How many times have you heard someone say they are too old to learn something new?
It’s often expressed as "You can’t teach an old dog new tricks" or a similar cliche that has little basis in reality. In fact, such falsehoods do less to help people, and do much to hinder them. Instead of encouragement, age is treated as an impediment to learning. I say it’s about time to stop the cliches.
Lifelong learning is a way of life for everyone, whether they are aware of it happening or not. People learn new skills and ideas all of their lives. That old dog is always learning some new and often very exciting tricks, whether or not the dog even realizes the change. That alteration in perception often goes unnoticed, and therefore is very often disregarded. The fact remains, however, there are indeed new tricks to be learned.
It’s an established truism of life that everyone will not only have more than one employer during their working life, but will also be part of more than one career. Those careers may be so different from one another, that the person will have to be almost entirely retrained every time, to make the changes effectively. The need for lifelong learning becomes apparent when the number of career changes is considered as part of the equation.
Not only are more people changing careers than ever before, university and community colleges are experiencing explosions in continuing education enrollments. Not only are the students taking career related courses, but many are choosing topics for enriching the enjoyment of various crafts, activities and hobbies. Learning some new techniques and skills for lifestyle enhancement and personal growth are very much a part of the lifelong learning experience.
In the formal academic world, students are no longer the traditional recent high school graduates. It’s not uncommon to see students old enough to be the parents and the grandparents of the stereotypical student. Formal higher education has lost the age barriers entirely. University and community college classes now have students of all ages. Retraining for new careers is part of the reason, but personal interest is very much part of the educational experience as well.
Don’t look now, but the old dog is learning some brand new tricks and even some exciting and unique twists on them as well. That’s one cliche to be buried along with the bone. In its place, we’ll use a better cliche: "You learn something new every day."
Now that’s cause to celebrate lifelong learning!
Postcript by Rosa: Our Guest Author today is Wayne Hurlbert, author of Blog Business World. Wayne is mentor extraordinaire for the successful entrepreneur who blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and search engine optimization. You will always find your link to Wayne in the right column Ho‘ohana Online Community Listing.