Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Osher Classes Enthuse Older Adults for New Learning

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Osher Classes Enthuse Older Adults for New Learning

Article excerpt

Not even frigid temperatures and brutal wind can prevent a group of dedicated seniors - myself included - from bundling up and trudging across icy, snowy sidewalks to our classes.

We arrive well before the class begins, squeeze into chairs meant for a younger and more agile population and take out books, papers and pens. We may forget where we place our car keys or we may misplace our cell phones on a daily basis, but we are still eager to nurture our minds by reading, thinking, discussing and learning.

Prior to this year, I had never enrolled in an Osher class for older adults at either the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon University. The Nov. 1 death of my father, however, convinced my children that I needed to take classes to fill in the time I had once devoted to caring for their grandpa. Because of their prompting, I have spent five weeks studying South African playwright Athol Fugard and making sense of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility." I have already signed up for three spring courses.

I may be 67, but in those classrooms I am once again a little girl determined to excel in academics since success in the social world has always eluded me. Although I receive no grade for my classes, I want to please my teachers. I sit near the front of the room, volunteer to do readings from the text and participate in class discussions. With age, I have evolved from the "me-me-me" hand-waver into a more careful listener who focuses on and values what my classmates have to say.

And these classmates are an amazing group of men and women. They are retired educators, librarians, business people, lawyers, doctors and homemakers. They give rich meaning to the term "lifelong learners," because they embrace learning with unlimited enthusiasm. For the almost two hours of each class, they forget about their alphabet list of ailments and their appointments with a diversity of medical specialists. …

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