"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The classroom in the frontline ADULT EDUCATION IN DANGER

There's an odd mix of feelings at the start of a new college year. The summer-can't-be-over-there-must-be-some-mistake fog combines nicely with a fission of excitement: new classes, new students, new writing - it's show time!
Saying hello for the first time to students at Portslade Community College in East Sussex as I take over a well established and well regarded introductory courses on Monday evening and Thursday morning. Hello too to students on Towards Publication which runs on Friday mornings at The Friends Centre in Brighton and City Lit students in London studying Ways into Creative Writing and How to Write A Family Biography. Just completed my first all day workshop on memoir writing and every other Saturday I am running Tarner Drama as part of a writer-in-residence project.
Next week I am back at university.
There are some classes I've given up - my regular Monday morning at Brighton Unemployed Centre, for example. It  has been part of my life since February 2005 and was my first taste of teaching.  I also said goodbye to my Saturday morning class at City Lit in the summer. I miss it. I miss the students that came term in and term out and the new ones who weren't at all sure that giving up a Saturday lie-in was such a good idea (until they discovered it was a brilliant idea). I miss their humour and tolerance and outstanding ability. Some passages of writing produced in Room 507 will stay with me always.
And that reminds me just how important adult education is - and I say that not just as a tutor but also as a consumer - I am a lifelong student. If we stop learning, stop wanting to learn, doesn't something else stop inside...?
This term starts under the shadow of cuts that are predicted to be fierce and terrible. There is a very real risk that adult education colleges will be in the front line. That matters. For example, at present nearly half of City Lit's income comes from the Government. A major reduction would mean very large fee increases and could jeopardise the Centre's future.
I suppose it is difficult to argue for no cuts, but adult education can't be seen as an expendable add-on, nice to have but not really essential. It is so much more than that and every MP should be told so in no uncertain terms. By the way, you can find yours at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ Think of it as your first bit of (non fiction) creative writing for the new term. Homework.

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