Monday, April 6, 2009

The Price of Continuing Education

Last Tuesday I was fortunate (and close) enough to attend a lecture on the Philhellenic movement by the esteemed Dr. Fani-Maria Tsigakou, curator of Paintings, Prints, and Drawings at the Benaki Museum in Athens. Brought in by the University of Michigan Classics Department to discuss the movement, Dr. Tsigakou has spent over thirty years in the field and is an author of three books dealing with Philhellenic activity. As I sat in the audience, surrounded by scholars and students, I noticed that there was a sad lack of the general public. With the economy in the slumps, there are a lot of people out there who want to continue their education but are forced to abstain due to their dwindling bank account or unwillingness to seek another student loan. What many people do not know, is that lectures such as this are free and open to the public, and offer a great opportunity to further your education without having to go far from home. In fact, depending on your interests, there are many opportunities for continued adult education that will not break your wallet.

For Academics
Chances are that you live by a university or local college, and chances are that you are interested in one or more subjects taught at the esteemed place of learning. If so, head over to the university website and over to the department's webpage. Most departments have a calendar of events which list when they have visiting scholars or symposiums. Most of these are free and open to the public, and most of them have a small reception afterward. What could be better than learning something new, meeting other scholars in a field you're interested in, and having some fresh fruit and cheese.

For Nature Lovers
Nature Centers and Bird Sanctuaries are excellent opportunities to learn about the flora and fauna outside your back door. For the small price of admission, these centers are designed to foster a love of wildlife and outdoors. Classes and talks can range from astronomy to herpetology, from raptors to local medicinal plants. These are great opportunities to take alone, and great for a family. Best of all, these classes will help you fit in as we move towards a more sustainable Earth.

For Fun
Many cities offer continuing adult education through their school systems. These classes can include language instruction, mosaics, painting, belly dancing, and bookshelf making. As they are taught by members of the community, they are typically low cost and for those time-conscious, last only a few weeks. They may not be as comprehensive as a class you would take at the university, but they offer a beginning for those interested in something new, and a brush-up for those who wish to start again.

For Basic Job Skills
A great opportunity to learn the basic skills needed to survive in today's economy and job market is at your local library. Libraries make it their pride to help educate the community in basic skills that are needed in today's economy. This can include resume development, finance 101, memoir writing and searching the web. Typically these are listed on your library's website and require pre-registration but have little to no fee. While perusing the calendar of events, you may even wander across a fiction or poetry reading which is a chance to meet one of the local authors, relax and socialize.

I'd love to see some comments on your community's continuing education and tips to help everyone out in today's economy.

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