Adult education: a fundamental good

I’m so in agreement with this blog post that I had to re-blog it. I’ve done all sorts of stuff at evening classes or Saturday morning classes in the past, including: Saturday morning music & orchestra practice, photography, silk painting, shorthand, Italian, French, Russian, German… Loved dabbling with all of them and none of them led to qualifications. I look around now and feel a loss when it comes to seeing what is, or more to the point, what isn’t on locally in terms of this kind of thing. It makes me want to go all maverick and set up my own adult learning centre. A few years ago I taught Spanish and German from beginner to intermediate levels privately. I just advertised in the local Retford Life mag and before I knew it was building up quite a few appointments every week. At the FE college I work at I put together a proposal to teach poetry for beginners as an evening class last year. The comeback, basically: “there’s no money in poetry, and no poetry in money”. But how do they know? I think you have to advertise something and give it a try before writing it off.
People just like dabbling and exploring new creative pursuits sometimes. I had a friend in London a few years back, a housemate at the time, whose personal policy was to enrol on at least three new random evening classes every new semester just for the laugh and to try something new. I like that. But we need more opportunities to do it.


Brian Creese

Evening classes were once such an unshakeable part of the British landscape. They were the setting for TV and radio sitcoms, editions of the London guide Spotlight used to fly off the shelves on release and the standard advice of 70s ‘Agony Aunts’ – make friends, join an evening class – was the butt of comedians. My own experiences have included learning to touch type, creative writing, car maintenance and pottery. Most of my contemporaries have done evening classes in something, including the near ubiquitous foreign language courses.

But times have changed. In the past few years the headlines have been about falling numbers participating in adult education, a collapse in adult education funding and a collapse of morale.

Back when I was taking part in after work education we were not looking for pieces of paper – although I did get a Pitman’s typing qualification. We were doing…

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