Staying young by constantly learning
We can learn new stuff all the time by taking up hobby classes
MARK Twain once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.”
I agree with him completely, or else why would I be making a 1½ hour return journey each Tuesday night for 10 weeks just to learn something new?
Leaving the warm fire on the hearth and driving for miles on winding country roads with no street lamps on cold nights with the risk of ice on the road, and frost on the windscreen, would certainly deter anyone from making the journey.
But, then again, pursuing parttime hobby classes of your choice is an excitement in itself. I have been contemplating signing up for such classes but the schedule didn’t suit me before.
This time round, the hours are perfect and so, I signed up for an introductory course in hair and beauty at the Limerick College of Further Education in Cappamore.
Whenever I tell my friends or family members that I have chosen such a course, they chuckle. The next thing I know, I am not short of models to practise on.
In the 1960s and 70s going to the UK to study hair-dressing was all the rage. My neighbour dreamt about it. My sister dreamt about it. It certainly cost a lot of money.
I remember those who graduated and opened their own hair salons. It was the talk of the town and you had to make an appointment for an overseas-trained haircut which would cost four times the going rate.
It is nice to be on the other end of the spectrum. Instead of standing in front of a class, I am now a student again. Putting the notes together in a file reminds me of my university days.
Carrying the file reminds me of the students whom I used to teach. It is lovely to be with other students who are friendly and helpful. Most of all, there are no examinations and that’s the best part.
There are many factors that contribute to the joy of learning.
I used to be suspicious about disembodied heads. To an overactive imagination, they look spooky. Imagine such a head looking at you in a dimly lit room.
For the first time I can work on a hairdressing training head without fear.
There is no pressure to perform and nothing to memorise. I can learn new stuff all the time without the anxiety.
I remember joining a community drama group and I had to learn St Joan’s soliloquy in Bernard Shaw’s play. Before long I was having nightmares about forgetting my lines on stage.
The lecturer factor is very important. Geraldine the lecturer is passionate about her teaching.
I can sense her enthusiasm and her genuine interest in passing on her knowledge to her students, no holds barred.
She is also immaculately dressed and I often tell myself that any product is as good as the packaging.
The element of success drives the student to want to achieve more. Because we do things hands on, there is this feeling of accomplishment.
Of course, whatever I emulate is far from perfection, but the realisation that “hey, I can do this too!” evokes a warm, fuzzy feeling within.
There is this environment of freedom that liberates. Because we are adult learners and come from all walks of life, we carry with us different ideas and creativity. Unlike an autocratic style of teaching and learning, we could ask questions and try new things.
The last thing we need is to be in a straight-laced jacket where there can be only one explanation and one way of doing things.
I am also allowed to use the camera to take photos so I can remember better.
As this is a beginner’s course, I find the tasks manageable. What I learn is meaningful to me and I want to return for more each week.
Imagine being in a class where everything is above my head or worse still where everything is so elementary that I get bored.
I remember going for a class on photography because I wanted to learn how to use my DSLR camera better. But the course was pitched at a very elementary level and the teacher did not have a DSLR camera herself. So, I never went back after the first lesson.
When this course finishes, I’ll sign up for yet another. There is a plethora of courses and one is spoilt for choice — from blacksmithing to building a bird house. I might take up the Irish language because it is such a beautiful language. Or I might take up Spanish in the hope of walking the Camino de Santiago.
Whatever it is, I know I will not stop learning.