Common Wealth Through Community Men’s Sheds: Lives and Learning Networks Beyond Work

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Corporate Author
Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // This paper explores the recent phenomenon and benefits of community men’s sheds in Australia, focusing on the important role sheds and workshop-based practice plays in creating informal learning and friendship networks for men. It is based on recent studies of organizations and contexts in Australia that informally and effectively engage men. Problems are identified with front-end models of vocational training that disregard or undervalue the lifetime of skills and experiences built up by men in previous paid work roles and in adult and community education sectors that tend not to cater for men or diverse masculinities. Insights are provided into ways in which men’s skills and experiences can be shared, transferred, valued and celebrated in men’s livelihoods beyond paid work, through regular, shared, handson activity in gendered communities of practice. It particularly explores the untapped potential of open and flexible shed-based practice for men’s vocational retraining, lifelong learning and inter-generational skills transfer. The ‘open’ and inclusive nature of the community shed and what occurs in it and its pedagogical familiarity with men are identified as its key strengths. The paper identifies what it is about the nature of community-based men’s sheds that has proven to be increasingly popular, productive and therapeutic in Australia in the past decade. One of my purposes at presenting at this conference is to seek out, identify and learn about different and similar insights from conference participants from other countries that might contribute to an ongoing international study of men’s informal learning beyond the workplace. My paper particularly seeks to identify shed and workshop-type settings and organizations in other national and cultural contexts that might play a similar role in the livelihoods of men, families and communities. // Paper ID 380