Accrington and Rossendale College “The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is to running.”
– Simone Weil

Soapbox challenge

Learning has to be about fun, for tutor and student alike, something which is too often neglected in an age where economics and management targets increasingly dominate formal education.

In May we ran a Lawnmower course, in partnership with Lancashire User Forum and Rossendale and Accrington College, over three weeks. It taught people to use a petrol-powered lawnmower ‘safely and efficiently’.

The joy of the students was exemplified by Gemma who, when asked about her favourite aspect, said beamingly ‘Passing the course!’. This is the first accredited course Gemma has passed and she’s rightly pleased. ‘I gained a lot of confidence in using the mower,’ Gemma continued, ‘I still like having someone beside me when I start the mower up – starting it can be a bit tricky, but after that I’m happy.’

The City & Guilds course was run by Nicola from Rossendale and Accrington College, and supported by our own Community Gardener, Tom. When asked about the value of such a course Nicola said, ‘It has used the skills people have, enhanced them, given them confidence and they can then use their knowledge either at home, if they have a garden, or for work in horticulture. For some people this has been the first time they have passed an accredited course, they know now they can be recognised. The group have strengthened their team working, they are really supportive of each other which all goes to show how much they are enjoying it.’

Tom, who supported Gemma take the course said, ‘At the beginning Gemma was very apprehensive about using the mower, she listened carefully about how to operate the mower, the safety instructions and despite her nerves, plucked up the courage to give it a go. You could see her confidence growing each time she started the mower. To see her go from being afraid of power tools to now asking to use them, it’s great’.

When I asked Tom about how he found supporting people on the course he said, ‘I really enjoyed giving tips and encouragement, the group were all supportive of each other, it was so good to see.’ The benefits of delivering practical experiential learning with joy has been clear and for Gemma hugely productive.

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