MAKE YOUR LIFE ABOUT LEARNING
By Terry D. Portis, Ed.D.
In writing an opinion piece about learning, a gentleman in his 50s announced his time for learning was over – he was done with it. In his view, he had finally “arrived,” his accumulated knowledge and wisdom were at their zenith. When I read this, I was not sure whether to mock him or feel sorry for him. The evidence at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) suggests that this “I have arrived” gentleman is in a minority. AACC has several vibrant communities of people over 50 who are not only learning, but they love it and make it an important part of their lives.
Learning Focused on Adults over the age of 50
AACC founded the Center on Aging in 2007 to serve people over the age of 50. Today, the Center on Aging and LifeStages serve more than 4,000 people and offer more than 1,300 course sections per year. We have heard from more than one person who decided to retire, but stay in the area so they could be part of this kind of educational opportunity.
Find your place in one of four programs
AACC began the LifeStages program in 2008 to address issues such as working, family life and other changes and challenges people begin to face as they hit midlife and beyond. Many people over the age of 50 find themselves needing to switch careers, learn how to take care of elderly parents or figure out how to stay healthy and vital as long as possible.
The college’s seniors program takes place at eight locations across the county. AACC’s partnership with the Department on Aging and Disabilities makes this successful program large and successful. For a $40 fee, adults over the age of 60 can take as many classes as they wish at the area senior centers. Most people average two classes per quarter. Classes range from healthy living to history to developing your artistic skills.
One of AACC’s learning communities is the Peer Learning Partnership (PLP). The PLP has about 200 members and is a self-directed learning community. Members may volunteer to teach courses to the other members or participate in other ways. In addition to the regular courses, members meet each Friday to discuss issues such as technology, travel, books and current events.
The Guild for Life is a program that includes lectures and local travel. Guild participants learn about a topic or event in a classroom setting and then travel to a related location to experience what they have learned about.
Life is Not Over at 50
A billboard in Florida for a retirement community states: “The life you have been waiting your whole life for.” I am not sure I like the idea that you cannot have the kind of life you want until you retire. However, I do think that life over 50 can be full of new discoveries and interests, and the Center of Aging staff can help you do that at AACC. People can live vibrant, active and meaningful lives their entire lives, not just for the first half of it. Keeping minds active through learning plays a critical role.
– Terry D. Portis, Ed.D., is the director of the Center on Aging in the AACC School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where he oversees open enrollment for baby boomers who are retooling and looking for guidance, training, resources and career pathways to new job or volunteer opportunities. The Center on Aging is an access point for new and existing programs for people at least 50 years old, many of whom do not plan to retire at the traditional age of 62 or 65 but will continue to redefine how they approach their future. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Center on Aging: www.aacc.edu/aging
Seniors Education: www.aacc.edu/seniors
Peer Learning Partnership: www.aacc.edu/plp
The Guild for Life: www.aacc.edu/guild