It is convenient at times to think of life in three ages: childhood, adulthood and elderhood. As I raced through the 1st and 2nd ages of education and employment, I gave little thought to how my 3rd age might be focused. Given the pace of change during the last two thirds of the Twentieth Century, it is probably just as well. I could never have anticipated the diversity, richness, and extent of the opportunities ahead of me. Now that I am in that 3rd age, it is clear that this is the greatest learning time of all. Learning is definitely a lifelong process and it is even more fun now than during my 1st age!
Each of our succeeding generations is learning to live longer with greater health and productivity. "Retirement" is being redefined, redesigned and relived "on the go". More and more "retirees" are discovering the joy of 3rd age learning. That learning is allowing them to make and fulfill commitments to their communities in ways they could not have imagined a few years ago. Their commitments involve work that may be different but is just as creative and professional as the work they performed during their 2nd age. Reward for their work may be money but more often it is, at least partially, some form of alternative compensation.
Questions surrounding 3rd-age learning, alternative work and alternative compensation are of great interest to me. In what ways can we tap this growing collective knowledge and wisdom for society in general and WorkSpan clients in particular? How can this benefit clients and the communities they serve as well as 3rd-age learners? One way I am seeking answers is through connections with community colleges. Connecting all ages of lifelong learners in community is one way of sharing society's collective knowledge and wisdom. Hopefully, my own elder learning, including my learning to be an elder, serves clients and communities in ways that help us all learn together.