Admittedly, sometimes, I fall into a passive, visual trap. There are so many interesting, historical or fantasy series on public and commercial television that it is easy to fall into a visual mind habit. I can justify it to myself by working hard during the day and “deserving” a stress-free evening. The background noise also helps me feel like I have company. No matter how I try to justify it – am I gaining any knowledge from the programming and am I using my free time wisely?
It’s the time of year when we ask teachers to self-reflect on their practices and think about their personal professional development goals. Montessori education values the development of lifelong learners – and how we role model that goal for our students. I was thinking about the professional development that Twin Parks Montessori Teachers participate in throughout the year. We have many health and safety classes with face-to-face and online options. We also offer curriculum and child development options. Our goal is to provide opportunities to facilitate lifelong learning. Here is what I have learned about different generations and being a life-long learner:
- Not long ago, I attended a 70th birthday party for my friend, Eddie. I was told to wear my dancing shoes. I did and I was honored to dance with Eddie’s 94-year-old aunt. Yes, 94 years young and she had some smooth moves. In conversation, I learned that Eddie is learning Kung Fu and Tai Chi as a way to be in tune with himself and the world.
- Recently, I was catching up with one of my former employers, Patty. It was inspiring to listen to a member of the Silent Generation (born during the Great Depression and WWII). Patty has been retired for 20 years from the education field, but immediately became a travel consultant – a second career in her 60s. Patty lives a full life dating, traveling, enjoying dinner and movies, and going out with friends. She also leads a support group for single women. She told me about a book her group is reading. It is called The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully.
- I also learned about the Quest program at City College of NYC comprised of retirees who teach classes to one another from computer technology, philosophy, and the arts. It is a peer-to-peer adult education community. Surely these individuals are lifelong learners.
Baby Boomers (born 1946 – mid-1960s), like me, always heard that “good things come to those who work hard.” Of all of the generations, there are more workaholics in this group than any other. One way Baby Boomers can avoid work burnout is to make a commitment to be lifelong learners. Boomers should consider opportunities to participate in classes that are non-work related. Most of the teachers at Twin Parks Montessori Schools are members of Generation X (born mid-1960s to early 1980s) or Millennials (born early 1980s to 2000s). Research shows that both groups are fairly optimistic about the future and use multimedia to stay connected. Opportunities for learning is at their fingertips. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, work-life balance and opportunities to progress are among leading factors for millennials who are evaluating job opportunities. They appreciate professional development and collaborative work environments. Good to know! Learning doesn’t end at the end of a college degree or when a certificate is earned. Learning helps you feel relevant, engaged and vital for a very long time!