Lifelong Learning

I am sitting in ‘my’ study carrel at the university, the one I’ve been using on and off for thirty-something years.  Today I noticed some new(ish) graffiti on one side: ‘Today is my last day in the library EVER’.

How sad I find this, because it implies to me that the person who wrote it finds learning, books, and study a chore, or worse than that, just something to be endured so that real life can begin.  I’ve come to the library today not to write, as I often do, but to check out books, something I’m allowed to do as an alumna, and these are books I need for my new course.  While learning and books aren’t my whole life by any means, they remain – even thirty years after graduation from university – a hugely important part of it.

I am unbelievably excited about this new course – The Archaeology of Landscape I, offered through the University of Exeter Distance Learning program.  Unlike the two I took last fall and winter, this one wasn’t free, so I had to really think about whether or not I wanted to spend the money (and time) such a course requires.  But it really wasn’t that hard a decision.

And now I’m looking at a pile of seven books to be read for the first three weeks of the course.  They have titles like “Ideas of Landscape” and “Imagined Country:  Society, Culture and Environment”. I can imagine what most of you are thinking!  But for me, this is feeding a deep need.

And that’s what the best learning is about.  Don’t turn your back on it, just because school and university were perhaps not quite what you hoped.  I can remember being less than impressed with some aspects of my graduate program and quite a few of my undergraduate.  High school was worse.  Then I taught, and was less than impressed with some of what the curriculum required.  I did my best to make it relevant and interesting, but it was a hard go sometimes.

But now I am (again, as I did last fall) learning for the love of it, learning things that will change forever the way I see my world.  Someone (maybe George Bernard Shaw?) said once that education is wasted on the young. I don’t agree with that, but it is certainly not the sole province of the young.  My father was telling me of new things he’d learned through reading and documentaries to within a few weeks of his death at 98.  I hope, very much, to emulate him.

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