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Lifelong Learning – Never Stop Being Curious

You’ve probably heard the question: Why is youth wasted on the young?  The same might be said of education.  As, kids most of us couldn’t wait for the bell ring to ring, sending us home each day, or we’d count down the days to spring or summer vacation.  Yet, young minds, outside the classroom, are always curious. That’s why a six year old will keep asking you how something works, what something means or why we do whatever it is we are doing. There is an innate curiosity that comes with being young. With that in mind, during the Passover holiday, the youngest at the Seder table reads the Four Questions. It is the inquisitive young mind that sparks the ensuing story that follows.

Yet, it typically isn’t until we are a little older that we truly begin to appreciate the value of learning. I find, that as I grow older, I am always inquiring about something – looking it up online, reading about something that interests me or attending a seminar.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my quest to learn more, as the number of adults going back to school continues to rise. According to the National Center for Education, by the year 2020, nearly 20% of students in college or graduate school will be returnees over the age of 35. That doesn’t take into account the adult learning programs at high schools, local learning centers, or through online only courses.

Why are we Going Back to School?

For some people it’s all about making a much needed career change. Whether in their thirties, forties or even sixties, many people feel that it’s time to do something new. For example, I know of an attorney who was tired of legal work and went back to school to become a nurse. I also heard about a podiatrist who opted for social work instead of feet. Apparently, there are also a growing number of bankers who have opted to change careers. One left the financial services industry to start a craft brewery, while another left the smell of money for the smell of pastries as he became a pastry chef. Of course there are plenty of celebrities who made notable career changes such as Julia Child who actually worked for the CIA before her notable cooking career.

For many of us today, education is imperative to stay current and relevant in your chosen career. Consider how many courses accountants need to stay on top of the ever changing tax laws. Real estate agents, financial planners, and social workers are also among a growing number of other professions that must keep taking credits to stay sharp. Even in professions where it is not mandatory, you need to keep on learning so you don’t fall behind the curve. Anyone in the tech industry knows exactly what I mean. Without learning you can find yourself stuck in the same place using antiquated methods and failing to get the results you want.

Just for You

Then there are those of us who are just curious and want to continue stretching our mental muscles by delving into new topics. For some  it’s all about learning more to enhance your personal journey, such as social emotional learning whereby you gather the tools to understand how to manage emotional behaviors and better maintain positive relationships in order to reach your goals.

Whether you are learning to better yourself personally or to embark on a new career path, the bottom line is that learning keeps your brain sharp. As with any muscle, if you don’t use it enough it atrophies. As life expectancies extends, it is estimated that life learning will extend right along with it, and it makes sense.  Along with the value of physical activities, more and more studies are showing that mental activity keeps people in better overall health.

As for me, I’m not only am I going back to school but I’m encouraging others to join me. I believe that by staying curious you also stay vital, active and even young.

Joe Kelemer

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