Interview With An Educator: Colin Kirkwood

This is a conversation and interview with Colin Kirkwood who was one of the instrumental people who were involved in setting up the Adult Learning Project in Edinburgh over 30 years ago.  Inspired by the work of Paulo Freire, it took an innovative stance of valuing local knowledge and building educational processes around the ideas and issues which the community felt were pertinent to their lives.  This is an opportunity to hear Colin talk about how he, and others, proposed the project and brought it into a reality which has served the Edinburgh community for decades.


Colin Kirkwood
Colin Kirkwood

Colin Kirkwood is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with lifelong involvement in adult education and community action. He describes himself as a Scottish generalist with interests in literature, moral philosophy, history, politics, religion and direct democracy. He takes a personalist view of his approach, which he describes as dialogical relational psychotherapy.


Colin worked as a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Studies at the University of Edinburgh for ten years, and focused on dialogue between psychodynamic perspectives and the person-centred approach. He was later Senior Psychotherapist at the Huntercombe Edinburgh Hospital, working with women and girls with severe eating disorders.


He has written extensively on community and adult education, and much of his thinking is available in the books he has published including:

  • Adult education and the unemployed: practical approaches to investigation curriculum development, method and organisation by Colin Kirkwood and Sally Griffiths
  • Scotland as a learning society: identity, difference and relatedness
  • The Development of Counselling in Shetland: A Study of Counselling in Society
  • Vulgar Eloquence: And Other Essays in Education, Community and Politics (Determinations)
  • Living Adult Education (Innovations in Education) by Gerri Kirkwood and Colin Kirkwood
  • Living Adult Education: Freire in Scotland by Gerri Kirkwood and Colin Kirkwood
  • The Persons in Relation Perspective: In Counselling, Psychotherapy and Community Adult Learning by Colin Kirkwood



You can read more about Colin’s views on Paulo Freire and how Adult Learning Project came to be a feature in Edinburgh’s educational landscape in the following article:

The History of Adult Learning Project in Edinburgh: A Freirean Approach