rightly won the 1993 Cyril Houle Award for Outstanding Literature in Adult Education from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education.
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How to cite this book: Newman, M. (2007) The Third Contract: Theory and practice in trade union training, www.michaelnewman.info. (Originally published 1993 by Stewart Victor Publishing).
This piece has been reproduced here on the understanding that it is not subject to any copyright restrictions, and that it is, and will remain, in the public domain. First placed in the archives: March 2007.