Lifelong learning as a family affair

Talking to people about “lifelong learning,” without ever providing real-life examples, has been something I’m often guilty of. Sure, lifelong learning describes how individuals continue developing personally and socially, but what actions would specifically count as lifelong learning?

Even better, how would others recognize you are involved in lifelong learning and participate with you?

A promising response and real example on behalf of lifelong learning come from Northeastern University’s president, Joseph E. Aoun, when he announced that through their “Lifetime Learning Membership,” parents and siblings can also go to college at a 25% discount (John O’Neill; news@Northeastern).

What is so inspiring for other colleges to consider is that President Aoun announced this at their university’s parent-and-family weekend, stated that “learning is a lifelong endeavor,” and matched his words-with-deeds by introducing this innovative, “first-of-its-kind,” lifelong learning program.

Lifelong learning-in-action may naturally exist outside the campuses of colleges and universities, yet this ground-breaking effort may provide another real way to do lifelong learning, not simply as an individual matter, but as a family affair.

Late Bloomers: A great thing for adult learners

No longer should being a “late bloomer” feel like a back-handed comment, or receiving an unflattering pat-on-the-back. But alas, now you’re a productive person after supposedly wasting years, even decades, in unproductive idleness. Some in society may see late bloomers as those who finally made good on their wasted potential:

They got it wrong; for the times are a-changin’.

For example, CBS News Sunday Morning recently aired a segment on late bloomers (beautifully done by Susan Spencer) that took the gardening and flowering analogy (associated with the term) and re-planted late bloomers as a great thing, a natural occurrence, even an American event worthy for all ages to respect and appreciate.

Stories of people becoming a huge success later in life (40, 50, 60 and older) are countless to name, some are widely celebrated.  Yet there is something about what the author Katz wisely-witted, “old age comes at a bad time,” which may reveal the actual fear about blooming late: losing life and dying without ever leaving something significant.

Surprisingly, what makes being a late-bloomer great is not measured by time, age, or level of success.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The flower analogy can mislead us in thinking that late is bad, when early-blooming could be as equally worse. A more accurate assessment sees the celebration, the simply joy in itself, in a lifetime of learning that a flower blooms!

In this way, we understand the analogy for a new time and a new season. As lifelong learners, we are all flowers, budding, blooming, continually blossoming as our learning grows whenever and however:

So happy season.

How realistic is #leanintogether?

Facebook COO, SHow Men Can Succeed in the boardroom and the Bedroom on the New York Times and #leanintogether is generating buzz online these days. This movement has began educating society by offering “tips” on how men can work toward gender equality at home as fathers and at work as employees and managers. As a SAHM and a feminist academic, I remain skeptical about how this can be translated into action in workplaces and homes across America and around the world. While I applaud the movement in involving and challenging men to step up, I wonder how sustainable this initiative is? Without organizations embracing the idea, without managers seeing the improved morale of their workers, without breaking the perceptions about workers with children, without more men speaking out about needing more time with their newborns, without women returning back to work six weeks postpartum, #leanintogether will remain just a viral hashtag.

Learning without end: So where are we going?

Let’s take a road trip: Imagine a group of your closest friends are traveling together, passing mile-after-mile, wandering for countless hours until one of your friends asks: “Where the hell are we going?”

Everyone nervously laughs, but no one has an answer, not even you.

Notice that in this story the name of the driver of this road trip is not yet mentioned (mainly because it was not written in the script). But you can probably assume it’s you or one of your friends, but the fact remains, there is no destination with no end in sight.

(My advanced apologies), since the intent of such a story is not to set the stage for some kind of twisted horror flick; although I admit there is a scariness about going to who knows where, without any destination.

Likewise, it may appear just as uneasy about saying learning without an end, where an activity would go on aimlessly without any clear purpose or stated objective.

Anyway, let’s get back to the story. This time, all of you actually know where you’re headed, and who’s the driver! In fact, you are going to the “big city,” driven and ushered by an experienced and exceptional tour guide who knows all the sites: the best restaurants, the coolest music, and the most popular attractions.

Suddenly, the road trip is not scary at all; it’s rather exciting, inspiring, passing place after place wondering about pointing at new things at every turn that your friend smartly asks: “Where on earth are we going?”

Everyone joyfully laughs, not knowing how to answer, still somehow not caring just the same.

So the point is, what if “Learning without end” was just like that?

Going to a “Learning City” that welcomes you with all it has to offer, accompanied by a tour guide (called facilitators in the adult learning practice) seeing together the endless trip as an intellectual journey throughout a lifetime, enjoying each attraction every stage along the way.

CCP Teaching & Learning

CCP Teaching & Learning.