Putting the focus on lifelong learning

“If you don’t have digital skills, it’s all too easy to become isolated, cut off from today’s modern lifestyle. So as part of lifelong learning, embrace technology.”

By Margaret Smith

I graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a French degree many years ago. However, I have always believed in lifelong learning. Instead of just finishing your education at a certain age (when school or university finishes), lifelong learning is when you carry on learning throughout your life, whether as part of a class or on your own.

I have been a housewife for many years but I have always tried to keep up studying, enrolling on some course or other whenever I could. I wanted to share my enthusiasm for lifelong learning with you and to encourage you to take the opportunities that come your way.

By getting involved in learning, you can learn new skills, update existing ones, prepare for work or learn for fun, broaden your horizons and meet new friends.

Key to ageing well

In addition, staying mentally active has many health benefits and is one of the keys to ageing well. Research has demonstrated that staying mentally active as we get older can do wonders for keeping the brain healthy.

Learning helps keep brain cells functioning at optimum levels and can inhibit memory loss and ward off cognitive decline as we age.
The old adage “use it or lose it” is true, I guess.

I recently attended a free public lecture at London School of Economics (LSE), University of London. The lecture was called The Class Ceiling. Academics continue to debate whether the UK is becoming more of a classless society and the lecture was about class background and whether it poses a barrier to upward mobility in employment.

Two sociologists had written a book about this topic and the lecture coincided with their book launch. The lecture finished with ideas about how workplaces could be made more representative of society at large.

Free public lectures

I wanted to share with you some information about which places offer public lectures which everyone is welcome to attend.
I mentioned LSE. Every year LSE hold a series of lectures on various topics called LSE Events. These lectures are free and open to all to attend. Some of the other colleges of the University of London, for example Queen Mary College, University College London (UCL), Kings College and Birkbeck College offer free public lectures too, it’s worth checking them out.

Other institutions in London offering public lectures are the British Academy, British Library, British Museum, Conway Hall, and Inner Space – Inner Space offers talks on meditation and personal development.

If it is purely science that you are interested in, why not try the Royal Institution, Royal Society or the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

Many of the above places I have mentioned offer videos and podcasts of their lectures online so if you cannot get to a certain lecture on the day, you don’t have to miss out.

There are many other ways you can learn. You can take part in adult classes at colleges and universities. Hackney Community College is a large college in Hackney – now part of New City College. I studied a cake and patisserie making course there a couple of years ago.

Digital skills in today’s world How about online education, sometimes called e-learning? You can study online courses from home at whatever hours suit you best. That‘s why it’s so important to keep your computer skills up. We need digital skills to stay connected in today’s world.

If you don’t have digital skills, it’s all too easy to become isolated, cut off from today’s modern lifestyle. So as part of lifelong learning, embrace technology. With a PC, tablet or smartphone, you have tech available constantly and if you choose to study online, there is no need to attend a class to make progress.

So many colleges and universities offer an online learning option. They will also have forums and chatrooms where you can share your experiences and information and chat online to other students. As well, many websites offer free online courses on specific topics.

I hope that I have given you some useful ideas that you can use to carry on learning. With so many lectures and courses available, I am certain you’ll find one that meets your needs.

BRITISH LIBRARY
A range of free events and exhibitions from A Century of Women’s Football to the Windrush Sound Tours.
Address: British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
t: 01937 546546
www.bl.uk

INNER SPACE
Meditation and personal development. Subjects include:
become a better listener, trust your intuition, think more positively and meditation.
All activities are free! Although voluntary donations are welcome, they are not required.
Address: 36 Short’s Gardens, WC2H 9AB
t: 020 7836 6688
www.innerspace.org.uk

LSE EVENTS
Including lunch time piano recitals, evening concerts and talks on history, politics, equalities and more…
Address: The London School of Economics & Political Science,
Houghton Street, WCH 2AE
t: 020 7405 7686
www.lse.ac.uk

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