October 3, 2009 7:36:00 PM
They say you can''t teach an old dog new tricks. "They," however, are so often wrong. I truly believe we only get smarter with age. Time improves many things; wine, some cheeses, and (in my opinion) brain power.
I started college at age 41 and graduated at 45. Graduation was not only a surprise, but also a bit of a disappointment. Those four years seemed too short and instilled in me a longing to continue learning.
Now, I take classes just for fun. Mississippi University for Women knows there are scores of people just like me. For that reason, their Office of Continuing Education is offering a fascinating series of classes under the heading of "The Senior Scholars Program."
Here is a situation where age actually has advantages. Six-week, non-credit courses are being taught in subjects like scrapbooking, Power Point presentations and genetics. You can take one, or all, for the membership fee of $35. That is, if you are 50 or older.
Elizabeth Simpson, one of our local poets, is offering a class. You may remember her as a star at open mic nights at Mississippi Coffee House last year. Her readings of original work had the audience begging for more. I''ll bet that doesn''t happen often to poets.
"Concepts of God" is the subject of Linda Campany''s class. She will introduce students to the tenets of several different religions, through discussion and guest lecturers. Expect to hear speakers who practice Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Even a follower of the Muslim faith is scheduled. Amazing that she found disciples of such diverse creeds here, in "the buckle of the Bible belt."
Dr. Barbara Moore will lead a discussion of the book, "The Third Chapter," by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. This book addresses "retired" people who embark on risky and exciting adventures after age 50. Do new quests and journeys keep us young? You''ll have to take this class to find out.
Are your closet shelves crammed with shoe boxes, haphazardly stuffed, with jumbled photos and yellowing clippings? Most of us keep precious memorabilia in dreadful conditions. We probably all need the guidance of Pam Bromley. She will demonstrate creative ideas for organizing those ephemera into charming, cohesive, collections.
The teachers are all volunteers, sharing their knowledge. Each semester will bring new instructors and different subjects. (The buzz around campus is that a well-known Columbus publisher will teach a course on raising bees. But, you didn''t hear that from me.)
Classes begin this Tuesday; however, you still have time to enroll. Contact MUW''s office of Continuing Education (662-329-7288) for a complete list of classes and times.
When I was a middle-aged college co-ed, we were called "non-traditional" students. These days, older students are quite a common sight on campus. They bring the depth that comes with experience, and a real desire to learn.
Recently, when I was taking a class at "The W", a young student asked, "Miss Adele, if you already have a degree, why are you in this class?"
The Senior Scholars Program is for people who know the answer to that question. It is for those wise enough to appreciate the joy of learning, for those who are probably not looking for a prom date, and for those who are too smart to keep repeating the same old tricks.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. E-mail reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
Rheada Haynes commented at 10/12/2009 7:57:00 AM:
Sorry I just read last week's article a week late. Several universities offer programs like this. I am familar with the one at Auburn, it is called Osher Life Long Learning Institue or OLLIE for short. They have received various grants to add their development and hosted a conference this past summer on the subject. They can be found on Auburn University website. With budget cuts etc, it as really help them. They offer many courses of study.