Knowledge is power ... and fun

Posted on: 08 October 2010 by Arlene Kessly

Learning is not all about studying for qualifications or to improve job opportunities. It can help you expand what you are best at and help boost your social life. Learning can develop new, update old and enhance your current skills.

Lifelong learning

What are your plans for the autumn/winter season? If you are already bemoaning the fact that the evenings are drawing-in, and dreading the lack of sunlight hours, there could just be a bright distraction strategy that will transform the grey days ahead.

We’re all familiar with the adage You’re never to old to learn. I’ve regularly had cause to echo those words - happily - on most occasions. When life seems humdrum and predictable, there’s little I relish more than the challenge and excitement of embracing a fresh skill or enhancing some small knowledge I’ve already accrued. Age doesn’t have to be a barrier to gaining the benefits - enthusiasm is key.

I admit to being mildly addicted when it comes to the acquisition of a new accomplishment. My quest always confirms that there’s plenty to inspire and invigorate. Perhaps there’s something you regret not having had the opportunity, or time, to do when you were younger, or during your schooldays. There’s an abundant world of wonders when it comes to finding a course to follow. Take the plunge and you’ll discover that the passion, which may have lain dormant, will swiftly be rekindled. Autumn is the perfect season to start.

I don’t always like - or recommend - going for the obvious. One happy route of learning I set out on - a few short years ago - was a Stand-up Comedy course. Not so that I might take to the stage - doing the circuit was never on my ambition list - but rather so that I could turn my hand to writing topical humour; even, simply, to prove something to myself and for my own amusement. I was fortunate enough to discover a class, relatively locally. I duly signed-up and swiftly encountered my fellow comics-in-waiting. They were a pleasant and intriguing surprise - ranging in age from 16 to 70-plus - encompassing a broad spectrum of individuals, including a freelance film and advert’ producer, a Kiwi nanny, a renowned media doctor, an actress, and a first year A’ level student.

Nerves and a degree of edginess ran through every lesson - in differing forms - which only added to each week’s potential hilarity. But we always empathised with one another, understood and waited patiently, as a classmate wavered before taking their turn to perform a newly honed repartee - in front of us all. My own (slightly pathetic) nerves took the form of a ridiculous amount of (mildly embarrassing) giggles (aka corpsing), before I shared my routine. That was one way of getting everyone laughing with me, prior to hearing my jokes... even though it was unintentional!

The overriding emotion throughout our time together was enjoyment, tinged with fun and tittering, as we shared the thrills, skills and terror we were subjecting ourselves to - masterminded by comedy guru, Tony Kirwood. After each tutorial, we’d chill-out, in the nearest pub, many of us partaking in a form of confessional, with firm friendships being established.

As the weeks continued, the growth and progression of some students, in particular, was a joy to behold. The end-of-course performances - held on a real stage - (aaargh!), in front of a ‘proper’ live audience, were well-received - often genuinely comedic and fit for wider acclaim. The star of our little Richmond Parkshot pool, Jude Mahon, used her talent, and the skills fine-tuned as part of our group, to go on to reach the finals of that year’s Funny Women competition.

My future wish-list includes Write A Novel in a Month, Italian Advanced Conversation and Current Affairs, Spanish Flamenco and a TEFL or CELTA qualification. Perhaps Uplifting Gospel, Tassel Making (passementerie), Tai Chi, or Turkish Belly Dancing hold more appeal for you. Why not explore what’s on offer; inject some sunshine, inspiration and fun, into the gloom of the grey winter months ahead by choosing a convivial course of your own to enjoy?

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Lifelong learning

Have you retained your thirst for knowledge and new skills, or does the prospect of trying to retrain and learn again fill you with dread?

  1. 83% Yes
  2. 16% I'm older and wise enough, thank you very much!
  3. 0% No
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