Image of WEA tutor John Rivers

I have run Adult Education classes for 24 years: ‘Plays and Playgoing’ in Notts. for 20 years, and ‘Poems for Pleasure’ in Notts. and Derbys. for 15 years. Not lectures, but discovering-by–reading poems; discovery-by-following–student–suggestions–as–a–way–into poems; and farther down the line discovery–by–writing–and–sharing poems.

My aim is that everyone comes to “own” as many poems as possible at a level that is meaningful to each individual…mainly 20thC. poems, as we can sense the possibilities in contemporary metaphors and sense the patterns in modern uses of language. In the last 40 years there has been an astonishing emergence of women poets, and groups have loved work by Anne Stevenson, U.A. Fanthorpe, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy et al.

And plays? Discovery–by–reading–them–in advance, especially new plays where guidelines don’t exist; discovery–by–discussion–after–performances…. an increased social life…. vivid unpredictable discussions…. bits of improvised acting in the classroom…. maybe writing an extra scene….

The other half of me is a working, self-taught Potter, who digs his clay, has built his kiln, runs week-end courses, (and needs publicity and customers!!). All this is recorded on www.riddingspottery.co.uk via a series of short films of the processes; and the delights, dramas and disasters of pot-making.

I.E. My life is built round the arts, trying to master them, trying to communicate and pass them on before it’s too late. The key word is EXPERIENTIAL learning. A long teaching-life suggests that people “own” the literature that they have brought alive somehow for themselves.

Guilty Secret. I’m terrified of computers, and have no idea what a “social network” is (or even a mobile phone). I hope these long-hand thoughts make it to the correct screen.