It’s Never Too Late or Early to Learn

I remember sitting in college classes in the late ’70s and wondering about the people who seemingly just “dropped in” to listen to lectures. I learned they were “auditing” the course, and in some cases paying to sit there but not taking it for credit. That just seemed crazy since I was working hard toward a degree at the time. Maturity would teach me that those people were smart, wanting to learn all the time.

Today’s technology makes it even easier to learn. I just came across The New York Times Knowledge Network and am amazed at the number of online courses offered as well as programs and Webcasts. The Times offers some of the courses directly while others are offered in collaboration with universities, colleges and other educational institutions.

Many of the courses are geared for high school students, and range from journalism to science courses. That would have been so cool to take a journalism college course while I was in high school. Other courses for high school students include “How to Start a Blog for High School Students,” “Editing for High School Students,” “Don’t Bury the Lede – Feature Writing for High School Students” and even a course on “Running a Community Blog for High School Students.”

Other courses available online include “An Economic View of Health Care Reform,” an “Anatomy of a Screenplay” and “Article Writing II (advanced) featuring The New York Times.” The list goes on and on. I personally like the site’s slogan: “Take a course and see where that course takes you.”

It’s really all about learning. Those who are lifelong students are the ones who will continue to grow. Vegging out at any age is not an option. Recently, I popped in to see an uncle and take him a forbidden piece of cake. Glasses in one hand and a National Geographic in the other, he opened the door, apologizing for not hearing me knock. Apparently, he was engrossed in a National Geographic televised program and was using the print edition as well. My response was “Good for you, Uncle Bill!” The learning process is never too late, even for those heading into eighth or ninth decades. I’m finding, too, it’s never too early to start the process.

I started reading to my granddaughter when she was a newborn, and when she toddles into my home these days, it’s not unusual for her to go searching for books. This last visit, she picked up a novel I was reading and moved her head side to side as if she were reading. Suggesting she might want to read one of her books, her reply was delivered as only a 2-year-old can: “No, this here is MY book!” My hope is she never quenches her thirst for learning.

Nor should we.