Saturday, March 10, 2007

Keeping young and free!

Now that I am in a change of decade (I just turned 40 on March 9), let me blog about some new findings in the exciting world of education about being young.

New studies that link health, aging and education have suggested that people who go back to school in their late 30s to early 40s get healthier and seem to slow down the passage of the years. The educational researchers and the medical researchers aren't saying to postpone college until when you are in your forties, what they are saying is that even enrolling in non-formal courses or short term certificate courses may give a health advantage. Today some US colleges make a heap of money conducting "college for a day" courses (Some do give academic credit). They cater to people who still want to learn.

It is probable that learning decreases stress of the rat race. Most people build their careers and fortune in their mid 20s to mid 30s. In some careers the pressure is intense that some people do get heart attacks in their early 30s! It's no wonder that some opt for a career shift.

The educational researchers did not deal with grad school, which has stress of its own. Grad school students do their degrees as part of a career advancement strategy.

The moral of the story is, lifelong learning can actually keep you young and healthy even if the contrary is held on by most people.

And it seems that this is best reflected on the teachers themselves. A hale octogenarian prof in a Southern USA university claims that his vitality stems from teaching the same undergraduate introductory chemistry course for over 50 years!

Well I don't know how anyone can last teaching the same undergrad course for 50 years. Students and their culture over the years change, but there are something about students that don't change. They are young. Even mature age students can be young. The teacher will have to remember this in every lecture, exam and discussion.

Students hate when the teacher has become old, and not that his/her body has aged, but that the mind has aged. We used to call them "the living dead" and John Steinbeck called these types "pickled" and "dry balls". Obviously Steinbeck was a biology major.

Ex-students become extremely sad to learn when their teachers eventually pass away. That's because we remember them as when we were students and suddenly they go.

Now we get the idea why teachers are forever young. They have to be forever students.

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