By Lucy Kline
Written for Senior Life, September, 2006

When we started school back around 5 years old, most of our generation figured to have completed our education in 13 years. College wasn’t necessarily something most considered an important thing (unless you were headed for a profession) back in the 40s. Many dropped out before High School was completed, some having to support families. For those who did go on to college, okay another 4 years or more depending on the field – but then formal education usually came to an end.

Times have changed. Now almost everyone considers some manner of continuing education after High School. Some go for formal education, others take various courses in technical fields, many learn from specialized groups studying a subject, etc. I think it’s safe to say that most of today’s seniors have kept their minds active with some sort of continuing education.

Our community has a lot to offer along those lines. There are those consummate learners who never stop learning. I must point out a very special individual I have met; a man in his 80’s who is not only still attending formal classes at the college level, but also teaching. Ever since graduating from wherever he attended as a young man, he has continued to take courses, often auditing them through the Brevard campus of UCF and his fields of interest are so wide spread that there seems to be no end to the courses he signs up for. While doing this, he is also teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to about 8 different students in private lessons.

So what is the impetus that keeps men and women like this gentleman, constantly attending classes? Certainly he has enough knowledge to last a life time. What does he gain? In speaking with him I get the impression it is done for the joy of learning and the side benefits are keeping him young, keeping his mind active, keeping him constantly dealing with all kinds of people and he just doesn’t contemplate stopping.

Those seniors, who want to stay mentally young and active, have many opportunities. If finance is no problem, the various campuses of Brevard Community College offer courses in many different fields of endeavor. However you don’t have to spend a lot of money to learn. Both the Brevard campus of University of Central Florida and Florida Institute of Technology allow seniors to “audit” courses. That means that you don’t pay tuition and you don’t get credits. If you are attending just for interest, you don’t need credits. There are classes given in different subjects at local libraries, some no cost, some low cost.

The Shepherd’s Center is another organization that offers continuous classes in many subjects, each course running once a week for about 8 weeks. My special favorite, with which I’ve been involved for many years, is Brevard ElderLearning co-sponsored by Brevard Community College and Elderhostel. For those who know about Elderhostel let me say I refer to this as “the poor man’s Elderhostel.” You don’t go away, you attend day programs in the County at various locations and the programs you choose to attend are usually low cost ($6). The new Fall Semester starts in October and programs this year include Alternative Energy for Autos; Big Band Era; How Local Governments Work; India-History/Culture/Music & More; and an out of town trip. For a current brochure, call 636-3484. So keep your mind alert, stay young mentally and consider continuing your education in some manner.




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