Adult learners emerge from hibernation

Although the cold winds of COVID19 may return any day to rattle our ribs, anxiety has generally abated — at least for the time being, and at least in my corner of the social world. Various activities that have been suspended for months are now resuming. Among them are several informal education classes held in community centres.

MALA members at one of my previous talks

As groups of adult learners emerge from hibernation to participate again in programs run by organisations such as MALA and U3A, I’m glad to have been re-engaged as a speaker for a number of sessions in the coming weeks.

An earlier blog piece of mine — “In Praise of Older Readers” — expressed the enthusiasm I feel in engaging with mature-age groups of this kind. They bring a lively curiosity to each session; their questions and opinions draw on a wide range of experience; and they know how to be both thoughtfully critical and encouragingly appreciative.

Each Friday for the month of September, I’ll be presenting a lecture on some aspect of “Memory, Imagination and Writing” under the auspices of MALA (Mature Adults Learning Association). Memory and imagination are basic sources for many kinds of writing. Sometimes one or the other may predominate (e.g. memory for autobiography and family history; imagination for certain forms of fiction). But the most engaging literary works usually blend the two in creative ways, and this blend is part of the secret of writing successfully. I’ll discuss examples from a range of genres over the four sessions.

Then in October I’m due to talk to the Perth branch of U3A (University of the Third Age) on “When History Meets Fiction.” I’ll explore questions about the tension between fact and fiction in historical investigation. What options does an author have when evidence doesn’t tell us enough? This pair of lectures offers a fiction writer’s inside story of bringing the past back to life.

You may like to mention these courses to someone you know who could be interested in them. For more information, see the Events page of this website.

7 thoughts on “Adult learners emerge from hibernation

  1. Thanks for your comment, John, and commiserations on the UK situation you describe. Of course things here in Perth could deteriorate rapidly; it just happens that in Western Australia there has been no community transmission of the virus for several months and the closed borders remain a curb on the possibility of an outbreak – so most people are fairly comfortable at present about social meetings provided that careful precautions are observed.

  2. Thanks for sharing details of these courses, Ian. I didn’t know that MALA existed. Hoping to come along if there is still a place available, and will certainly share the information. The course looks to be exactly what I am looking for at the moment.

  3. These reading and writing platforms for mature people seem increasingly valuable in contexts of widespread and knee jerk media focus on the vulnerability and, often implicitly, the disposability of older people, many of whom are disconcerted to find themselves represented as economic liabilities, rather than invaluable contributors, in the past and in the present. Personally, I think memory loss needs to be reconsidered as the place of novel and innovatory forms of perception and the keepers of past knowledge given every platform possible. The lectures sound fascinating.

  4. Well said, Robyn! I particularly like your comment on memory loss and your way of characterising mature-age people as “keepers of past knowledge” – I may borrow that phrase for use in these sessions…

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