To study late in life comes with an enormous amount of advantages. See it as a kind of exercise. It keeps your brain fit. And don’t worry about your brain, it’s stronger than you might think.
Both Hannie and I never stopped educating ourselves. We probably will be studying as long as we can read and listen. Lately I have been picking up my old love for literature again, more specifically for poetry. This gives me much pleasure.
However, the question is why you should study late in life. Of course, because to study gives pleasure. Yet there is more to this question that meets the eye.
In the years before we went to Spain I organized lectures at the university in Amsterdam. All these lectures were given by professors on topics they thought would be interesting for the students.
The students were men and women who were responsible for the decision-making process in city councils. Most of them were academics.
They came to the lectures for several reasons. The most important were: career advancement, to broaden academic horizons and to get inspired. I always very much enjoyed the inquisitiveness of these students and the resulting discussions.
Academy for the Education of the Elderly
Some 10 minutes before the lectures for the civil servants started I entered my designated auditorium. Although this had to be empty for long, it was always occupied by students of the ‘Academy for Education of the Elderly’ (HOVO). They could never stop. I had to force them out.
Moreover, from the red heads of these older students and the sweating of their tutor, I gathered that these elderly were indeed fanatic students. When asked, they acknowledged wholeheartedly.
For all those 60-plussers who don’t want to sit behind the geraniums, who still have some interest for what’s going on in the world and who want to find it out for themselves, this type of academy is a big delight.
Study satisfies curiosity
If not for career advancement, why would you want to be inspired or broaden your horizon? Especially when the subject matter is rather complicated.
For starters, you could educate yourself just because you’re curious. Even many people who have never been able to follow much substantial education, are often plain curious. They want to know everything. Some have specific subjects as a field of interest. For instance, many people are very interested in history.
Give study a try
Another reason could be that you want to enter a totally new field of interest. Perhaps aimed at changing your career late in life? It’s often such a pity that such changes are hampered by all kinds of legal and financial restrictions.
Some people want to become educators themselves or educators want to get a more practical approach on issues they have been teaching about for years. Of course, curiosity as such is also enough of a reason.
The Night Sky Network
Some people want to keep up with the developments in their field of expertise. Or they want to exchange their experiences with others in a more formal educational setting. Some want to update their theoretical insights.
Others want to contribute, to science or to society. There are amateur historians who know more about specific subjects than academics do. Famous is the astronomical cooperation headed by NASA: Night Sky Network. Much helped by computers and the Internet amateurs and scientists made some significant discoveries by their combined efforts.
In archeology there are many amateurs who know all about their field of expertise. They contribute with discoveries and new theoretical insights. There is no end to the list of subjects, and objects, that you can study.
Your brain is your body
To study late in life is good for your body! Your brain is the most essential part of your body. It covers all functions.
That is why it makes sense to treat your brain as you treat the rest of your body. This means that it’s wise to keep your brain fit and healthy. As with your body, you can do this with different types of exercise.
Do not only read books and articles. Also follow lectures, such as those of TED. Or try to write a book or an article, or give a lecture yourself.
All the educational challenges in later life are facilitated when you follow a formal course. Many schools, colleges and universities offer courses to the elderly. Many of them even have special departments. Often you can follow parts of existing programs.
Such programs require you to read books, discuss stuff with your co-students and do all kinds of choruses. Some of you do not cherish such good memories from their formal school time. This is all the more reason to try a formal course.
You will notice that there was and is a lot of fun in formal education. You will also notice how important the feedback is from your tutor and co-students. Education is an excellent example of a very positive social process.
At the moment, with many countries in lockdown, it is impossible to follow any formal education in a physical institution. Besides not everybody has such an educational institution around the corner.
When you have difficulty to start all by yourself, there are many other opportunities. Harvard is just one of the famous universities that offers free courses on the Internet. They’re called MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses.
However, no matter what reason or how, to educate yourself will always benefit you. If only because it will keep your brain fit.