The first step is often the hardest

Ross has worked for the WEA in Scotland for 16 years, mainly on literacy and employability projects. In his experience, if a learner can re-enter the classroom, they are already well on their way.

People in Falkirk are feeling excluded. It’s not just from the workforce, but from society too. Adult education is more vital today than ever.

For employability, yes. But also for people’s mental health, their confidence, and their self-esteem. For some of my class, sending that first email to an employer and getting a response is a big achievement. An actual job may be a year down the road. But those first steps are critical in helping them find their feet.

The way I pitch The WEA is: it’s not like school. We’re not trying to fix people’s educational deficit. We look at their strengths, what’s relevant to them and their lives, and we build the course around that. Learners quickly realise this is a different way of learning. I’ll encourage them to have a good blether, as we say here. What usually comes out is they had a bad experience of mainstream education. It helps us to create a bond and wipe the slate clean.

I try not to judge people. You’ve got to listen to your learners. I gain as much from them, as they do from me. Empathy is your biggest asset as a tutor.

I’ll encourage them to have a good blether. What usually comes out is they had a bad experience of mainstream education.

Ross

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