Social Life and your Studies

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Many Irish further education classes are relatively informal, and mix learning with plenty of fun and relaxation. We look at the social studies side of taking a nightcourse.

There is a definite social aspect to taking a nightcourse in Ireland. Many people considering taking a class are just as interested in relaxing and unwinding, as they are in gaining a professional qualification. Obviously it depends on the courses and subjects involved, but for every one person enrolling in a nightcourse to advance their career, there is another taking a class because they enjoy the topic, fancy meeting new people or just think it will be fun.

There are many courses where the sense of achievement derives not from the certificate you get at the end, but from the bit of craic and camaraderie experienced throughout. People who spend all day at home, or long hours stuck in the office or car, can welcome the opportunity to pass an evening a week in the comfortable and convivial atmosphere of a nightcourse.

Not all courses are examination driven; many are more informal and don’t have a set syllabus which has to be covered. It is not uncommon for teachers to talk to students in advance, or on the first evening, and discuss what form the classes will take, what subjects will be covered, and what each student hopes to get out of the course. This doesn’t work too well in law or medicine, but if you are taking a class in healthy cooking, jewellery making, or African drumming, it makes plenty of sense.

Other peoples’ sense of achievement comes from really enjoying and knowing their subject. With so many course options available, there really is something for everyone, no matter how individual or obscure your interests. Whether you are into international relations, furniture restoration, chess, or any of the many hundreds of other subjects listed on this site, a nightcourse is a good place to find people who share your particular hobby or subject area.

Nightcourses can also offer up excellent networking opportunities, and students on intensive courses often build strong friendships over a coffee or drink afterwards. Especially in business or professional qualification courses, people often swap career tips, learn about industry trends, and even conduct business dealings.

Some courses can also be great fun. The first night may feature a few awkward silences, but learning together is a great way of breaking down social barriers and giving people something to talk about. Some classes (e. g. salsa dancing, language classes, drama) require people to divide into couples or small groups to practice new skills. This kind of social interaction is often the most enjoyable part of the whole nightcourse experience.

We wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that nightcourses are in any way akin to a lonely-hearts club or dating agency, but some people do see nightcourses as opportunities to meet like-minded people, with whom they have something in common, in a relaxed and un-embarrassing atmosphere. We have anecdotal evidence that suggests that many a long and enduring friendship is formed over 8 consecutive Tuesday evenings in the spring.

Many nightcourses are far from the traditional stereotypical image of a group of silent adults sitting in a classroom taking notes while the teacher stays at the top of the room giving their uninterrupted presentation. With such a huge variety of subjects and delivery styles to choose from in the field of Irish further education, a mad variety of sounds, colours, smells and laughs emanate from Ireland’s classrooms each evening every week. Trust us, learning is fun

Frank Bolger

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