Tue 10 Apr 2018

Ingredients for life skills

It is Wednesday morning and the Skills for Living classroom at Witt is a hive of activity.

 Enticing aromas permeate the air. There is a clattering of utensils as students move around the classroom chopping, stirring, measuring, weighing, periodically checking on the recipe in order to assess that they have the sequence of events in the right order. Conversations buzz. Someone is not sure on how much water to put into the recipe. A classmate reminds the measurer on what they did when they practised this skill earlier in the morning, triggering a recognition of which line indicates the level of 1 cup of water. The jug is filled appropriately and confirmation is sought before it is put into the pan. Success! Somebody else suggests a possible variation to the recipe. There is a short discussion within the group and it is decided that a few herbs might enhance the flavour – Basil is the herb of choice, but how much should be put in? Another conversation takes place. A teaspoon seems the appropriate measuring tool, the herb is added and it is generally agreed that the flavour is richer for the addition. Finally, the table is laid and, after checking the timer on the stove to make sure that everything is cooked to perfection, the class sits down as a group to partake in a nutritionally rich lunch which they have cooked themselves.

This is a good example of the type of learning which goes on in this classroom. Rich learning experiences are designed around everyday life and tailored to the individual needs of the learners. The timetable covers Communication, Computers, Health and Safety, Self-Development, Cooking, Community Mobility, Effective work Practice and Leisure. Life is not so neatly compartmentalised – all of these subjects overlap and interweave naturally every day. The timetable is primarily a vehicle to allow individuals to attend part-time if they wish, as sometimes students have other commitments in the form of part-time work or activities that fill their week on other days.  In the words of the tutors, “learning is a lifelong process, happening as the result of meaningful and relevant experiences which relate to the everyday lives of our learners. For example, this morning we helped one student fill in a form for WINZ. Literacy and numeracy are embedded strongly within everything.”

WITT offers a New Zealand Certificate in Skills for Living for Supported Learners, with an optional strand in Skills for Work, which can be completed in the second year. The Level 1 programme runs for a year full-time or part time and is available in New Plymouth, free to domestic students. Skills for work will be run part time over a year with the pre-requisite being that students need to have completed Skills for Living beforehand.

The programme was introduced this year and supporting  literature notes “graduates will be able to self-manage participation in social, cultural, family/whānau and community contexts, with supervision and/or be encouraged to seek further skills and knowledge to improve their educational and employment pathway.”

Students can and do progress to Foundation programmes and gain exposure to the suite of programmes designed to assist school leavers achieve tertiary level study qualifications.

When tutor Jane Slinger spoke to WITT News 16 students were enrolled in the course.

Anyone interested in enrolling is welcome to call Jane, Gayle or Kath on 7573100 Ext 8726 to arrange an informal interview over a cuppa.

For more details, go to https://www.witt.ac.nz/Courses/Foundation-Studies/New-Zealand-Certificate-in-Skills-for-Living-for-Supported-Learners-(Level-1)/