You're never too old to learn

Celebrating its 36th year of service, the Simon Fraser University Seniors Program – open to anyone 55 or better – offers 65 intellectually stimulating courses, forums, and outreach programs annually in Vancouver. Over three thousand students attend morning and afternoon classes. Carolyn Maclean has attended over 160 courses since 2000: “I am curious about the world, and wanted to learn more about the many subjects I couldn’t study when I was younger,” she says. The program offers her many answers and insights, with courses spanning everything from Philosophy to Opera Studies:

Manitoba seniors are equally busy. Winnipeg’s Creative Retirement boasts a dynamic mix of theoretical and applied skills courses for learners interested in everything from mastering Adobe Acrobat to making sense of global politics. Barrie Cranston has taken over 40 courses in the program (so far!), with a particular focus on Political Science. “These courses engage the mind and enhance your conversation skills,” he says. “I especially enjoy current events classes because they help me develop a better understanding of our complex and changing society.” The program’s course guide speaks to a breadth of topics mature students want: “A fabulous mix of tried and true and something new.”

Prince Edward Island’s Seniors College in Charlottetown emphasizes intellectually stimulating programs with opportunities to develop new friendships. Verna Bruce started attending courses two years ago. “I wanted to remain active and socially engaged, and I knew that meeting new people would make sure I didn’t become a hermit in retirement,” she recalls. Verna says she’s taken everything from computer courses, photography, Tai Chi and Pilates. The program receives over 600 registrations annually with popular subjects including drawing, painting, jazz appreciation, religious studies, politics, and yoga.

For those living elsewhere in Canada, a brief Internet search reveals many dozens of dynamic programming options at colleges and universities, community centres, libraries, music groups, and seniors centres.

As boomers/zoomers pursue their lifelong learning opportunities, it seems clear that this generation will continue to redefine education. As one program reminds adult learners: “you don’t stop learning when you grow old; you grow old when you stop learning.”

Julian Benedict is the coordinator of the Simon Fraser University Seniors Program and publishes articles regularly on lifelong learning.

Atlanta Sloane-Seale is the Area Director for Continuing Education at the University of Manitoba.

Keywords: seniors, education