Insights into being a facilitator from one of our stars!

Upon making my way ┬áto teach my first-ever course with Hale and Fun in August this year, I was expecting to be talking to a group of people much like my ninety-one year-old nanna – very old, very sweet… and very conservative. Considering that I am a tattooed, pierced lesbian with bits of pink in my hair, and that I was scheduled to be teaching a course entitled ‘Banned: A History of Controversial British Literature’, I was more than a little apprehensive. Not only this, but for the second week’s reading, due to be given out that afternoon in order to leave my students enough time to read it before the next week’s class, I had set some poetry by the Earl of Rochester, an infamous Restoration poet whose decidedly, er, ‘modern’ take on how frequently the words ‘c***’ and ‘f***’ should be used in poetry had offended even my fellow uni students during the class I’d taken on him two years ago. I had, of course, tried to choose some of the less offensive works and run the selections by both Daniel and our contacts at the retirement village, but despite their approval I was convinced that I was going to be beaten with handbags and have bottles of blue rinse thrown at me by the next lesson at the very least.

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This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Over the course of the four weeks, I met some of the most delightful older ladies it has ever been my pleasure to meet. One attendee grew up in Darlinghurst, and claimed that meant that she could handle anything – and it seemed to, another had far more knowledge about my area of study than I’d expected (and, unsettlingly, even more knowledge than me at times!), while a third defended her unpopular opinions with calm logic, and, much to my surprise, by the middle of the first lesson, some of my attendees were even making sex jokes!

They mounted defenses of homosexuality before they even knew I was gay (with far more conviction than Nanna ever did), refused to justify censorship even in the face of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, and shared many wonderful anecdotes from their wealth of life experience with me. There were seven women at first (with our sole male attendee to appear in the third week), and most of them came every week – and when they couldn’t, they’d send their apologies and explain their more pressing engagements. (I swear, some of these retirees seem to have more of a social life than I do…)

I thoroughly enjoyed our time together and honestly looked forward to my classes every week, despite the almost hour-long drive out to the village. I am very sorry that the classes are over and really hope I get another chance to teach there – and for anyone else who’s lucky enough to get a course scheduled there, these oldies will surprise you, challenge you, and really make you smile. I didn’t expect them to be so cool, but I’m delighted that they were. Rock on, ladies!

 

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