Why should we care so much about lifelong learning? To have interesting conversations with friends and impress them with our knowledge? Perhaps, but lifelong learning can also:
- help us adapt to change (especially with all the technological changes that we are experiencing!)
- keep our minds sharp and improve memory
- keep us involved as active contributors to society
- contribute to our personal well-being and fulfillment
- help us keep in touch with people and meet new friends who have the same interests
- support creativity and innovation
- stimulate physical activity and keep our spirits high (which is why lifelong learning is like a health club for our brains!)
Still not sold on lifelong learning? How about this benefit: Brain-based research proves that we need to keep our minds active to maintain the brain’s functionality. Early researchers believed that the creation of new neurons in our brain stopped shortly after birth. Today, it is understood that the brain is able to reorganize pathways, create new connections and even create new neurons throughout life. This is called neuroplasticity. “Research in neuroscience shows that it is possible to prevent the deterioration of intellectual faculties, and to maintain the functionality of the brain to learn in an effective and satisfactory way even in old age; in short, learning can actually be lifelong.” (from The Ageing Brain: Neuroplasticity and Lifelong Learning by Eleonora Guglielman). I like the way a writer from Time magazine put it: “We’re like a jumbo jet that’s always getting repairs and new parts. The key to qualifying for that servicing, however, is remaining mentally active.”
So we can see that lifelong learning is really beneficial for many areas of our lives – socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively.
So what are some ways to keep mentally active?
Lifelong learning includes both formal and informal learning opportunities that can happen at home, schools, colleges, libraries; with clubs, community organizations, friends and family; and through travel experiences, community service and volunteerism. Here are some specific strategies to keep us mentally active:
- do puzzles (e.g. crossword, sudoku, word puzzles)
- get exercise (It improves memory and stimulates creativity, which is why some employers are encouraging their employees to get out of their seats throughout the day to move their bodies and stimulate their minds.)
- play games that require strategy (e.g. chess, card games)
- join a book club
- read the newspaper or browse the Web for online articles
- enroll in a class or workshop to learn something new or improve on something you already know such as a foreign language, computer skills, financial literacy, music, art, or self-development
- share your knowledge and experience by volunteering with a community organization
To volunteer or register for a CBAL program, contact your local community literacy coordinator. And if you want to engage in a literacy activity that could inspire others to value lifelong learning, you can enter the “Literacy is Life” letter contest.” Just click on the following link: http://http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001PgDih2a5xDHHOgvVrr5fppm6cM3ou6qlmwkzIxX3n1qpdx_g6Xu-Fhme9iWkia1UQwrJzFSAO608rfl9Hwa5x7kZTkioMAugdu8-yo8z__WV05AUDPnM8wJbenGoc22Al9LUw0iWKVCDIBI_gh97gA36xP3YPxAUR8zMq8vp_jpThi0kioYqLJr8mm6-YnRl&c=QmZzn2eeef25EOFtjvmHtUluQ8miU2K8L2JioLsYjnW6hHDuPAfR8w==&ch=P0n9Ce3-62l1ctHG2Pya5izOiLNhLhuSEBQD3C5W25vYgQ9nnEGexQ==. You could win an iPad or Smart phone!
By Monica De