From Poldark to Midsomer Murders - History of the WEA in Cornwall

Ref: C3528705

Successful author Winston Graham was Perranporth's class secretary when history-tutor Fred Harris encouraged him to try his hand at 'a historic novel'. Their lifelong friendship will be the starting point for this romp through WEA history.

Course aim

This short taster activity aims to introduce the history of the WEA in Cornwall through some achievements of its students and tutors.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will explore the creative friendships and interactions between WEA tutors and students throughout the 20th century. Many talented individuals like Sven Berlin, Charles Causley, Winston Graham, W.J. Burley and Charles Thomas were inspired by the likes of Fred Harris, Tom Attlee, Gerard Collier, Gladys Malbon, Ann Treneer, Frank and Stella Turk and Richard Rodda Blewett. We shall also look at how the WEA took off in Cornwall in 1918 in the most radical of Cornish towns and how founding principles like tolerance, respect, diversity and equality continue to be upheld by this well-loved institution.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Understand how Cornwall fits in to the WEA network and why it took over 15 years to take root. 2. Appreciate how life-changing the WEA could be for its students. 3. Gain an understanding of WEA core values and purpose.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Through group and individual discussion.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Notebook and pencil.

Reading and information sources

No reading required, but there are a number of interesting articles on WEA tutors in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall and a volume of essays edited by Gordon McCallum entitled 'A Story of Adult Education in Cornwall: 70 years of the W.E.A.' (1989).

What could the course lead to?

Further WEA or adult education courses and activities. Researching other WEA personalities. For further reading see above and Mel Doyle 'A Very Special Adventure: The Illustrated History of the Workers' Educational Association' (2003)

Download full course outline

From Poldark to Midsomer Murders - History of the WEA in Cornwall Course Outline


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  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
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