So what is this……one of my occasional good ideas, or another sign of continuing brain leakage?
You see, in my world it’s October, or more likely November. It feels like things have cooled off a bit. The world is not as hectic as it used to be. I know for sure that I have slowed down a step or two. An occasional rest break is more welcome these days…….a time to let my thoughts catch up with the craziness that surrounds us. In those quiet moments it is tempting to concentrate on the past, of which I have so much, rather than the future, which is where my hoped-for Becoming must take place.
For many of us late life is a time when something new on the horizon may not excite us the way it once did. That is probably natural. After all, in the course of our lifetime we have reveled in the affirmation of right choices made, and dealt with our share of wrong-roads taken. Still, though we have seen a lot of life along the way, that doesn’t mean we have outgrown the need to keep growing.
You and I have had our share of learning experiences. I recall hearing about the School of Hard Knocks. Some folks say that is the best teacher, though the knocks I remember were pretty soft……which may explain why I didn’t learn more. Beyond that, most of us associate learning with school. That’s what schools are supposed to be for, isn’t it? I learned a thing or two in high school. I’ll bet you did too. Thankfully I outgrew most of that.
And then came life after high school. For me that meant college. For you it might have been something different. But no matter what path we chose the lessons were harder, though by then we were probably more motivated. I know that I had reasons to keep learning. I had met Roma by then. Turned out her grading curve was steeper than I was used to. Falling behind was no longer an option.
But that was then……and this is now. Today, at 82, I am still telling myself that I want to be more tomorrow than I am today. Whatever that means, it implies that we are never to old to stop learning. I want to believe that. Yet how does one keep learning at my age? Well, how about this
Higher education…college and/or university ……was an answer in earlier times. And now, to my surprise, it has returned to play a part in my dotage. Who would have expected that?
Perhaps that has you asking, “Why, at his age, is he babbling about college? Has he really gone round the bend this time?”
But it is not like I started out half-cocked, which has happened a time or two in my 82 years. This time I began by creating some very definite expectations for my return to the ivy-covered halls of higher education. Sure, I hope to keep learning. But why can’t I be fussy about what and how I learn?
Years ago things were different. The wide-eyed adolescent I was in those “off to college” days had lots of things on his mind, not all of which were academic in nature. My first-time venture into the world of higher education was charted by the ‘Teaching Establishment.’ They made the rules. I experienced college on their terms……jumping through their hoops, intent on earning their validation.
Of course it had to be that way. Though we might have argued the point at the time, we were absolute neophytes, unaware of how little we knew and how much we did not know. Given what the ‘Establishment’ had to work with, perhaps the task at hand sometimes called for Kamikazi teaching methods. But no longer! This time the not-so-wide-eyed Geriatric Adolescent I have become is returning to college on his own terms.
How about you? No matter what your age, if today’s college experience met these criteria would you be willing to deal with college, whether again or for the first time?
1) Taking one course at a time, selected from hundreds of candidates.
2) Enrollment is a five-minute process, and absolutely free.
3) No bulky and expensive textbooks are required.
4) Your course will be a quality online experience you can access from your computer and absorb in bite-sized bits any time.
5) There will be no tests or exams required.
6) Your course will be offered by highly qualified faculty from one of dozens of prestigious colleges and universities.
7) Are you a name dropper, the kind who would like a Harvard, MIT, or Paris’ Sorbonne on your resume? Easy peasy. Just log in and go.
Disclaimer - Because I am enrolled in just one of the thousands of course offerings I cannot claim that every one of them is conducted in the same way, with the same degree of professionalism as my Shakespeare Matters course. I can, however, confirm the following about the particular class I am taking.
1) I suppose I was expecting a taping of a lecture -hall class.
2) Not so. Instead I am viewing a thoroughly professional offering of interviews, self-contained video lectures, and graphic arts presentations……. each of them in two to ten minute segments that make it easy to watch 20 or 30 minutes at a time, then come back for more the next day.
3) I simply sign in as I would with any website, click on ‘Next,’ and pick up where I left off.
4) Since I did not sign up for a ‘Verified Certificate,” at a cost of $50, I can skip the periodic tests and quizzes.
Okay, enough explanation. It’s time to see for yourselves what today’s online college looks like. The ‘Open Sesame’ that makes that happen is awaiting your arrival. I won’t claim that it is the only site that can do that. Fact is, however, once I saw what they offer I decided my search had ended.
Once there I hope you will take a moment to scroll through the list of the universities which take part in this online college program. They are first-rate, quality institutions, which are not likely to be associated with shoddy products.
Next, under the heading ‘Popular Subjects,’ select the sort of courses you would like to explore. Since I was not in a math, science, or business mood I chose “Humanities.” What follows next needs no explanation from me. Simply scroll through the dozens of offerings. When you see one that tweaks your interest click on it and check it out.
That was how I came to a course titled Shakespeare Matters. For as long as I can remember I’ve heard people fuss about Shakespeare. But truth to tell I had little idea what the Bard was all about. Perhaps it was time to find out. With that I enrolled in Adelaide University’s Bard101x and was on my way.
Long story short, in a series of short, professional-grade videos a team of highly qualified Shakespeare scholars from Adelaide University in Australia makes the case for why Shakespeare Matters. By the time I finish the course I will have invested ten or twelve hours exploring six of the Bard’s plays……as the instructors explain what each play, and the main characters, has to say, and why centuries later those lessons are still considered important.
Finally, no matter what courses you select, it is hard to imagine a more professional, more diverse, more accommodating, and less expensive late-life learning venue. The possibilities are literally endless. With that in mind I hope you are convinced that it is time to take the plunge……if only to check it out. Simply follow this link to the EDX.org home page and you are on your way.
Once there scroll through the list of universities. Be impressed by the quality of institutions represented. Then move down the page to the ‘Popular Subjects’ heading. A single click on the type of courses that suit your tastes will produce an illustrated roster of class offerings, hundred of them. Odds are that somewhere among them you will find one that interests you. Once you find it, registering to ‘audit the course’ is a quick and simple matter, requiring only an email address and password.
Who knows, in a matter of minutes you may be on your way back to college. Also, this may be one of those posts you want to forward to a ‘still-learning’ friend.