By Elijah McGuire-Berk
Elm Staff Writer
The Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning, or WC-ALL, is an opportunity for adults who wish to learn new things. Vice-chair of WC-ALL Betty Spence said, “Our constituency is not the undergraduate [students], but those adults who wish to continue learning and seek intellectual stimulation without the requirements for academic credit.” WC-ALL has been providing these kinds of classes since 1992.
Each fall and spring semester, WC-ALL offers classes once a week for two separate four to six week periods. Also included are various trips to locations and up to six “Learn-at-Lunches” with guest speakers included. Volunteers run the organization as instructors and administrators. However, instructors receive an honorarium for their services. WC-ALL’s financial support comes from donations and membership fees, which range from $30 to $195. Excess funds are allocated to WC student scholarships.
Classes cover a wide variety of topics including Antebellum Maryland, The Panama Canal, bird watching, astronomy, and films by Alfred Hitchcock. There is also a variety of class types such as lecture and discussion, moderated discussion, film, and demonstration.
One of the classes currently in session is “Vital Ideas: Crime,” taught by Dick Hawkins, an engineer, and Jane Aukill, an academic librarian. This is a discussion-based class about the book “Vital Ideas: Crime,” a collection of short stories concerning crime. Class discussions include both fictional trials and real life ones such as the trial of Oscar Wilde. According to Hawkins, it’s a good environment for the students. They “get to express ideas in a setting where people will politely challenge or support them.” He said the students are “usually lively people[and] well-versed in general societal items and discuss them well.”
The structure of the class involves reading two of the short stories each week and then discussing them in class. The questions are from the book and made up by Hawkins and Aukill.
This wasn’t the only class they have done for WC-ALL. According to Aukill, she and Hawkins have previously taught classes on “public policy, money, science, sex, and the book ‘7 Deadly Sins and 7 Deadlier Sins.’”
Another one of the classes currently in session is called “Furniture – History, Style, Construction and Value.” Taught by Dick Swanson, a furniture maker, it’s a fine arts lecture and discussion-based class dedicated to the history of furniture and the various styles it has taken throughout the years. The class is described as “the origin and history of domestic furniture,” by the course catalog. It also covers various furniture styles, how they were made, and why different pieces are more expensive than others.
WC-ALL caters to older local individuals who wish to learn new things. They do not count for academic credit. For those wishing to learn more about the program, the WC-ALL office is located in office 5 in the basement of Smith Hall and is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
They can also be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 410-778-7221. More information can be found on their website at washcoll.edu/offices/wc-all.