By Paul H. Wilson, resident of The Fountains at Greenbriar, a Watermark community
As I was growing up, it seemed that no sooner than I had joyfully run down the steps of school in May for an endless summer of fun that Mom was calling me to go shopping for back-to-school supplies. List in her hand, about all I can vividly remember was several pairs of new white socks and off-brand tennis shoes. How times have changed! I now look forward to a continued lifetime of learning and I am reminded each day of the wisdom of Albert Einstein, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Science and medical research indicate that individuals who keep their minds active and sharp will have higher rates of improved quality of life, both mentally and physically.
One of my reasons for living at a Watermark community is the opportunity to participate in Watermark University. Before I tell you more about it and why I believe all of us should participate, as either student, instructor or both, let me share a true story.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of being responsible for the lives of many adults with mental and physical disabilities. A large number of them were being judged by society as inferior, and they didn’t even have the opportunity to complete high school. I worked with a local university and arranged for high school classes and basic college classes to be offered with volunteer instructors during the evenings after our students were finished working for the day. I am proud to say that all our students finished their high school education and had enrolled in college classes when I moved on. The pride they felt as they moved through the campus with other college students cannot be measured. With each of them, I am reminded of another Albert Einstein quote, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Just as these students were passionately curious, I trust that age has not diminished the flame of curiosity in each of us.
Recent studies tell us that the greatest good comes from learning so we mentally stretch and use new skills. We may already knit and have done so our whole life. Why take another class on knitting? Because it is safe? Take a class in photography, for instance, as it will improve your cognitive functioning. Let’s learn a new skill and engage in an offering that is exciting, challenging and something we’re curious about. Adult learning MUST be different than it was for us in school many years ago. It must:
• Be relevant
• Encourage us to explore
• Take our background into account
• Help us learn from mistakes
• Involve emotions
• Involve real-world benefits
• Use storytelling
• Use short lessons
• Involve practice
• Avoid Lecture
Our instructors work hard to make each class exciting and fulfilling for the curious. Watermark University classes offer new and interesting topics and help us develop new skills, as the instructors use the very best teaching methods.
With fall approaching, I recommend you start thinking about going back to school. Think about the skills, the many gifts you have and the joy you will find in sharing it all with members of your community. It’s not enough to sit in your room and watch TV, so consider being curious. It may only take an hour each week. Look at the classes when your Watermark University class list comes out. What would you like to learn? Find a friend and go to a class together. Dare to be curious, and explore something new. I’m proud to say I attend Watermark University, and you should too.