Effective Preparation for Educators Teaching in Prisons
My poster demonstration deals with how educators teaching in prisons can be preparedfor situations they are likely to encounter during their everyday work in a penitentiary facility. Being a prison educator poses the difficult task to adapt to the environment and subculture of a given institution, to learn about the peculiarities of the inmates, and to adjust one’s work to these challenges.
In my poster demonstration I intend to find the answers to the following questions:
How can the work of educators teaching in prisons be made effective?
What are the methods that can help the inmates learn in a more efficient way?
What are those special skills and practices that prove effective in the preparation phase of prison educators, which will later be of assistance during the teaching procedures?
What type of continuous trainings and further education sessions are necessary for the prison educators to do their job effectively, to maintain their professional expertise all through their career, and to avoid burnout?
To elaborate on the topic, it is inevitable to introduce and explore the international and European framework.
UN resolution 1990/20 recommended that all member states introduce education in their correctional facilities. According to the Dakar Education Forum (2000) held by the UN, the organization of education in prisons is the duty of the state. European Prison Rules deem desirable the introduction and continuation of education and training programs in an ever widening scope. The education of inmates needs to be integrated in the public education and state vocational system, if possible, so that those concerned easily continue their education even after having been released from the correctional facilities; and it needs to be ensured under the aegis of external educational institutions.
Numerous studies have proved that those inmates that receive proper education during their time in prisons become repeat offenders. For this purpose it is very important to educate inmates with motivated teachers.
I based my research on the fact that at present the majority of educators teaching adults in prisons are faced with the peculiarities and methodical questions of adult education only in practice, they acquire the knowledge and skills needed to do the adult education profession through experience, in a self-taught way. It would be useful to record the qualification requirements, to develop a unified educational program toimprove the professional qualities of educators wishing to work in a correctional facility.
To achieve that the profession of teachers and educators become of high standard it is necessary for experts to take part in trainings where they can obtain the methods that will help them develop social skills and practices facilitating the efficiency of learning, with special emphasis on the areas of mental hygiene, personality development and organizing communities. Quality education requires the professional and mental preparedness of the staff. It would be effective and useful to organize forums for educators and education professionals, where teachers could define the ethics, practices, and methods of realizing the tasks prescribed by the laws and could also publish these findings and make them available for everyone.
Employees working in correctional facilities, thus educators teaching in prisons have to be managed, which means support, patronage, and helpful guidance. It would be effective if the level of self-esteem, empathic skills, and self-assurance of the teachers and the staff could be developed. This could be achieved through organizing personality development trainings. Moreover, psychologists could equip the staff and the teachers with coping techniques toprepare them for dealing with potential tensions, thus lowering the danger of burnout.
Despite the fact that the determining role teachers play at every stage of the teaching procedure is a given, this important momentum of prison education has not yet been properly described. While researching the professional literature related to this subject matter I started processing the European documents, result of forums, and UN resolutions. I went through several primary sources and original documents, and paid special emphasis to European Prison Rules. After I had studied all the basic documents intensively, I dealt with the sources, publications, and results of European Prison Education Association, and digested the topic from a European point of view as well. After researching the international and European documents I went on to compare the results of domestic and international statistics. Besides this I paid a great deal of attention to studying the sources of Hungarian prison education, thus not only did I read the most important books, studies, and articles in periodicals, but also participated in several conferences held on criminal andragogy, and of course have made use of the experience gained there.
The material to be presented at the poster demonstration can be used by the penitentiary systems of other European countries, as the difficulties prison education entails are similar in most European states. One of the most difficult activities of being a prison educator is to get acquainted with the environment of the prison, its peculiar subculture and to adapt to it; to learn about the behavior of the inmates; to organize the teaching procedures based on proper prison pedagogy didactics; and to comply with the prison rules and safety regulations. In order to explore these circumstances in more detail I plan to carry out empirical research in which I visit several correctional facilities in Hungary and ask the inmates, educators, and teachers about their experience, views, and opinions about education.
I strive to synthesize the knowledge obtained in the realm of criminal andragogy in a new approach to help the work of educators teaching in prisons. I have compiled what information should be conveyed to improve the efficiency of education carried out by educators teaching in prisons. These are the following:
1. Educating inmates needs customized guidelines of didactics, which must be taken into account when preparing these teachers. The greatest difficulty is to harmonize the methods of education with the special needs of the inmates, and with the peculiar environment of education and teaching. Also, the methods involving teacher dominance, shared teacher-learner dominance, or learner dominance should be considered.
2. Becoming an efficient prison educator necessitates an insight into the environment of the prison, its peculiar subculture and adaptation to it, which has to be clear for the would-be prison teachers (Jandt’s adaptation theory)
3. Getting to know the peculiarities of the inmates poses a unique problem.
4. Introducing the basic rules in connection with the operation of the prison is extremely significant, since this is the place where newly employed educators first encounter work in a correctional facility. Training would include penitentiary law, penitentiary psychology, and penitentiary pedagogy besides the dominance of security training.
5. Outlining professional and personal aptitude criteria
When choosing candidates to teach in a penitentiary facility, they are not obliged to take any exam or selection procedure, although such would be rather necessary. So, it would be useful if the selection system already working in correctional facilities could be taken over supplemented with special elements in case of teachers as well. European Prison Rules and European Council resolution R (97) 12 contain detailed rules in this respect.
6. Training for handling questions emerging during education, tensions, and conflicts would also be of essential importance
• Bolger, Maggie (2011): Interview: Senior Officer in Training Services. In: The Journal of Correctional Education 62. 2. July 10-12. pp.
• Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (2006): European Prison Rules. Recommendation Rec (2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the European Prison Rules
• Forgács, Judit (2012): Merre tart a nevelés? A nevelői profil vizsgálata [Where is education headed? Analysis of educator’s profiles]. In: Börtönügyi Szemle 1, pp 63- 72.
• Gehring, Thom (2000): Recidivism as a Measure of Correctional Education Program Success. . In: The Journal of Correctional Education 51.2. June. 197-205. pp.
• James S. Vacca, James S. (2004): Educated Prisoners Are Less Likely to Return to Prison. In: The Journal of Correctional Education 55.4. December. 297-306 .pp.
• Jandt, F. E. (2004): An Introduction to Intercultural Education. Identities in a Global Community. Sage Foundations, Thousand Oaks
• Kőszegi, Szilvia (2010): A fogvatartottak oktatása és képzése. [Education of inmates] In: Börtönügyi Szemle, 29. évfolyam, 3. szám, 55-62. p.
• Maurer, Péter (2011): Mi lehet a baj az oktatással a büntetés-végrehajtási intézetekben? [What’s the problem with education is prisons?] In: http://scipa.uni-pannon.hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=116 &Itemid=28)
• The Economic and Social Council: Resolution 1990/20. Prison Education
• Viggiani, Nick (2012): Creating a Healthy Prison: Developing a System Wide Approach to Public Health within an English Prison. In: The Journal of Correctional Education 63.2 July 12-19. pp.
• Wright, Randall (2004): Care as the „Heart” of Prison Teaching. . In: The Journal of Correctional Education 55.3. September. 191-209. pp.
• Wright, Randall (2005): Going to Teach in Prisons: Culture Shock. . In: The Journal of Correctional Education 56.1. March. 19-38. pp.