Deb Peterson writes about the importance of lifelong learning on her Continuing Education blog, http://adulted.about.com. I have often heard that one way to stave the onset of Alzheimer's is to keep one's mind active. One skill I acquired when I home schooled my children was the ability to read upside-down because I would have the child read along in their textbook while I read with them. I tell my children all the time that life is a learning experience. When they experience something difficult, I tell them to ask themselves two questions: Where do I go from here? and What have I learned from this experience? One must always move forward through life's tough times, but I digress.
My Mom, 71, is a career educator. She graduated from college in 1958 and went back to get her Master's in Education in 1978 - 20 years and 6 children later. She had to "retire" recently to take care of my Dad who has cancer. Mom successfully fought cancer herself two years ago. When she told me she had retired, I questioned her, "Are you sure??". She finally 'fessed up. "Well, I told the local school district that if they needed a substitute, to call me." You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher. I told her she is going to die teaching. That's okay. She'll go out doing what she loves the most.
I guess that's where I get my love of learning from - Mom. I am continually encouraging my children to do their best in school, to take advantage of every learning opportunity they can, etc. I would much rather read than watch TV. UT provides many opportunities for the students to expand their learning outside of the classroom with visiting department guest lecturers, various film and speaker series, and a great relationship within the community. I have learned a great deal from films and lectures I have attended. It has been a great experience.
Lifelong learning has to be intentional, though. There are so many opportunities for learning. One doesn't necessarily have to return to school. UT offers non-credit courses. Classes in various subjects are available through community centers, the YMCA, online, etc. Life is an adventure to be lived to the fullest!