No one can take knowledge away

By Maureen Pratt

Guest Columnist


    While many children might be cringing now that  vacation is over, I imagine that some adults are thinking: “I wish I could go back to school!”
    I’ve embarked on learning journeys in  my life, and each endeavor was worth it for the knowledge, satisfaction and self-confidence that resulted.
    But first I had to deal with three things that can impede “going back to school”: fear, finances and fatigue.
    Whenever we start something new, it is natural to feel apprehension. Perhaps the fear stems from the possibility of failing or as the oldest person in a class, feeling out of place will happen.
    Also, fear of doing something new might be tied to an unpleasant experience. I remember my second-grade teacher trying to get me to roll the letter “r” in Spanish (which I couldn’t do), much to the glee of the rest of the class. I still hear my classmates’ laughter.
    It wasn’t until 20 years later, when I was studying abroad in Spain, that I finally overcame my fear of being ridiculed.
    Adults have an excellent weapon against fear: life experiences. They have already conquered many fears. Being a father or mother takes great courage and strength. Meeting unexpected challenges in life in general brings courage, too. That courage translates into the ability to meet other fears head-on – even the fear of going back to school.
    While education can be expensive and finances can be stretched to a breaking point, a lack of money does not need prevent anyone from learning a new skill or subject:
    ➤ Abraham Lincoln studied law by reading every moment he could while working as a surveyor (among other things).
    ➤ Ray Bradbury, the celebrated author, learned to write books by sitting in the library and reading.
    ➤ Church-sponsored book clubs and discussion groups are inexpensive, excellent ways to learn and share that knowledge in a group.
    ➤ The Internet is an endless source of learning via chat groups, blogs and “breaking news” programs.
    Community colleges, artist studios, high schools and museums offer adult education. Some universities, have embraced “distance learning” with online classes. Some institutions even offer financial aid and scholarships for adults who want to further their education. It never hurts to explore what’s available!

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