Lifelong Learning

While homeschooling my horizons have been opened to the concept of lifelong learning, as a great way to feel vital and enjoy life in all of its stages. Adults hear about adding skills to enhance their job opportunities but what about learning to increase your enjoyment of life? My adult children, after growing up as homeschoolers, still show a strong desire to learn and develop new skills. I believe this is due to growing up with the idea that gaining knowledge is an integral part of life which has no specific beginning or end. Contrast this feeling to a young adult you may know, who cannot wait to graduate from high school and probably views their education as something to be endured. We owe our children and ourselves the chance to enjoy learning and the knowledge that it can bring lifelong benefits to us individually and society.

A recent article citing Francine Toder, a clinical psychologist, gave support to the idea that learning is definitely something to be pursued throughout life. She stated that current neuroscience discoveries confirm that a brain fed a steady diet of complexity, newness and problem solving can develop throughout life.  What was very interesting is that natural changes in brain and hormonal functioning beyond age 60 actually seem to facilitate the mastery of fine arts that can often elude younger people. In younger brains bilaterality is exhibited and the two hemispheres of the brain are busy working separately with the left side boosting the right. Starting in midlife the hemispheres are more entwined and balance is restored. Differences in lifestyles attribute to this factor but Ms. Toder says it is more than this alone. Older people draw on life experiences and exhibit more patience and tolerance as they learn. More than ever people in their 50s and 60s are acquring second degrees and not just as a pasttimes but with a desire to learn and use this knowledge.

This affirmation of what I already felt to be true gives renewed vigor to my desire to never stop learning or encouraging others to do so as well. Its nice to find out that age is our ally in learning. To learn more about this subject I suggest two books:

How Children Fail by John Holt; he was always an advocate of lifelong learning.

The Vintage Years:  Finding Your Inner Artist (Writer, Musician, Visual Artist) After Sixty by Francine Toder




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