It is my belief that education should exist for the enlightenment, enrichment and stimulation of all. It should not be confused with training and it should not be considered the domain solely of the young. Education should be a life-long experience. That doesn’t mean that you have to permanently on a course or always studying for exams. Education is much broader than that. It can be studying for a degree but equally it can just be reading a book. Education should be for education’s sake and not be about producing candidates for jobs.
The Workers Education Association has always struck me as a laudable organisation. An organisation whose raison d’être is to bring knowledge and inspiration to the working masses. Recently and for the first time in my life I was fortunate enough to attend one of their day classes. The day school was about place names in Norwich, and it was both interesting and informative. The class was well subscribed. I would guess there would have been at least fifty of us there. Ironically, despite it being run by the Workers Education Association, I would suggest that at most half a dozen of us would have been in some kind of paid employment. The rest of the class was made up of people over retiring age, the majority women, and most well into their retirement. It was like a convention of aged ex-schoolma’ams. All Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail readers to a man and many apparent groupies of the short, rotund, balding, slightly camp pedant* running what was essentially a lecture. Strangely a large proportion of the assembled masses present seemed to know a hefty bit about the subject matter before they went. That’s the middle classes for you; swots! I went knowing nothing at all, but came away knowing a whole lot more about my new home. I also came away slightly saddened by the news that there is no longer a Gropekunte Lane in this fine city.
* Not a term of abuse. Absolutely nothing wrong with pedantry!