Sunday, September 9, 2007

Adult Ed classes get underway today

Classes at Santa Barbara City College’s Continuing Education Division – better known simply as Adult Ed – get underway for the fall session today, and for many area residents it’s the annual return of an opportunity for learning that has become nothing short of an obsession.

“Santa Barbara is unique in how much people love to learn here,” said Sandy Gill, Adult Ed’s new public information specialist. “It’s one of those place where people are really curious. Things like beauty, harmony and balance in life matter to people who choose to live here. And that’s the type of mind that stays curious and always wants to learn something new.”
Hence Adult Ed has courses in all sorts of subject areas, from subjects such as languages and crafts with practical applications to psychology and personal development for more esoteric growth.
Want to learn how to do botanical illustration? Adult Ed has a class. Too much junk cluttering up your computer’s hard disk? Adult Ed can help. Interested in joining the amateur skippers out in the harbor for Wet Wednesdays? Sign up for Adult Ed’s “Basic Keelboat Sailing.” Want to go from “all thumbs” to a green thumb? There are nine courses in landscape design.
In total, there are just shy of 850 classes in the fall catalogue, broken into 21 main subject areas that cover nearly every discipline imaginable, said Gill.
“Whether you learn better through lectures, workshops or hands-on experience; if you only have time for a short course or can attend a full semester; whatever commitment you want to make, whatever subject, whatever preferred mode of learning, we’ve got it,” she said.
A good majority of the classes are free, and those that do have fees – the result of drastic cutbacks in state funding – charge no more than $3 per hour, with few exceptions.
“Some subject areas aren’t state-funded at all, so they have to be self-sustaining,” Gill said. But even those classes are often subsidized by local sponsors, she said.
Thus, environmental courses – a segment that is naturally growing even faster in already nature-minded Santa Barbara than in the rest of the country – has several free classes and optional fees of no more than $35 for any one course, including the new “From the Field to the Plate,” a $20 one-day seminar on November 3 taught at Fairview Gardens Farm aimed at aiding participants to prepare a balanced vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.
“We really try to respond to what the community says,” Gill said. “We listen to what people want. We don’t want you to think that you ever have to give up learning. We want to partner with you on that instead.”
One feedback-related change can be seen in the catalogue itself, which has been downsized from broadsheet to an 8 ? x 11 booklet, with larger type size and fewer columns for easier reading.
Other changes for the new session include an upgrade to the computer facility at the Wake Center, including 24 new iMacs complete with dual processors, the latest Jaguar OSX, 20-inch monitors, 2 gigabytes of RAM memory and 256 megabyte video memory. The Goleta center also has six new classrooms (and new room numbers, so be sure to check the schedule carefully), and has centered all Parent Education classes in room 15.
Organizers are also aware that many people attend Adult Ed classes for reasons beyond brushing up on particular subjects.

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