Some time ago, I delivered with the help of a colleague a series of workshops on creative facilitation at a tutor conference. If you weren’t there, the approaches enable tutors and students to explore themes and topics, often serious, in a way which uses head-heart-and hand language and actions. It gets students moving and feeling outside of their head, and so, can feel liberating.
I’ve now been asked to help draw up a training plan for WEA tutors which can fit this alongside our Social Purpose aims. By this I mean we are not only about providing a learning experience for our students in the classroom, which is hugely beneficial in itself, but also aiming to connect individuals and groups together through action within their local community and society in general. I hope this doesn’t come as something new to you.
But I would like to ask you to share with me questions you have about using these methods in practice with your groups. Or do you do much of this already? If so, what do you do and how does it go down with your students? Can you share? It will help us greatly in putting the training offer together to know what some of you at least need from this.
Over the past year, I have begun to think that the model we use of a typical 20 hour course followed by another, while having its merits, is also limiting where I would like us to grow. How would it be if you were able to plan a course which could be delivered over one or two years, one which leads your students towards level 2 or even 3 provision?
I see connections here between courses and outside events taking place with, for example, students attending meetings on local issues or contributing to online discussions and compaigns. And this would include our own WEA events programme for members and volunteers, offering opportunities to explore the arts and cultural scenes, critical thinking matters and contemporary issues in a creative way. We could even see the re-emergence of the WEA summer residential, so loved by students in the past! Who knows..?
Some tutors I’ve talked to about this have seemed excited by the prospect of a two year planning cycle, working with a group which is part of their local community, rooted in the world. But they have also raised issues around drop-out and recruitment over an extended period. Courses or modules would have to be flexible enough to offer progression to the core group as well as allow new students to join and ‘older’ ones to move on. This approach might not work in every subject area, particularly one which has a linear, sequential thread. But it will be fine in others which take a wider look at the themes within their courses; ones which require practice or discussion or making things…
Now, is that doable? What do you think..?