When you graduated from high school, college or graduate school, you probably said, “That’s it. I’m done with school!” Hopefully, however, you are still interested in learning. Studies have shown that adults who continue to learn new things increase their cognitive capability and feel more fulfilled psychosocially. The central principle of adult learning is autonomy. In order to get the maximum benefit from the class or material, students are expected to want to learn, and to participate. If you are so inclined, opportunities for lifelong learning are easy to find.
Check with your state Department of Education for local adult schools. You can find classes ranging from foreign languages, to computer programming, to photography. Adult classes are often held on evenings and weekends. In addition to learning a new skill or improving a hobby, you can meet like-minded individuals, or earn a credential in an area of interest.
Community colleges and universities offer classes to older adult learners as well; and some even include travel or on-campus stays. You can call the registrar’s office or look at the course catalog online. Being on a campus again can be energizing!
Online classes are abundant and many are free. Some are very brief lessons, while others last for weeks. Check out the following online adult learning sites:
When choosing a course or lecture, ask yourself the following: What do you want to learn and why? The idea of why is what sets adult education apart from childhood education. Kids have to go to school for a formal set of lessons, to take standardized tests, and to meet someone else’s expectations and demands. Adult learners are there because they want to be. What do
you want to be at this stage of your life? What new skill or information do you need? It’s out there.
“Can Lifelong Learning Help As We Age” by Romeo Vitelli, PhD in Psychology Today, 10/14/12,
available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201210/can-lifelong-learning-help-we-age
“5 Principles for the Teacher of Adults” by Deb Peterson, 7/1/15, available at: http://adulted.about.com/od/teachers/a/teachingadults.htm