Two years ago today I wrote my first post on this blog. I had just taken the plunge to teach independently, away from FE and Adult Ed colleges. At the time it felt like a massive gamble and on the whole I’m more of a worrier than a gambler! I don’t want to tempt the doom fairies, but I reckon it was a good decision. Two years is not so long really, but such a lot has happened, I never imagined when I wrote that first post that I’d end up taking over the venue where I was teaching those first cautious classes and turn it into the business I’d always dreamed of having. There you go, they say gambling is addictive and the more risks I took, the more I now want to take.
I’m a great believer in the power of education; despite going to a comprehensive school that was competing for the worst reputation in Sheffield, I was lucky enough to have a couple of teachers who encouraged me to do what I enjoyed and found I was good at. As a naive eighteen year old I was too afraid to move away to go to university and as no-one in my family had ever been and none of my friends were going, work was the normal route, not a lifetime of education. So, I went into a “safe” and mind-numbingly boring office job, but kept the imagination alive by attending every adult education evening class that I could, from learning to touch type (a skill I now use every single day), to studying English language and my saviour……a City & Guilds in Fashion.
This rambling potted version of my life history brings me back to my original point – education. It changed my life and enabled me to get to the privileged position I’m now in of being able to earn a living from what I love. But that initial gamble I took two years ago was informed by what I could see happening within the local authority world of adult education.
Today local colleges are cutting back their adult education programmes to their core. Centres are closing and the variety of courses available has been reduced to a bare minimum. However, the demand and need for vocational education and for the provision of learning out of interest to simply enrich lives hasn’t dwindled. There are still, in fact probably more than ever, adults changing career and re-training, being made redundant and taking some time out, learning new skills to save money and setting up small businesses.
Such things are also happening nationally and with higher education. University is again becoming for the privileged few and there seems to be little learning of practical skills on those art and design courses that manage to survive the current drive to undermine a creative education, in favour of more “academic” and “classical” routes.
I believe in future that there will be a huge movement of people, both those about to start a career and those looking to change direction, who will be looking for a way to learn skills. Not just theories or ideas, but real hands-on practical skills from which they will be able to earn a living, start a business and gain a lifetime of enjoyment. So for my second birthday I received a rather nice present yesterday; I found out that I’m going to be able to offer City & Guilds Fashion courses at MIY Workshop. It seems right that I will be able to offer to other people the very thing that set me off on this road all those years ago.
Happy Birthday to me and thanks to all of you who have made it possible so far – students, readers, colleagues, fellow creators and those inspirational teachers that gave me the first push.
More details soon on City & Guilds Fashion courses that will be available at MIY Workshop from 2013.