Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999

Terrified in Toronto

By ANDREW OLIVER - June 20 2019

Dear Elcee:

I am 55 years old, working in a good job but I am going to be made redundant within the next couple of years.  I have been offered an opportunity to go back to school for training which will allow me to obtain a better paying and more secure job in my company.  The problem is that the idea of going back to school terrifies me.  Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Terrified in Toronto

Dear Terrified:

I recently met a woman who learned to drive for the first time at the age of 65! I asked why she decided to learn to drive at that late age. She said she wanted a challenge.  The famous folk artist Grandma Moses did her first painting at 76. Frank McCourt, author of Angelas Ashes, didn’t take up writing until he was 65.  Learning is different as you age but not in a bad way. Here are some key points to ponder;

Midlife learners bring a level of understanding to learning where they are better able to apply new concepts to previous experience. You have already experienced workplace culture and may have encountered challenges that young learners have not and are therefore better able to incorporate and/or transfer these skills to their new workplace. 

Midlife learners are often more focussed than younger learners.  They are more likely to have a stronger sense of purpose in choosing to return to school and therefore “own” their decision.  Studies show that while a younger person may be able to learn new tasks more quickly an older person is able to integrate information more readily.

Midlife learners may be more disciplined in their studies. While a young college student may seem, at times, all over the map in their studies (many of us remember “cramming” for exams!) the more mature student may be entering studies already accustomed to managing a myriad of demands.  They usually have developed abilities through work and personal life in setting priorities, especially in establishing time for study.

Numerous recent scientific studies on neuroplasticity attest to how remarkable the brain is in being able to utilise various parts of the brain in learning new tasks and concepts. There is also scores of evidence on the positive effects on us on our mental and physical health by continuing to learn as we age.  The good news is…you CAN teach a more mature dog new tricks.  The methods may vary and the cleanup is way, way easier. (Very little shoe chewing and pillow ripping with mature dogs…). I like to think that while younger learners may have more energy and shorter sleep times, older workers gain in the areas of patience and wisdom. I choose patience and wisdom any day. So, go ahead!  Enjoy! Your brain will thank you.

Dear ELCEE is written by Deborah Noel, deborahjnoel@gmail.com
Send her your questions.

We value your opinion. Please let us know what you think about this column. Send comments to learningcurves@hotmail.com.


Resources
Learning Curves

Vote! Election Day October 24th

By WENDY TERRY -
October 5 2022

Municipal elections are the most complex because you vote for 3 representatives: a Mayor for your city, a Councillor for your ward, and a School Trustee for your ward.

Read more...

Editorial
Learning Curves

Anne McDonagh

By WENDY TERRY -
October 5 2022

Anne spent the 25 years of her retirement founding the University in the Community program and editing and developing Learning Curves. She also took on being Vice President of the Workers’ Educational Association who founded and developed University in the Community and published Learning Curves. 

Read more...

Resources

A New Chapter and a New Life: How Hard Could It Be?

By ADMIN -
October 5 2022

Today the whole world knows what is happening in Ukraine. War came to my home in February of 2022 one morning at 5:30am with a deafening explosion from the airport about 15 kilometers from my street.

Read more...

Resources

Moving On from Being a Full Time Mom

By ADMIN -
October 5 2022

One day before my 33rd birthday, I wrote and passed my very first exam towards becoming a Real Estate Agent! After almost a decade of being a full time mom to 3 kids, this was my first step towards building a professional career.

Read more...