Did you know that reading a personal interest magazine, attending a book club or garden show, and participating in a special interest class are all examples of lifelong learning? It may not seem as if your copy of National Geographic could be considered a tool for learning; however, an article focusing on animal conservation may just inspire you to contact your local zoo to find out how you can help.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, 73 percent of adults believe they are lifelong learners. Personal learners, those who participate in activities relating to a personal interest, make up 74 percent of adults, and professional learners, those who have received professional training or taken a course to improve job skills, make up 63 percent of workers or 36 percent of all adults.*
In an attempt to serve adults in Southwest Florida, Hodges University’s Frances Pew Hayes Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) provides adult learners with a wide variety of lifelong learning classes throughout the year.
Established in 1996 as the first lifelong learning program in Collier County, the CLL is member-directed and multigenerational, enabling participants to experience diverse, collaborative, life-enhancing, intellectual and social activities.
Providing a welcoming environment to its guests, the CLL serves as a location for members of the community to gather socially, establishing connections and relationships with those who share a similar passion or interest.
In the New York Times article. “Older Students Learn for the Sake of Learning,” author Harriet Edleson explains that “adult education programs have been a mainstay through local school districts, libraries, recreation departments and senior centers, but lifelong learning programs position themselves as communities where the participants not only take on challenging subjects but also seek to engage more deeply with their fellow students.”**
“We are fortunate that those who attend our lectures stay afterward to interact and converse with each other. We do not want our guests to feel as if they are there solely to attend the lecture then leave. Our program is set up to invite and encourage conversations and connections,” said Barbara Hawkes, director of Hodges’ Center for Lifelong Learning.
By participating in lifelong learning opportunities, professionals and retirees are able to strengthen their minds and engage with others in a welcoming environment. Below are four benefits to participating in lifelong learning opportunities:
- Becoming mentally engaged. Oftentimes, the older you get, the more forgetful you become. Participating in lifelong learning opportunities can help keep your mind sharp and open to learning new information.
- Establishing a social network. By attending classes with others who share a similar interest, you can build your social network and create lasting relationships with those in your community. The benefit of strengthening and broadening your network of peers is beneficial to working professionals and retirees. In Edleson’s article, she adds, “Medical research has shown that as people age, intellectual stimulation and social interaction promote healthy minds.”
- Visiting interesting places within the community through field trips. Field trips allow lifelong learners an opportunity to leave the classroom and step into a different type of learning environment. Whether it is a national park, company headquarters or public broadcasting station, field trips provide participants with a new look on learning. During the summer 2016 session, interested participants are invited to attend field trips to WGCU, Arthrex and Algenol.
- Volunteering within the community. As a lifelong learner, volunteering is an important part of the learning process. Volunteering allows you to not only meet new people, but it provides a sense of responsibility and feeling of pride. By becoming a volunteer within your community, you are giving back and inspiring others.
“Our members remark how our program provides a ‘family feeling.’ They are comfortable in the environment we provide and are able to visit with friends and meet new people,” said Hawkes.
In summer 2016, the CLL will provide a variety of classes for members and the community. Partnering with The Carlisle Naples, Terracina Grand, Arbor Trace, Sandalwood Village and The Terraces at Bonita Springs, interested individuals will have the opportunity to attend classes at any or all of these locations. In addition, the CLL collaborates with the Hodges’ Hispanic Institute and the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Competency to provide interesting lectures throughout the year.
“I am a member of the [CLL] advisory board for the Hodges University Center for Lifelong Learning. The classes can be quite interesting and educational. My wife and I have enjoyed several in the last three months,” said Tom Falciglia.
Some of the courses offered during the summer session include:
- Healthy Habits: A Jumpstart to Healthy Living
- Facebook and Twitter’s Influence on the Way People “Like” to Communicate
- Something Wonderful: The Musical Collaboration of Rodgers & Hammerstein
- Where Panthers Prowl
To become a member of the CLL, you may purchase an annual membership of $250 per person. You may also apply for membership in the summer session for $125 per person. For those who do not wish to obtain a membership, individual classes are $25 each. Additional costs may apply if participating in the CLL field trips.
*Horrigan, John B. “Lifelong Learning and Technology.” Pew Research Center. March 22, 2016. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/03/22/lifelong-learning-and-technology/
**Edleson, Harriet. “Older Students Learn for the Sake of Learning.” New York Times. Jan. 1, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/02/your-money/older-students-learn-for-the-sake-of-learning.html?_r=1