As summer draws to a close, many of us decide to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Whether it’s because we want to distract ourselves from the slowly darkening evenings or simply a response to an ingrained feeling that August/September is ‘Back to School’ time, the desire to try something new is often strongest in autumn. Due to the traditional UK academic year, this is the time with the most courses available to you as many recognised qualifications and courses that are at least a year in length tend to begin in September or October. Don’t assume that it’s now or never though, as there are also thousands of short courses that begin at many other times throughout the year.
Recently, I attended a (we don’t want to call it hen) party where one of the planned activities was archery. After a few hours of safely shooting arrows into a target and feeling like we were in Game of Thrones, I came away with a medal and a desire to learn more so have since enrolled on a five week beginner’s archery course with Experience Archery. This isn’t the first time a taster of a new skill has led to more. In the last year, I went from never having learnt ballet to showing off my pointe skills in front of a room full of people, thanks to a series of short courses with Irreverent Dance (ID). These courses were all accessible and fun, which is exactly what any form of education should be.
Fancy learning something new yourself? Search for something you’d like to try using Google, or go via a website like Hot Courses if you are more specific about what you’re looking for. Get recommendations from friends, family or Twitter followers. Find out what they’ve learnt and where… those places may do other things that interest you. For example, ID have swing, latin, staff & poi, yoga and hip hop as well as the ballet courses I took. Ask yourself what the most important outcome is for you – mastering a skill, overcoming a fear, meeting new people, or gaining a qualification – and look for courses which meet that criteria. Whilst living in London, I have taken fantastic short courses at the University of the Arts London, Prescott & Mackay, City University and The Make Lounge (who have sadly now closed), as well as the two places mentioned above. They’ve all been incredibly enriching experiences and I would highly recommend every course I have done.
Have you taken a short course or evening class? Has it led to new friendships or even a career change? I’d love to hear about your experiences of lifelong learning.
First image by lipsticklori. Second image taken at an Irreverent Dance open class by Jon Topper.