This article was written by Linda Steck
Many of us have heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I don’t know about teaching dogs, but I can tell you that for most people, learning something new is not only possible, but it keeps the brain active like taking a walk keeps the body active.
For many, the word “learning” is synonymous with school. In fact, much of our learning is done outside of an academic setting. Whether you are a student, home-tender, mid-life worker or recent retiree, lifelong learning is your path whether you want to go there or not. Look at your day to day life to see how much you learn on a regular basis:
- Most new appliances or electronic gadgets come with knobs and buttons that must be understood to make them work. If you are challenged with today’s technology, reading the owner’s manual might be like learning a foreign language.
- Changes in style, music, and art introduce us to new fabrics and textures, instruments and sounds, and new interpretations of ordinary items and events.
- New food products or combinations (and the disappearance of our old favorites) give us new possibilities in the kitchen and at the restaurants.
- If you drive anywhere in the Twin Cities, the latest detours getting you from point A to point B are… intellectually stimulating? And while we don’t yet have an influx of traffic circles in our neighborhood… well, never mind. There are a lot of people that may never understand the reason for or the flow of the roundabouts.
You may find joy in learning but do not have the financial resources to go to school or join organizations with membership fees. Do not be discouraged. Education does not need to be stifled with a big price tag. Here’s how to find learning opportunities that are free or at very low cost right in our community or in your own home:
Events in the Camden News – many free events are published in the Camden News. Recent events included a local middle school’s science (STEM) fair, a learning session on the history of your home at the Webber Library, and weekly chats with our Councilmember Phillip Cunningham. For free classes and workshops check the calendar on page 10 of this Camden News.
North Market – the North Market is so much more than a grocery store. The commitment to community wellness includes free, hands-on cooking and nutrition education classes for those with health issues, information sessions on weight loss surgery, and mindfulness education for peace of mind and stress management. There’s yoga and Zumba classes too!
Webber Library – the library is a gem in our community and is staffed with people who can help in your search for knowledge. Don’t know what you want to learn about? Check out the featured art displays, look into the kids reading programs (especially helpful to keep our children learning during the summer months), or just browse the books for something that catches your eye.
Online learning – with a Hennepin County Library Card, you can access Lynda.com for free. (If you need a library card, visit Webber or North Regional Libraries or any of the libraries in the Hennepin County System.) Lynda.com hosts hundreds of courses in business, software and web development, and design and photography, to name just a few. Sign-up with your library card for free, and you may be on your way to the next step up in your career or be able to shift to a career path that is better suited to your talents.
Volunteering – There are opportunities throughout our neighborhoods to volunteer. You can learn through your assigned task at the volunteer function or by meeting people in different walks of life.
And on the subject of walks, if your interests are in nature, visit the North Mississippi Nature Center at 49th Avenue North and I-94 (the river side of I-94). The Carl W. Kroening Interpretive Center has indoor displays and activities as well as trails to walk with signboards providing information about the plants and native animals.
Are you still hesitant to get started? Perhaps you have not found success as a student before. There are tricks to learning at any age.
- To enjoy your learning, find the way you learn best – some learn from the written word, either in a book, manual or online tutorial. Others are aural learners – that is when the lesson is verbal, which may also be online. Some are a hybrid of the two – they want to be shown how it is done and can then refer back to the manual when needed. Whatever you prefer, it is best to focus your learning efforts that way.
- If you are learning for a hobby, dabble in variety if it does not threaten your budget. For example, Bob has been a community member for almost 30 years. He never had a yard to take care of before buying his home. He started out with a few plants – some thrived and others died. Each spring, he asked the staff questions and he bought a few new plants along with those that were successful previously. Today his neighbors commend him on his outstanding gardens, and he still chats about successes and failures with the nursery staff.
To conclude, the most important lesson is this – don’t ever stop learning. Each of life’s lessons takes us a little further on our journey.