On Learning Something New

learningGiven the current lines of communication in the world today, both the opportunities for and the need for learning are ever increasing. No matter if for professional or personal life, learning in today’s world is more important than ever; and learning’s role will continue to increase in the days ahead.

I completed my first class through the Osher Learning Institute, a series of offerings mentioned in a previous post. I enrolled in a certain class because of the importance I placed on a topic to better understand today’s world. I admittedly didn’t know much about the topic, besides, what I do know or think I know, is probably laced with misconceptions. It seems to me that timeliness, relevance, importance, and a lack of knowledge are good reasons to seek learning.

Mentioning this class initiates interesting responses. No matter if its family or friends, most of the time I get reactions of puzzled looks, confusion, amazement, and at times even immediate sharp, negative responses. Some intentionally put me on notice to immediately defend my decision. There’s no question in my mind that biases, misconceptions, and a lack of knowledge dominate their knowledge base.

The students in the class asked questions. Although some are very good questions, many (if not most) were based on the same misconceptions possessed by my family, friends, and even myself. Interesingly, the questions is yesterday’s final class demonstrated a different tone and a sense of learning.

Not everyone I mentioned the class to has been negative as both my pastors and my wife have been the most supportive and understanding. Actually I could add encouragement from the pastors.

By the way, the name of the class An Introductory to Islam: Beliefs and Practices.

Image from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

On Learning Never Stops

Whenever someone asks me if I would like to return to a younger age, my response is the same; “To be that stupid again? No thanks.” Abraham Lincoln said it best.

I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

There’s no question that learning is a lifelong event. As a matter of fact, one could say that learning is a major lifelong event. No matter one’s age or their stage of life, learning happens every day.

A friend told me that he enrolled in enrichment classes at the University of Cincinnati. Of course I was thinking it was a deal for retirees to take credit classes for noncredit, but that was wrong.

The Bernard Osher Foundation supports 119 institutions across the country offering the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes to people age 50 and older. At UC, over 70 noncredit classes.

Now here’s the stunner. The classes meet for about 90 minutes, once a week for about 8 weeks for the mere cost of $75. Oh no, not per class, the $75 registration fee covers all classes. (The UC catalog states that most people take 3 classes.)

So to my readers over 50, see if there is an Osher Learning Institute near you. For all others, pass the information to your family and friends over 50.  Keeping the mind active is good for everyone, and there’s always more to learn about any topic of interest.