REBEL (Recognising Experience-Based Education and Learning)

+Marsha Bradfield +Paul Haywood +Erasmus+ +CLAN +many others

(text extracted from NAFAE presentation w/Marsha Bradfield)


There has never been a better time to learn. Once the perceived province of the educated elite, today knowledge acquisition is well recognised as lifewide (i.e. taking place beyond traditional classrooms). DIY videos on YouTube proliferate; socially engaged projects are all the rage; survival is transacted through street smarts and other ways of developing a ‘feel for the game’ (Bourdieu).

Heterogeneous knowledge has terrific appeal but institutions of learning are not generally well placed to valorise it. REBEL takes up this challenge as a short-term research project commissioned by the University of the Arts London (2017 - 2018). As the name suggests, Recognising Experience-Based Education and Learning (REBEL) attempts to articulate informal learning and test structures to better support it. This takes place through the development of open source reflexive tools designed to benefit learners in various contexts with the aim of developing a common framework accesible to all learners both in and out of formal education.

REBEL is a part of a long term initiative steered by Paul Haywood and connected to CLAN (Collaborative Learning Action Networks), Union Learn and many other adult learning facilitators based in the EU and beyond. Since January 2018, it has unfolded in various directions simultaneously. This has included case studies (Stephanie Bolt), interviews (Marsha Bradfield) and the facilitation of a number of focus groups (Marsha Bradfield + Kerri Jefferis) testing modes and affects of the engagement with a new paper-based, prototype. A deck of discursive cards.


The REBEL cards feature 108 capabilities. These are a mixture of behaviours, skills, interests and more. In some ways - a pallet for cultural production. There is one capability one per card, with the application described on the reverse. The capabilities are grouped in three distinct categories (life wide attitudes and behaviours, interests and experience) which are each colour-coded blue, green and orange. These categories are further divided, with darker cards indicating a more advanced application of the capability.


The REBEL cards are primarily a reflective tool for empowerment, building on an asset-based learning model. As we know, most education turns on a deficit: A course aims to address a learner’s lack. By contrast, REBEL aims to identify their existing assets - so what skills, knowledges, behaviours, experiences they already as a result of their lifewide learning or in reference to a specific experience (project, course or other).

Using these cards to recognise experience-based learning has raised important considerations regarding how and what learning or knowledge is valued, by who and how it is understood or articulated by the stakeholders involved. 

Core here is the potential for agency and confidence to be felt by all learners (in and out of art and design education), their peers, mentors, employers, tutors, communities, courses and institutions to more effectively support each other by recognising and creatively valuing lifewide knowledge.

Formative outcomes and a revised prototype of the cards are now being circulated and tested with a wider network of groups.

Get in touch / / watch this space.

Proto website via CLAN and Erasmus+ here