September, for many, is the month for returning to school, college, university and night school.
Education is not just for those who are in it full-time. Night classes, night school or part time education has been around a LONG time and I have studied for various exams and qualifications since I left full time education. In fact, I would be so bold as to say the qualifications I have gained since leaving full time education have proved the most useful to me in employment. If you are thinking about night school let me share with you why it has been successful for me.
Childminding suited me very well when my children were pre-school and I was at home. I needed to be qualified for this so I undertook suitable study and voila! I became a childminder. The course was over a month as I recall and I had to pay for it. But this wasn’t the first venture into education after school that I had done…
We don’t need no education…
I loved doing A levels. No, that’s a lie. I loved going to college to do A levels. Quite a different thing altogether. I enjoyed college life, the social life that is, and if the object of sixth form was to go to as many parties as possible and spend as many lessons in the common room as possible, I would have come out with straight A’s. I scraped through one A level and then left. Most of the following 12 months were spent looking for a job with 4 million others- ah, don’t you miss the 80s?
It’s not what you know but who you know
My first lucky break happened after I had been unemployed for 8 months when a friend of my mother’s happened to be on an interview panel I came up before. The interview wasn’t spectacular, as I recall, but they gave me the job. I quite liked it but niggling at the back of my mind was I could get a better one if I had more qualifications. So I went to night school to get another A level; the one I should have got had I not been drinking Blue Moons like they were going out of fashion!
One thing that struck me about studying at night was the eclectic mix of people there. I was probably the youngest one in the class. The others were there because they wanted to be and because they had an interest in the subject, Sociology. There was no messing about or cheeking the teacher. But success! I just about scraped through that one too.
You can never have too many O levels, you know!
Fast forward a few years and I decided I need a career change. Teaching was my choice (those holidays!) and so to help my application to the local Teacher Training College I studied for an O level in Child Psychology one evening a week for a year. This subject was actually very interesting and I even made a couple of quid on the side by giving lifts to fellow students, so it was good all round really. The subject required knowledge of psychological studies and their dates which I found almost impossible to remember. When I was in school, dates of battles and treaties etc came easily to me – but now, they all seemed to merge into one and I don’t know how I managed to pass the exam! I didn’t train to be a teacher after all.
It’s the future!
‘Soon every office will have one!” exclaimed Judith Hann on Tomorrow’s World one 70’s night. She was tapping away on a huge computer and a machine was spewing out reems of paper – spreadsheets.
That was my next foray into the world of night school. Not in the seventies of course, I was still in high school then. I thought that if I knew my way around a spreadsheet and a Word document I would be highly employable. It certainly opened up a some opportunities for me and was worth spending 3 hours a week in a draughty classroom during what felt like one of the coldest winters in living memory. Learning on a computer was very different from desk based education and I loved it, despite the chilblains.
My latest achievement has pleased me the most. A couple of years ago my eldest was starting his GCSE courses in high school. His confidence in maths wasn’t great so I had the bright idea to study for it myself at night school so I could help him. I was sure maths had changed a lot since I got my O level back when Noah was a lad. Maybe they had different methods of teaching these days…
And I was right! And my maths class was so much fun! The maths wasn’t obviously, but we had such a laugh. I sat by Jane and we became Facebook friends. I became Facebook friends with the teacher too (and you can only do that in night school).
By telling anyone who was interested that I wanted an A* in my GCSE, I quickly realised that if I didn’t study for 20 hours a day at least, that wasn’t going to happen. “Doing Maths” was the reply if anyone asked me what I was doing at the weekend/Easter break/in the evening. I revised more for my one maths exam than my eldest did for the ALL of his GCSEs put together! I worked my socks off as my eldest had had a light bulb moment as far as maths was concerned, and was now on target for an A. Typical.
Results day loomed and mine was emailed to me. I already knew my eldest had achieved an A* and how do you think I felt when I matched this? Yes, I was over the moon. An A*! They hadn’t even invented A*s when I was in school and now I had one.
And obviously I was VERY proud of my eldest. How he did it along with all of his other subjects I don’t know.
Learning as an adult has it’s advantages of course but it takes determination, discipline and damned hard work.
Now where did I put that Open University application form?