LEARNING CURVES - FIFTEEN YEARS AND GOING STRONG     by Wendy Terry

originally published in the 2013 Fall Issue

The 2013 fall issue of Learning Curves is our 15th back to school issue and we are congratulating ourselves. If you enjoy reading Learning Curves or find it helpful, please send us a message at learningcurves@hotmail.com. We would love to hear from you. Perhaps, tell us about an article that helped you go back to school.


There are many opportunities for adults to go back to school but these opportunities are often confusing. Our mission is to help adults go back to school by lessening the confusion. Also, we are interested in your learning path as an adult and if we can help you better. If you are a teacher or employment counselor, who uses Learning Curves, let us know how it helps. We will get back to you and will also publish some of your responses in our 2013 winter issue.


If you would like to find a back issue go to www.learningcurves.ca or to find back articles, go to www.learning-curves.org. This 2013 back to school issue is our 83rd issue We started in January 1999 with a four page issue, a 5,000 copy run and 90 sites in Toronto; for the fall 2013 issue we have a twenty pager, a 22,000 run and over 750 sites which span the GTA from Oshawa through Toronto to Oakville and up in York Region. These sites are targeted to where adults, who might be thinking about going back to school, gather, such as employment centres, settlement services, educational programs, libraries, social assistance office and so on.


Learning Curves is published by the Worker’s Educational Association of Canada, a registered charity, founded in Canada in 1918. Before Learning Curves, the WEA ran the Adult Learning Line, from 1985 to 1997, a phone information service, which also did outreach workshops for adults going back to school. To learn about the WEA before this time we recommend Jeff Taylor’s book, Union Learning. To learn about the WEA in other countries, go to www.ifwea.org At one time the WEA ran liberal arts courses all across Canada training and educating in cooperation with universities and trade unions.


In 2003 the WEA founded and has since run University in the Community, UiC, in partnership with colleges at the University of Toronto and social service agencies. UiC is a liberal arts program for those who would otherwise not be able to go to university. UiC just celebrated its tenth anniversary at Innis College on April 24th, 2013.


Learning Curves and UiC run on what I call a “community mission” model—lots of volunteer work and very little money. In fact, this has been true for all WEA projects over its whole 95-year history in Canada. Today for Learning Curves we want to thank our long time editor Anne McDonagh. It is our in-depth, useful, interesting editorial which draws readers. We want to thank Andrew Oliver, our design person who has been with us for well over ten years, first as a George Brown student, He works magic, taking the ads we email, the stories we send and puts them together to form an attractive paper.


For many years Bryan Wright helped us sell ads bringing his professional knowledge of advertising to our volunteer enthusiasm. Today, to pat myself on the back, I sell ads, write articles and deliver Learning Curves recently with the help of Joanne MacKay Bennett, one of readers who asked if she could help. Another reader, Salman Ahmad, suggested the new design for the front page, colour coded swatches for each new term’s issue. The delivery gets done in a timely manner thanks to Mark Bosworth and a bevy of volunteers which include some who have delivered Learning Curves from day one like Susan Stone, Ana Paredes, Paul Willis.


Today our regular writers include, Lisa Trudel, Deborah Noel, Heather Junke, Carter Hammett, Joanne MacKay Bennett, Anne McDonagh, and myself. For the past couple of years Angela Walcott has done our copy editing so there are no more “oh darns” when looking at the published paper.


We owe thanks to Asif of Crescan for our Website; he volunteered to set up www. weacanada.ca which is now updated regularly by Rickie Yang another volunteer. Sarah McDonagh, a CGA, does our bookkeeping as a volunteer, and Rick Terry does our audit. Thank You. Then there is Karen Ferguson, the executive director for WEA from 1990 to 2000, who recently set up our www.learningcurves.org website so readers could access back stories easily and the WEA can now sell ads on this site. Karen was also the first editor for Learning Curves. We want to thank Rod Noel, a past-president of WEA, who suggested the name, Learning Curves. Without the commitment of these people and many other writers, salespersons and delivery volunteers over the years we would not be here today.


Then there are our loyal advertisers without whose financial support nothing would get published. They include all the colleges, universities and school boards and many community groups and career colleges that serve adults going back to school in Toronto and the GTA. As well, thanks to many universities and colleges who serve the Toronto and GTA market through Distance Education. We want to mention Ryerson University specifically as they were our first advertiser in our January 1999 issue and they are still with us in this our 83rd issue. Thank you to all these educational providers who change peoples lives for the better every day by helping adults go back to school. We would finally like to thank Saint Luke's United Church, from whom we rent a small affordable office since 1999 and their supportive staff. Thank you for your support of Learning Curves.


The WEA Board of Directors deserves a vote of thanks for unfailing patience as we constantly juggle meeting dates around publication dates I have often said that Learning Curves has an issue by issue existence. So I won’t say here’s to another 15 years, but here’s to our next issue, the 84th, the 2013 winter issue coming out in November.

Toronto, Canada