Shirley Arayan Education is not just for the young
When you think of the word education what do you think about? Children just starting school, perhaps, or young people heading off for college or university?
Actually education is open to all of us whether we are nine or 99 and I try to keep abreast of the latest trends in hobbies and interests as, here at Norton Radstock College, quite often we will devise a course to suit.
Take mobile phones for example. For many they are an essential part of life but there are those who don't know how to switch it on, let alone text or browse the internet.
We have held short courses on how to use a mobile and you'd probably be surprised at just how many people attend.
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Some have been given one as a gift by a well-meaning relative but the recipient has no idea how to use it.
As a result of their success we have introduced other IT-based short courses such as how to buy on eBay and how to use Skype.
Similarly with the number of people keeping chickens at home on the increase we have linked up with Farrington's Farm Shop to help teach the skills needed to create a poultry house and care for chickens.
Knowing how to look after an animal – of whatever breed – is vital, and while we teach young people wanting careers working with animals on full-time courses and apprenticeships we think it's important to extend animal care lessons to the community.
And the community is a key word for any college. We are part of many communities – students, parents, neighbours, local employers and partners.
We also have to remember that learning isn't always about getting a qualification or extending a career.
It can also be for leisure, to find out how to do something you have always wanted to do but not known how to go about it, or simply to get a basic understanding of how something works.
Which is why as well as producing a guide to career related qualifications and skills, we have produced a separate leisure learning one with lots of short courses covering topics such as for buying goods online, restoring furniture, digital editing, dressmaking, restoring classic cars, pottery, carpentry and the list goes on.
It's about making learning interesting and accessible; making new friends as well as discovering something new.
Going back to being part of the communities we serve, we also hold courses off main campus and use other sites and venues.
Why don't you try it?
Shirley Arayan is Principal at Norton Radstock College, in Somerset