As a consumer of Community Education, I learned how to use a computer and relevant software when my need was great because it was imperative as a writer, artist and communicator to get with the digital age or financially die. Being a freelancer meant there were no handy work place all- expenses-paid- whilst- you- get- paid kind of courses. Night classes made this essential world available to me.
I learned to type with more than two fingers at a night class. This was pretty useful in writing up my thesis and three novels. My education as a girl was focussed on Latin and French rather that the keyboard (Girls' School streaming into everyday uselessness) and a Pittman course was priced out of my self employed $50 professional development budget.
At Te Reo classes, learned my mihimihi and how to pronounce to names of books I illustrate, greet teachers and children in schools properly on my author vists and to say Morena on the Good Morning Show without fear of mangling vowels with my Pakeha tongue.
I taught life drawing one night a week and watched students gain confidence and joy in their ability to observe and document the human form when some thought they might never find a new skill and talent in their lives.
So I have sent Stop Night Class Cuts postcards to my MP Annette King (Labour) and the Minister of Education. Annette sent me back a personal letter sympathising and suggestions on how to make my protest more visible by way of a petition- I’ve signed lots of them for others too. I haven’t heard back from Anne as yet- I expect her pigeon hole is swamped…
I wrote the following poem years ago when there was no threat to continuing education at a price the average punter could afford. When education was not the preserve of the rich or safely salaried. When getting out of the house and learning something new was encouraged. I could laugh and joke, tongue in cheek, because I never imagined for a moment that it might be taken away. Auē.
I thought I'd do an evening class,
So went and checked them out,
At our local high school,
Which left me in no doubt;
That 'Accounting for Beginners',
Was too sensible for me,
As the purpose of my life,
Is to have one and one make three.
'Culinary Cordon Bleu',
Had appetite appeal,
But I don't get time to grocery shop,
When would I cook a meal?
'Belly Dancing' looked like fun,
With tinkly bra and veil,
The thought of baring stretch marks though,
Left me feeling pale.
'Italian Made Easy',
Made me smirk a lot,
I could tell a nice young waiter,
That I like my pasta hot…
But all of these required,
Me to rush about at six
And organise a sitter,
Whilst I fed my hungry chicks.
I think I'll just create a course
That's tailor made for me,
Called 'Relaxation Methods'
-where I blob out after tea!