Senior community supports lifelong learning

Shepherd Village’s newsletter, the Shepherd Village Voice, ran the following article in its October 2023 issue. With their permission, we are reprinting it here as a great example of lifelong learning. Perhaps it will trigger ideas for how your community might tap into the knowledge and expertise of your members to present educational programs for all.

Stretching Our Minds with Lifelong Learning
by Village Voice staff

It’s October — and that means Shepherd Villagers are neck deep in the study of music, culture, foodways and more during the fall semester of Shepherd University’s Lifelong Learning Program, dedicated to offering stimulating academic courses and activities to folks like us — older adults.

Many villagers are again stretching their minds with classes in everything from medieval church history (those crazy Crusades!) to memoir writing to music. What’s more, several are again teaching and helping out with the program as advisory committee members, volunteer classroom assistants and, of course, by contributing financial support. 

Here’s a peek at the 2023 fall classes and Brown Bag Lunch lectures led by Shepherd Village members:


The Game’s Afoot!

Even if you (like Sherlock Holmes) presume nothing, you can be assured that Shepherd Village member Doc, a retired philosophy professor, university provost and dedicated Sherlock Holmes fan, is teaching another class in his popular series on the fictional detective. This semester’s offering is titled “The Game’s Afoot! Further Explorations into Sherlock Holmes.” Participants have been reading six more stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, meeting Sherlock’s brilliant brother Mycroft, and psychoanalyzing one of the great villains in literature, Professor James Moriarty. 

Sherlock, er, Doc, is also teaching a class on the French novelist Marcel Proust titled “Proust Without Pain.” Doc describes the class as “a guided tour through the entire 3,000-plus pages of Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ for those who never got around to reading it. If that title doesn’t sound familiar, some of us might recognize it by an older translation, “Remembrance of Things Past.” 

In addition, Doc is offering a talk as part of the Brown Bag Luncheon Lecture Series, titled “Nazism and Philosophy: Re-reading Heidegger.” Doc calls Martin Heidegger “one of the giants of philosophy” of the 20th century. But in 1933, Heidegger openly embraced Nazism and was made rector of the University of Freiburg, where he carried out Nazi policies. “How could a great thinker fall prey to an ideology of fear and hate? Herein may be a lesson for our own time,” Doc says.

Doc also is a member of the Lifelong Learning Program Advisory Committee, along with Village member Marcy. She helps train and coordinate volunteers for the program and runs classroom technology (hello Zoomers!), among other important functions. 


Beautiful Music

Shepherd Village member David R., a retired international opera singer and lover of many types of music, is teaching an opera-listening class this semester titled “Bel Canto Opera: Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini.”

David notes that in the first half of the 19th century, opera “was ruled by” these three composers. “They in turn were ruled by singers who glorified the vocal style known as bel canto, or beautiful singing,” David adds. “Bel canto is the perfect lyrical voice possessing vocal agility, beauty and purity of tone, seamless legato phrasing and faultless technique. Singers that achieved the bel canto style were truly the celebrity superstars of their time.” 

Some of the operas the class has been exploring include “The Barber of Seville” and “Lucia di Lammermoor.”

Considering a Plant-Based Diet?

Finally, Villager Anne is teaching a class called “A Plant-based Diet: The What, Why and How.” A retired professor of social work and a longtime vegan (she eats no meat, fish or dairy), Anne says the course is looking at the kinds of foods that comprise a plant-based diet, including the best plant-based protein sources, as well as the rationale for eating less meat.

Anne’s husband, Chris, shared in a recent class that their plant-based journey began as a temporary experiment after a painful encounter with a large pepperoni pizza. But it continued when they both realized how much their digestion seemed to improve when they stopped eating meat. Anne says they kept the experiment going with a friendly competition to see who could cook the best plant-based dinners. “We didn’t feel deprived,” she says.

In the class, Anne has been sharing abundant research she has compiled on the health benefits, and benefits to the environment, of plant-based eating. Class presentations have included ways of getting started (such as skipping meat even one day a week) and some of her favorite plant-based recipes and snacks —such as whole-grain crackers and dairy-free cheese made from cashews. 


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