Read to Lead in the Alt Valley

Last week, we began a Read to Lead Non-Residential Training course in the Alt Valley area of Liverpool. Sixteen trainees came together from a variety of backgrounds to take part in an intensive shared reading experience, and over the next six weeks, in six day-long sessions, they will learn how to lead Get Into Reading groups. Brian Spurgin, one of the trainees, gives his verdict on the first day:

I was introduced to The Reader Organisation as part of my work as a Learning Champion in the Alt Valley. I joined a weekly Get Into Reading group at The Communiversity, where I’ve enjoyed listening to, reading and talking about short stories and poetry in a friendly and relaxed setting. Following on from that experience I was offered a place on the Read to Lead Non-Residential Training course being run at The Communiversity.

I was a little apprehensive about what to expect. I have been on various academic related courses over the years, but Read to Lead Training would be a new experience for me. I love to read and feel confident that I could share my thoughts and opinions in regard to short stories; but on the other hand I have very little experience when it comes to reading poetry.

The first day of training began with everyone introducing themselves to the group. Then Jane Davis (TRO Director) started the reading session with a short story, ‘A Worn Path’ by Eudora Welty, stopping every so often to give us an opportunity to voice our opinions and discuss the narrative. Understandably the group needed a little coaxing at first because we didn’t know what was expected of us, but by the time the story had ended the group were interacting more readily. I found the differing opinions added to the session in as much that I enjoyed listening to other people’s interpretation of the text. The noticeable informality of the session really helped me settle in quickly.

We also read a selection of poems, and this was something I was dreading a little because I’ve never liked reading poetry. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed listening to them; I think this had a lot to do with how the group worked together, it helped me understand them. In the past I had always tried to read poetry on my own and if I didn’t get it straight away I would move on.

Part of the afternoon session was a presentation looking at how Get Into Reading groups have helped many people from diverse backgrounds. I believe this was an important aspect of the day because it showed that people are never too young or too old to get pleasure from reading. I found the sessions have helped me in various ways: the importance of respecting other people’s views and opinions, to delight in the splendour of the written word, but most of all, just to simply enjoy the experience of reading.

The old adage “Time flies by when you are enjoying yourself” rang true – and I am looking forward to the next session with great anticipation.

Find out more about Read to Lead Training here, or contact Mark Till for more information on marktill@thereader.org.uk or 0151 794 2286.

3 thoughts on “Read to Lead in the Alt Valley”

  1. If “Life imitates art far more than Art imitates life…!!!Oscar Wilde Comprehensive arts listing and reviews.

    Okay…..Taking the above as a thought/sentence in itself. What catches you, instantly? The challenge thrown up by’ Life and Art’ experimentally separated through an idea of the kaleidoscope effect? An abritrariness existing only through the laws of symmetry? But look again! ~Wilde mixes the law – Life imitates art….Art imitates life… look through the lense again and try to separate those mixtures Art/life, Life/art. For a moment all becomes fluid – boundaries recede and the laws of symmetry bend to more than the instructions of reflection and light.

    To be taught to read may help here – for to be able to read is as Ruskin argues – ‘to be taught to see is to gain word and thought at once and both true.’ Arguably the most important point of human intersection- where illumination and enlightement meet, where any searching human soul and passionate heart will wish – ‘there were no such words as light or darkness in existence. Still, the main instinct which makes people endure this perpetuity of repetition is a true one; only the main thing they want and ought to ask for is, not light, but Sight. It doesn’t matter how much light you have if you don’t know how to use it.’ (Ruskin, P.95, Oxford World Classics)

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