Neil's view on the importance of lifelong learning, how he practices those skills and what inspired him to become an adult literacy tutor with Read Write Now.
My introduction to Read Write Now (RWN) happened in 2001 when I got talking to RWN Coordinators and I offered them my skills. Before too long I was tutoring my first student who couldn’t read or write. With lots of hard work he got into TAFE to complete a Certificate I and II course. Another time, I tutored an Indigenous fellow and we got on like a house on fire! Eventually he got a job but he agreed with his employer that he would leave his work at a certain time each week to continue our tutoring sessions. The employer showed me the workshop. Then I used vocabulary and readings that were important for the student to understand such as the equipment and all the different information in his workplace.
While I was Coordinator of the Armadale region I tutored learners suffering from mental health conditions or people recovering from addictions or who lived in sheltered group homes. I would tutor up to three students at different times two days per week.
When tutoring, you learn as much as you are giving to others; it’s a two-way process and I have learnt so many things from different people as everybody is different and unique.
When it comes to RWN students, I always adjust my approach and try to discern what they need the most. I start simple and build them up and always leave people feeling good about themselves. Today, I had my 84th student! That tells us that there are many people who struggle with reading and writing, so no one is alone, however, they are only a phone call away from getting help. RWN tutors are ready to help and can be reached on 1800 018 802.
For me lifelong learning is very important. I practise it through staying fit and active, keeping my brain stimulated through observation and reflection and through reading widely and listening to others. Maintaining social contacts and keeping involved in the community through volunteering are other key factors. Everyone can tell you a story if you are willing to listen and learn. If we all get involved by volunteering then the more we can learn from each other.
Published in the Examiner Newspapers, September, 7th, 2023