Saturday, August 20, 2016

A good group

In about a week, we will resume activities with our local "learning in retirement" group.  It uses the name L.I.F.E. from the phrase "Learning Is ForEver".  Personally, I prefer using some other word than "learning" to convey the nature of the activity.  There are three types of activities actually.  We have social and organizational meetings where we just get to know each other and business meetings and curriculum meetings, which are the organizational heart of LIFE.  The most frequent and fundamental activity is a presentation by someone, commonly a local expert, professor or official on a subject of interest.  

These presentations or lectures are arranged by members of the curriculum committee during the university semester prior to the actual dates of presentation.  We usually arrange about 80 of them for various days between late August and mid-December or mid-January to early June.  Given a period of about 120 days, that means we usually have a presentation of some sort two days out of three.

We don't pay the presenters but we often find that people enjoyed giving a talk to our group.  Attendance is scheduled before the series of classes begins in a kind of college registration online or thru the mail.  We have about 25 of 400 members at most presentations.  The audience knows the topic and has read 1 or 2 sentences describing the intent of the talk before registering for it.  Many of the attendees are retired faculty or college administrators but we have many other backgrounds represented, too.

Those attending are a good group and experienced thinkers and questioners.  Most presenters are comfortable taking questions at any time during the talk and this group uses the option.  Although a young person might look at the gray and white heads and assume a somewhat inert selection of minds, it only takes a few minutes before the room is humming with questions.  We have had presenters explain that they are not used to lively and attentive questioning.  When they teach college students, a much younger group, they are not facing an audience with the background and genuine interest and experience of life that our group provides.  

There are groups like L.I.F.E. associated with many colleges and universities throughout the US, Canada and Europe.  They are often referred to as "learning in retirement" or Third Age groups.  No matter what you have studied or how you have spent your life, there are dozens of other paths you might have taken.  It can be fun to see what other jobs and pathways are like.

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