“There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
T.H. White, The Once and Future King
This month is part three of a six part series about life and work after age sixty. This series is for those who want to create a thoughtfully crafted future that is best described as a portfolio life.
The five elements of a portfolio life include 1) working in the form you want, 2) learning and self-development, 3) giving back, 4) healthy living, and 5) enjoying personal pursuits and leisure.
In this month’s blog I will be describing the second element of a portfolio life, learning and self-development. Along with offering numerous learning and self-development options after age 60, I will be suggesting you read a March 15th article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper about a 67 year old student’s return to the University of Minnesota.
I will also share a friend’s story about the many benefits of participating in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program. This month’s blog title “Curiosity Never Retires” comes from that adult learning program.
In our 60s, many of the learning and self-development elements of a portfolio life might still have a professional focus. Most of us are familiar with the resources available to help us stay current in our professional life. Staying current and connected in our field is usually a good idea, especially if we hope to stay professionally engaged and employable after age 60.
When the time is right, however, you may prefer to do and learn things altogether different from what has been your professional focus. Consider these programs and resources: universities, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), online learning, podcasts, CDs, books, TED talks, the One Day University, community education, physical, personal, spiritual and financial education, and development resources.
Don’t forget libraries, and take a look at one of my personal travel + learning favorites, Road Scholar. Google any of the above, and discover what is available in your community, on line, and beyond.
In the Twin Cities consider lifelong learning options at The University of Minnesota and other local colleges, Learning Life at the U of M, and the Selim Center at the University of St. Thomas. Education is often free or deeply discounted for seniors 62 and older when attending college level classes.
One day, when your professional world narrows and the rest of your life broadens, why not think of yourself as a liberal arts college freshman, but without the need for a professionally focused major or course load?
Google this article in the March 15th Minneapolis Star Tribune: “More than 500 retirees taking classes at University of Minnesota — but not to earn a degree.” You’ll find an excellent article describing how one 67 year old, and more than 500 retirees, are taking classes at the University of Minnesota, but not to earn a degree. They are attending the University’s Senior Citizen Education Program. Read that article, and give some thought to a university class that could be a great experiment for you.
Janet’s OLLI Story
Two years ago I facilitated an eight month class at my church entitled, “Will a Portfolio Life Become Your Second Half Story?” There were eleven participants in this class, with an average age in the mid-60s. One class member totally lit up when describing her learning and self-development experiences in recent years. Here is her story.
Janet had a liberal arts undergraduate degree, with two master’s degrees. Her career incorporated work in public transportation, public health, teaching, and raising two children.
Janet was a frequent volunteer in schools, church, politics, and her community. She retired in 2014 after over 20 years in public health.
Janet’s Catalyst for Change
“About 6 months before my retirement, a female friend at church said, “Check out OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) when you retire. You’ll love it!”
Janet joined OLLI and discovered that it:
Was inexpensive – one registration of approximately $250 covered multiple courses for 26 weeks of the year.
Had wide ranging programs including art, history, science, sociology, travel, music, literature, theater, and so much more.
Was convenient, with most classes during mid-day hours and at various locations throughout Twin Cities area.
Had knowledgeable course instructors/facilitators.
Offered an opportunity to meet other interesting class participants with similar interests.
Involved no tests and rarely any “homework.”
Janet also discovered many other learning options in the Twin Cities area, such as book groups at libraries, other library discussion groups on various topics – history, current events, etc., Westminster town forums, community education catalogs from school districts, and community activity listings from municipalities.
Janet has starting painting and knitting since retirement, something she hadn’t anticipated.
Reflections, and Lessons Learned
“These learning opportunities are easy to find, easy to try, and easy to discontinue if they don’t fit for some reason.
The public library system is amazing in what it offers at no cost.”
I hope the combination of the learning and self-development resource listings, Star Tribune article, and Janet’s story will motivate and guide you to craft new experiments.
I also encourage you to shift some of your personal connections to people like Janet who will guide and embolden you, as she did each of us in the church class I referenced.
Enjoy the road ahead. Keep broadening and deepening your knowledge and your life, and never let your curiosity retire.