|Titles Isaac owned, Credit: Lyn Fenwick|
The life-long passion for learning continues for many people even today. Next week I begin my virtual Osher Class through the Lifelong Learning Institute at Kansas University, a part of KU's Professional & Continuing Education. KU and other universities across the nation offer a diverse collection of courses to participants age 50 and older, although all ages can join. Those teaching the classes are chosen from having "the academic qualifications, a passion for the topic, and a love of teaching." Most classes are a single meeting, but the classes may be three separate gatherings. With Covid limitations, the current classes at KU are virtual. I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the rise and fall of the People's Party in three classes, beginning next week. My research for "Prairie Bachelor" included far more information than appears in the book, and I am excited to share that history. Obviously, I meet the requirement for "a passion for the topic."
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes were begun by Bernard Osher, who envisioned noncredit courses with no assignments or grades for adults over the age of 50. Grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation make his vision come true at over 120 universities and colleges throughout the nation.
The life-long passion for learning is recognized by other opportunities for seniors, and among those is the not-for-profit Road Scholar travel program. Road Scholar offers, according to their web site, "5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and all 50 states, serving more than 100,000 participants per year." This may not reflect their scheduled adventures during Covid, but their purpose is to provide opportunities to experience the world "by meeting new people, touching history where it happened and delving deep into the cultures and landscape we explore."
Education for seniors happens across the nation. There are many Americans who choose to go back to school after they retire. NBC news reported that students over the age of 35 made up 17% of all college and graduate students in 2009, with an expectation that the number would rise. Certainly their survey was not confined to seniors, but retirees make the decision for many reasons, including those who failed to complete their degrees and do so in retirement.
Community and state colleges are also recognizing the desire for continuing learning, with tuition waivers for those over 60 at some schools, while others offer the opportunity to audit classes without paying, and although they gain no credit, they do gain knowledge.
Our own community has Club 62+ Senior Program for senior citizens in the service area of Pratt, Kiowa, Barber, Kingman, Harper, Comanche and Stafford counties. Among the offerings at Pratt Community College are "casino trips, special speakers, and murder mysteries." You need to check with the College regarding their current schedule.
Among the benefits of continued education are Social Connections, Cognitive Improvement, and Skill Enhancement. Isaac Werner knew all of that. Not only was he passionate about reading, he was also involved in his local community in various organizations, and he traveled to St. John, Pratt, and Stafford to attend lectures and other programs. Life-long learning is nothing new!