Adult Learners

SpringCollSpringfield Raising money for the international work and getting Citizen Wealth in the hands of readers is an interesting grind on college campuses these days, especially for a two-time dropout on long parole from higher education.  Talking to two classes on Sunday afternoon that was part of the Springfield College School of Human Services was an interesting and different experience though.  Anytime you find yourself sitting among 40 students that are all adults and mainly African-American and Latino with a token white or two in the room, I know something different is happening that I had not expected.

Probing after the class, I found out that the School of Human Services program is a special offering for adult learners that Springfield College has now managed for almost twenty years both here at the mother ship and in almost a dozen other locations.  When I asked the students how many were from Springfield, only about 10% indicated that they were.  Others were from Hartford, New Haven, and all around New England it seemed.  The deal is that they hump it from their real jobs to spend a couple of grueling weekends with back-to-back 8 hour class days every semester for three semesters a year in order over usually two years to get a full degree from the School of Human Services from Springfield College.  The whole program is designed for an emphasis in the “helping professions” among non-profits, human services, social welfare, and agency work.  How smart is that?

The program must be successful judging from the engagement of the eager students in my class.  It was refreshing to speak to an audience that immediately knew what “squatting” was as a tactic to push cities to develop housing programs.  These folks had no doubt that the Community Reinvestment Act did not cause the recession and understand how important it was to pay the mortgage.  I met one former organizer with the great organization, HART, in Hartford, and another who know Carmen Rivera, one of the seminal leaders of Springfield Welfare Rights when I organized years ago.  This was fun.

Obviously it’s good business for Springfield College as well.  Looking the program up on the web later, it turns out they have “campuses” in a bunch of places all over the country.  Not just New England, but Charleston, South Carolina, Los Angeles, and, even Houston, the most recent fort they have established on the frontier just down I-10 from me.

We need more of these programs to get the real news and hard truth out there to non-traditional adult students who can make huge differences if they can learn how to operate with different paradigms and create real change.

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