I really enjoyed working with the students, all of whom, for diverse reasons are returning to education and are hungry to learn. There was a real sense of being given a second chance and not having time to waste. It made for an intense and proactive session - a small group, full of questions and ideas, stayed behind afterwards and we happily overran by almost an hour. The course is clearly both important and liberating for them.
I think Drama programmes benefit from having mature students in tow. They often remind school leavers of the importance of education and bring a sense of confidence to debate and discussion. The risk is that they adopt a position of authority, of mistaking life experience for wisdom, but most returners just seem determined to wring every ounce of information and knowledge out of the lecturers and encourage their peers to do the same.
It made me realise that St Mary's is a very young University - perhaps the vocational and dynamic nature our core business: Education, Drama and Sport make this inevitable - we could do with more balance. The post-recession rise in unemployment, might also mean that there is a genuine need to offer exciting possibilities for retraining and new adventures for those who want or need to change direction. I think a return to education programme could really help us create diverse and dynamic pathway groups and perhaps protect us a little from complacency.