Third agers keep on learning

by Dorianne Sager
Student intern,
Sing Tao School of Journalism

With summer vacation in full swing, and the evidence of various graduation parties swept into collective memory banks, few graduates could imagine that they might still be taking classes well into their eighties. But, as students of the Third Age Spring Lecture series might tell you, learning doesn't stop once the diploma has been framed.

"I'll be coming 'til I drop," says participant Joyce Scholefield, who has stored more than seven decades of education and has no intention of stopping now.

Brian Marshall, a retired civil servant, shares Scholefield's enthusiasm. He has been coming to Third Age lectures for the past seven years, his favorite topic being literature.

"These lectures are things you didn't have time for when you were an undergraduate," says Marshall. "That's the beauty of this stuff -- it's catching up."

The Third Age lectures are part of UBC Continuing Studies' Third Age Society, an umbrella organization that provides university-level learning experiences for those 55 years of age and older.

The program started in 1974 when program director Norman Watt came up with the idea for a series of lectures that would make the most of the campus facilities during the summer and give seniors an opportunity to refresh themselves with novel ideas. This year the program celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Courses are scheduled in the mornings and cover a range of topics in art, history, politics, literature, science and religion. In the afternoon participants often visit the Museum of Anthropology, tour the Botanical Garden or swim at the Aquatic Centre.

More than 500 registrants are attracted to the lecture series each year, many of whom are regulars.

Jim Saull, who will turn 86 in August, loves the ambience of university life. Saull is enjoying his first course at UBC, Islamic Art and Architecture, and finds it fascinating.

"To be able to enjoy life at my age is something special," he says.

While the spring lecture series has recently finished, the Third Age Society offers two other programs throughout the year. For more information, call Continuing Studies at 604-822-1444.