Limerick Learning Hub paves the way with unconventional teaching

LIMERICK Learning Hub is paving the way for education with its unconventional teaching.

Located in Kileely, a short ten-minute drive from the city centre and a stone’s throw from Thomand Park, the Hub provides a safe environment for children in Limerick to learn, grow and feel accepted.

Working in partnership with local schools, parents, statutory agencies and the wider Limerick Community, it caters to over 150 students each week.

A number of educational and learning practices are used at the Hub to encourage the children to reach their full potential and to bring diversity, practicality, and reality into their education.

The Hub is compiled of different projects or sub-hubs and is run by a team of specialised co-ordinators. These sub-hubs include science, art, music, engineering, and technology as well as a variety of different classes dedicated to health and fitness.

The Hub which facilitates classes for local primary and secondary schools around the area also delivers after-school classes and a homework club.

Furthermore, the Limerick Learning Hub works off an all-inclusive approach that welcomes children from all areas of Limerick City, in the hopes of providing a practical and hands-on experience that they may be lacking through other resources.

While the Hub does prioritise students from local DÉIS schools, 40% of enrolments are reserved for students from non-DÉIS schools.

Along with providing a supportive, inclusive and educational space for its community, the staff of the Limerick Learning Hub also commit to taking on a number of third-level education placement students and up to five TUS scheme workers each year.

Students who attend classes at The Hub are exposed to a type of teaching seldom taught at mainstream institutions.

Children are educated about the importance of sustainable living, for example, growing their own food, as well as the importance of physical activity through classes such as kickboxing.

The students are introduced to topics at an advanced level in preparation for secondary school education. The centre believes if their mentors are qualified enough, teaching students advanced material in an age-appropriate manner shouldn’t be an issue.

 Coordinator of the Science Hub, Roseanna Shanahan explains how her science class works.

“The whole idea of my science class is that we make science fun and introduce the children to science they wouldn’t generally be exposed to at that younger age.

They do stuff here at ten years old that they otherwise wouldn’t get to do until they’re 14 or 15. It gives the children that come here that bit of an advantage when it comes to them going to secondary school.”

Unlike a lot of other institutions whereby students are taught according to a predetermined curriculum, the Learning Hub encourages students to navigate their own learning.

Apples that students grew and collected for juicing.

Coordinator of the Art and Technology Hubs, Cronan Grey believes in allowing children the freedom to come up with their own ideas for projects and encourages them to express and create.

“The kids drive the ideas behind the projects. I facilitate more of the techniques and leave the art open to many kinds of varieties of practice. From traditional drawing, right through to concept design, comic design and character drawing. Whatever the kids are into, we try to structure the programmes that way.”

Roseanna adds that the Hub’s willingness to be flexible when it comes to new ideas and projects is extremely important to them, however the struggle to source enough funding to run projects can be an issue.

“There’s a lot of creativity here. If we’ve got a good idea for something, we can generally run with it given that we have the funding. Funding is something we’re always looking for. It is perhaps one of the main difficulties of the job – making sure there is funding.”

As Limerick’s Learning Hub’s main source of funding comes from different businesses and institutions, planning can be near to impossible as long-term funding is never definite.

Cronan explains that without funding, the Hub cannot exist.

“We receive funding from different government agencies based on grant submissions. We are partly funded by private industries. Without either of these we would find it difficult to keep the doors open.”

Ensuring funding is supplied from companies around Limerick that follow a similar ethos to that of the Hub is vital, as the centre prides itself on being a positive and progressive identity on every level. Private companies that support the Learning Hub and the youth of Limerick City are highly appreciated and credited by the Hub.

While funding is one issue the Limerick Learning Hub faces, it does not allow it to dictate the standard of the facility or its training. With its large outdoor art space and science lab, along with a state-of-the-art recording studio; students who enrol at the Limerick Learning Hub receive advanced learning in exceptional facilities on a personal level.

Without continuous support from companies and institutions around the Limerick area, the Learning Hub would not be able to continue in its quest to support the youth of Limerick City and guide children from the area towards a positive and healthy lifestyle.

Staff at the Learning Hub encourage local companies to get involved and support the centre so they can continue to educate the future adults of Limerick City.

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