Michael Newman has worked for 40 years as an inventive adult educator, mainly in the United Kingdom and Australia. He was one of the first Outreach Workers appointed to the London adult education service in 1971. His job was to reach working class people and to do this he established innovative educational responses to local communities, which quickly attracted attention from the field. In 1979 he became Warden of the Working Men’s College, one of London’s five literary institutes. There he overhauled the program and established departments in Social and Political Studies, and Irish Studies.
In 1981 he was invited to give a keynote address in South Africa at a conference committed to challenging apartheid in education. In 1982 Newman was invited home to Australia to overhaul the Sydney Workers’ Educational Association. In 1985 he took up a post as a national trainer with the Australian Trade Union Training Authority, where he introduced new training methods and worked on TUTA’S international program.
In 1989 Newman was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney. There he established a reputation for his teaching and writing. Over his 12 years at UTS, he was a visiting scholar for brief periods in Thailand, Holland, South Africa, Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand.
Newman achieved an international reputation as both a practitioner and scholar and as such has been invited regularly to speak on adult education. In 1980 he approached the British Broadcasting Authority with a proposal for a television documentary on adult education, which was screened on BBC2 in 1981. Newman wrote the script and appeared in the documentary as the commentator. In his writing, Newman has always accompanied his analysis with anecdote and description. In this way he has sought to make the discussion of the theory and practice of adult education accessible to the casual as well as the specialist reader. In all his teaching – whether in the United Kingdom and Australia or in the countries where he has been a visiting scholar – Newman has always promoted the individual, social and political value of adult education.
Newman has always been a member of the requisite union in any work he has done.
He has been a member of the Australian Journalists’ Association, British Actors’ Equity, The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (UK), the Independent Teachers Association (Australia), ACOA (Australia), the Lecturers’ Association of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, and the National Tertiary Education Union (Australia). In his post with TUTA he worked for and actively promoted the trade union movement. One of his award-winning books was about trade union training. Just before he retired from full-time work at UTS in 2001, the National Tertiary Education Union recognized his services to the union movement and made him an Honorary Life Member. He continues to be invited to give seminars, addresses at conferences and train-the-trainer sessions to union members engaged in trade union education and training.
Newman has also made major contributions to the field as a scholar. Throughout his career, he has shared his experiences through his writing. His earlier writing—two books in the 1970s and one in the 1980s—focused on practice. The three books written in the 1990s and the one published in 2006 are scholarly works in which Newman has subjected his and others’ practice to detailed theoretical analysis. In 2006 Newman was invited to give the opening address at the annual conference of the American Commission of Professors of Adult Education. He continues to write, and is regularly invited to speak to both academic and practitioner audiences.
Newman’s contribution as both practitioner and scholar was recognized when the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education in the UK made him an Honorary Life Member in 2007.
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