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Wyndham J Webb

Do it, do it, do it! It most probably could be very good for you. It is something you can take in bite-size morsels or full-on banquets. You can learn how to arrange those flowers that turn up from your guilty adult child a few day after your birthday, or a full-blown degree. And you can often do it in the comfort of your own home.

Whether you want to catch up with the education you missed earlier in your life or want an evening class in a non-vocational subject just to get you out of the house, the boundaries and possibilities of adult education just grow and grow. It can be an enabling and therapeutic learning curve if you want it to be so. It can be the means of social contact for some, an enlightening process for others. It can help to expand the possibilities of furthering your career, it can just be for the fun of it. It is there for you if you want to go out and find it.

"I really don’t have the time." is, I’m sure, a common excuse for not motivating towards the possibility of furthering an education. It does not need to be a deeply academic subject. The range of subjects that can be learnt are so vast as to provide something for everybody. In fact a friend of mine recently told me that her Open University studies in Computing Sciences now make her too busy! An understandable comment from a single mum whose two children must take up the best part of her day. But she’s doing it and will reap a reward both in outcome and income! So it is possible for anyone to do it if they have the commitment. Time is a factor to be used constructively.

It needn’t be costly either. Many courses are heavily subsidised for those on low incomes. Many elementary courses are offered for free. Financial constraints are not unusual, colleges are usually more than willing to help. The services are there, the enthusiasm to learn must be with the person.
Age is not a barrier either. Education is not only just available to the young. Adult education has grown and grown for many years now. There are many tales told of elderly people gaining degrees. It may not have be beneficial for their careers, but the immense sense of satisfaction and achievement they felt must have been indescribable. I remember hearing about how a woman in her seventies attended an art A level course and was made very welcome by the rest of the students and her age did not seem to be an issue at all. You become a mature student when your physical age is over 21. I personally believe although I have been a mature student physically, my mental age is a different story! In fact, all my education, except compulsory schooling of course, has been taken in adult life. I am glad I’ve learned what I’ve learned. I’ve done what I wanted to when I wanted to and I will continue to learn, both through life experiences and education. I feel that quite many people feel that they have unfinished business when it comes to education and most look forward to the chances of continuing their learning and broadening their scope. It is now very common for a broad mixture of age ranges in adult education, and indeed in degree courses. The barriers where people once thought that they were too old to learn anymore have long been removed, the chances are there for the taking.

Adult education offers both the chance to work alone, Open University courses, Distance Learning programmes; or the sociable contact of courses run at colleges. That provide meeting places for people with like minds and interests; a source of companionship for the lonely, a stimulus for the inquisitive. It can be many things to many people. It can help them understand more, it can help them get out more. It can keep the brain in good trim, and the body, if a form of sport is the chosen course. You could learn to bake a cake or understand quantum physics. Where you take your learning to is your choice alone, there is no compulsion, just a willingness to learn is required. Everybody seems to know at least one person who is doing some form of adult education. Why don’t they join them?

The biggest and most popular field of adult education at present must be IT. From basic CLAIT skills to programming there is a plethora of courses available.. I’m sure there must still be some people out with Luddite tendencies towards computers but they are pretty well becoming an everyday fact-of-life for the majority of people. Free courses abound in the teaching of the basics of word processing. E-mailing and Internet access are very much every day occurrences for most people when it comes to communication. People have now accepted the mobile phone as an almost necessary form of easy communication and computers are becoming an increasingly popular learning tool in many peoples homes. Both young and old are becoming increasingly interested in gaining an understanding of the possibilities of instant communication and information that is available virtually at the touch of a button. They now want the courses that help them to understand the operation of machines they once thought were used by boffins in laboratory-like environments. Some need IT education because computers play a large part in many job situations nowadays. Where once it may have been motor mechanics it now is computerised engine management systems.

So, all you need to do is to get yourself down to your local adult education centre or local library and pick up those leaflets that contain the wonderful world of education. Make your choice, fill out the application form, pay your fees and look forward with anticipation to starting the course. Do it now, you know it’s good for you!

© Wyndham J Webb 2001

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