Want to learn something new? York’s a class act

5 Sep 2012 @ 8.33 pm
| News
There's a huge array of courses and workshops in York, and some are free

Bread making, ballroom dancing, bicycle maintenance, badminton… and that’s just the B’s! There’s a course for everyone, and now the kids are back in the classroom, why not pick up a new skill too, writes Jayne Dwyer

My son didn’t want to go back to school this week. He is finding it hard to see the point of some of his lessons.

In his words, he is never going to be an artist so why do art? He doesn’t want to be vicar, so why do RE? When I suggest it might be fun or interesting, that learning isn’t all about getting to college or getting a job, his come-back is “I’d rather just come home early”.

When I was at school, I remember being told why I had to learn English and maths, why I had to learn domestic science (which included endless scrubbing of wooden draining boards and lots of cooking of fish pie because it was “good for invalids”).

I went to class because that is what I was told to do, just as my son will this week (bless his new-term little cotton socks) and I’m sure by Friday his head will be brimming with new knowledge and that there will be several squished bananas in his new school bag.

Some things are written in stone – or should I say interactive whiteboards?

This is where adult learning is different. On the whole, as adults, we choose to learn and we will only get ourselves to the classroom again if we can see the purpose of why we are going.

Whether it is because we want to improve our job skills, meet new friends, get out of the house or have aspirations of being the next David Hockney, we have choices!

And this year, the choices are refreshing and inspiring, whether you want to unlock the mysteries of the stars (of the astronomical kind, not the Katie Price kind) or grind cocoa beans to make chocolate on a late winter afternoon

There is something for everyone.

Maybe it is something that happens to us as we get older: we begin to see the value of learning. I love learning and aim to learn something new every year. And though I value learning, I take advantage as many free learning opportunities as I can and have only ever done courses that I believe are ‘value for money’.

My time is precious too and yet, whether I have attended a free afternoon workshop or invested a year of cold wet Wednesdays to invest in my latest hobby, I have never been disappointed.

Last year I surprised myself at the array of new skills I acquired and all of them (apart from my own personal nemesis – spreadsheets) was fun. I have made digital stories, a jubilee bag, written a poem I am truly proud of and feel a lot more confident about converting fractions to percentages!

Some of this year’s adult learning courses will help me in my own career, but better than that, I can see courses and workshops that I really want to do, just for the fun of it.

Here is just some of what is on offer this autumn. I have focused on courses that are free or affordable if you, like me, are on a budget.

York Museums Trust won’t necessarily get you back into the classroom. But they will get you into the galleries and the museums instead: to write poetry and paint in oils, to get hands-on with history and geology.

The quirky titles make me want to find out more. At the moment I am toying with Memory Cushions and a talk on Bombs, Bacteriophage and Bartonella.

Several of their talks and one-day workshops are free, and others are very offered at a reasonable cost to cover materials etc. Click here for full course details.

Family Learning, Skills for Life offer a wide variety of courses to suit all levels. The ‘Get Started’ and ‘Get On’ courses are for adult learners who need support in learning to read and write, or need basic maths skills. If you, a friend or family member would like to enrol onto one of these courses, ring 01904 554277 for more details.

If you just need to update English or maths skills, gain a qualification or improve employability, ‘Move On’ courses are ideal. Courses are taught in a friendly classroom environment, or delivered in libraries to offer a flexible learning approach; so that you can work on the areas you need to work on, at a pace to suit you.

If you want to sort out your millimetres from your kilometres or your commas from your apostrophes, these are the courses for you.

It was on a Skills for Life course that I finally managed to sort out my Pythagoras’ Theorem (that’s not easy to say with a mouthful of peas) 26 years after leaving school, two years ago (little maths puzzle there).

Wanting to improve your English or maths so that you can help your own children or grandchildren? Family Learning also offer courses such as ‘Number Bags’ ,‘Story Sacks’ and ‘How Children Learn to Read’. In some venues there are free crèches.

All Skills for Life Programmes are free! For more information email: [email protected] or phone 01904 554277

The Yortime brochure offers everything from flower arranging, bicycle maintenance and festive vegetarian cookery. The list is endless. Log on to the Yortime website and use the search engine to find a course to suit you, or call into the enrolment office at York Explore for more information or help with bookings.

I am already signed on to a painting and drawing class at Huntington School because I’m not too old to give up my ambitions of being the next Tracey Emin. This course came highly recommended and rumour has it the City of York Council art classes fill up quickly, with learners returning year after year.

As well as checking the Yortime link above, you can find out more about City of York Council, Adult Learning at York Explore this Saturday, September 8, 10am to noon, at their open day.

Examples of adult learning courses in York

Click on the headings to go to the appropriate page

History of Yorkshire in 20 Objects
A special handling session looking at 20 fascinating objects which tell the history of the county of Yorkshire, selected from our archaeological and natural history collections.
23 January, 2pm – 4pm

Textile Folk Art Inspired Stockings
Quilt Museum
Saturday 17 November, 10am-4pm

Ceramic Plate Painting
6 October, 11am-1pm
Design and paint your own ceramic plate in this workshop led by artist and tutor Kirstie Briggs-Bateman. Be taken through the surface design process and be inspired using the museum’s collection. All materials will be provided.

And check out the Inspire website for a programme of workshops, lectures and events in York.