We all remember the old joke about the little boy, asked by his mom what he learned in his first day at school. Not enough I guess, is the reply, I have to go back again tomorrow.
As an extension to that light-hearted perspective on when learning should start – or when you’ve had enough – Adult Learning Week is showing people it should be a lifelong endeavour.
Nova Scotia Adult Learners’ Week is April 6-14, with events throughout the province during that span involving many learning and literacy organizations, libraries and other educational institutions, such as museums.
It’s a grand initiative. We quite rightly focus on adult learning to counter any perceived deficit – helping someone with literacy troubles, for example, or encouraging someone who struggled with studies during their youth to continue their education. But it’s a pursuit full of benefits for every individual and in all aspects of life – at work, at home and in social activities.
We’re reminded time after time that we are part of a rapidly aging society, that seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of the population. How often we see articles, or columns by doctors promoting activities that keep the mind active – and purportedly might slow down the onset of dementia. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku: they’re great, but consider what else is available – through community organizations or enrichment classes or seminars offered by colleges or libraries.
Plenty is available, but part of the idea of such a celebration is to promote more opportunities.
Again, back to our aging population, Nova Scotia is at a crossroads with its formal school system, with a surplus of space next to declining enrolment.
Among initiatives discussed in this regard is turning schools into community hubs, to make greater use of the space, thereby helping avoid school closures. Schools are by definition learning centres and offer the perfect setting to get out and mingle, and stay sharp.