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Learner story archives

June 8, 2009

Jack MacNab

This week, we have a story written by Jack MacNab, from Truro, Nova Scotia. Jack is enrolled in literacy classes with the Colchester Adult Learning Association (CALA).  He won an Honourable mention from Literacy Nova Scotia for the Adult Learners' Week Contest that took place throughout Nova Scotia from March 2 - 9, 2009. One of Jack's hobbies is finding out about local history; he is in the process of writing a book about « Old maps and Truro's past ».

The Power of Adult Learning

by Jack MacNab

I would like for you to come back with me to the fall of 2007. It was my first day in school at Colchester Adult Learning Association (Cala). What I did that day was to take one of the biggest steps of my life. At 57 years of age, here I was face to face with my teacher. Looking around at my fellow students, I felt that my self esteem was at its lowest point. As the days moved forward I began to see a new person developing inside of me, a new awareness that I had value, value to share with others. At the time my goal was to become a good writer in the field of poetry, short historical stories, and news columns.

One day we were invited to read poems and stories to a group of teachers and other invited guests. Before reading my poem, I had mentioned to the lady who represented the Department of Labour and Work Force Development that I felt like I was standing at the bottom of a huge intimidating mountain. She turned to me and said: "No, Jack, you are now standing on top." The reason why I felt that way is due to the fact that I had failed grade four. Later I was removed from grade seven and placed in an extra help class. Eventually, I attained the equivalent of grade nine. Following that I went to a vocational school to learn bricklaying, but found the math classes too hard, so I dropped out.

A few years later I was accepted into the Nova Scotia College of Art. Due to personal reasons at the time, I regretfully declined. My last try in a vocational school was to become an upholsterer. With pleasure I received my trade certificate at the end of the year.

As the months rolled along in Cala class, I started to bring together writings that I had always wanted to master. I was able to put the finishing touches on a history book that I had been working on for years. Also, a poem book that I was working on was completed. To my good pleasure both books are now on the shelves at the Colchester East-Hants Regional Library. During a summer computer school program at Cala with two fellow students, we learned many computer skills and were able to produce a short digital video of Truro's Victoria Park. Also, I was taught how to work a digital camera. I am pleased to mention that a variety of my photos are on display in a couple of Cafes for year round viewing.

Well, here we are into my second year in class, and I have had several short historical photo stories placed in our local newspaper. Also, I am from time to time invited to sit in on writer circles to share ideas and the reading of poems.

As I am writing this essay, I should mention that I am also publishing a book about our town called Old Maps & Truro Past. The response to my writing this book has been overwhelming. The people at the Truro Colchester Historical Society Museum and Archives are very excited. There has been suggestion that I should consider becoming a member of the new historical committee that is being formed at the archives.

In sum, I would have to say there is more power in adult learning than what I had ever anticipated. I am now on a new road in life; my self esteem has been elevated to whole new level of awareness. I am now truly reaching the threshold of my dreams. I have climbed that big mountain and I am standing on top looking out over the land of higher learning.

[This story was taken with permission, from Living and Learning for a Viable Future: The Power of Adult Learning, a collection of stories submitted to Literacy Nova Scotia for the Adult Learners' Week Contest in March 2009.]

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