Unbelievably, it is that time of year again!
Last year, we asked the DACE admin team to write us a blog about what new students could expect from the autumn term. This year, we thought it would be a good idea to hear from the tutors to see what they enjoy about the role and what you can expect as a new, or returning, DACE student. Dr. Daryl Leeworthy very kindly offered to write us a short piece about his experiences so far in adult education and the many benefits of working within a diverse and tight-knit community.
With the nights drawing in and the leaves beginning to change colour, it’s almost time for the team of adult and continuing education tutors to come back onto campus and into community venues across South-West Wales to begin the new academic year. I always look forward to starting out on a new adventure at this time of year: meeting new students, reconnecting with old ones, going to teach in a new community venue or two, and finding out which room we’ll all be meeting in for the next nine months. (And where the coffee machine is.)
I’ve been working as a tutor in history and politics with the Department for Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) here at Swansea University for nearly three years. Coming to teach at DACE meant returning to the city and university where I completed my PhD. That was in the history of the South Wales Coalfield and you’ll still find me beavering away in the Richard Burton Archives on campus or at the South Wales Miners’ Library. Say hello if you see me! These days my classes cover anything from the American War of Independence to the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike. And that’s just what we’re officially studying, the discussions we have in class always seem to go off in different directions – we really do look at the past from all sorts of angles and viewpoints.
Being a tutor for DACE means working in a different way to the lecturers and professors who come on to campus in the daytime: trust me, I’ve been one of those too. And that’s because studying part time is a different experience to studying full time. Students tell me about writing their essays on the nightshift when it’s quiet, about reading up for the next assignment in the lulls between call outs or fares, about squeezing in a ‘library run’ before heading home from class. So as tutors we always try to provide an open door, offering as much advice and encouragement as we can, whenever it’s needed. There’s always a cup of tea, too.
Although that’s all on hold at the Christmas Quiz – the tutors are on a bit of a losing streak.
In truth, we’re all part of a big family here at DACE, with relatives all over the place: even in parliament! It’s that collegiality that I enjoy the most, whether you’re a new student with us this year, or a tutor of many years, there’s the same spirit. We really are, as the motto of my former secondary school in Pontypridd has it, learning and achieving together.
To hear more about Daryl’s research, follow him @DrLeeworthy. For updates from the Miners’ Library, follow us @swminerslibrary.