July 30, 2013 10:04:12 AM
Henry Ford, one of the great pioneers of the Industrial Age, once said, "anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young."
At the time, Ford's comment was made merely as an observation, yet in the 100 or so years that have passed, science has consistently supported his claim.
In fact, recent studies have shown that people who stay curious about the world around them and actively engage their minds to learn new things are almost three times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's than those who are content in their deliberate ignorance. Research indicates the benefits are not limited to mental health, but can improve a variety of physical conditions. Beyond that, life-long learners are better off economically and socially and generally feel better about themselves.
Since 2009, Mississippi University for Women has provided the community with a wonderful resource to pursue the goal of being a life-long learner through its Life Enrichment Program (LEP).
During that period, the LEP has offered 231 courses, all taught by volunteers from the community who are experts in their field.
The program, which is updated with new offerings for each of the six-week sessions, appeals to a wide range of interests -- everything from health (5 Weeks To 5K, Beginning Yoga) to arts and crafts (Drawing Made Easy, Not Your Mama's Quilt-Making Class) to literature/language (Shakespeare, Latin) to hobbies (Dulcimer, Beginner Bridge, Crochet) to culinary (Cooking Technique, Wine-tasting) to job skills (Resume' Writing, Microsoft). That's just a partial list. For a complete list of courses and the class schedule, go to www.muw.edu/lep.
The first of two fall terms begins Aug. 12, featuring 15 courses. The second term will feature 24 courses.
At just $35, participants can take as many as five classes, which are held once a week and are held on The MUW campus from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Although almost 1,500 people have taken classes since the LEP began in 2009, the program remains a hidden gem.
Given the range of topics and the nominal cost, it is difficult to understand why more people haven't jumped at the opportunity to learn. Certainly, the classes are far more edifying than any of the nonsense that seems to hold us captive on TV for hours each week.
So turn off the tube, head to The W and learn something.
It won't kill ya.
In fact, it will enhance and possibly prolong your life.