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Keeping our minds active through lifelong learning

Jul 5, 2017

If you want to keep your brain in good shape, you have to keep learning. Scientific study after study has shown that, and it’s why, at Canterbury Woods Williamsville, we put so much emphasis on lifelong learning.

Shortly after this unique retirement community opened, a group of residents started getting together once a week to talk about advances in science. From that simple beginning grew an on-campus continuing education center called Canterbury University, a comprehensive, well-put-together program with a wide range of offerings. Residents and guest speakers present courses covering topics such as philosophy, the Bible, the Middle East, Greek literature, Renaissance art, history, astronomy, economics, literature and music. Residents also enjoy lectures, art and hobby classes, special interest clubs, discussion groups and cultural events that stretch their minds. For example, author Tim Shannon recently talked about his historical novel, Books, Bootleggers & Patriots, set in Buffalo at the turn of the century. Another recent presentation explored propaganda, art and advertising, from Egyptian and Roman times to the present.

For those who want to cast their learning nets wider, the Buffalo area’s schools and universities offer a large selection of continuing education courses for adults.

Classes are free of charge at the University of Buffalo for students who participate in the university’s 60 and Over Auditors Program. Registration for the fall term begins in early August. Students can choose from a wide variety of courses, although some programs, such as courses offered by the Jacobs School of Medicine, are not available to 60 and Over Auditors. That still leaves plenty of room to select fascinating courses such as Art History or American Politics. Students submit a program request form and obtain the instructor’s signature for the courses they want to audit. They can then get a permit for on-campus parking. Browse the catalog here.

Villa Maria College also offers adult education through its Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning Center. The college presents seminars, workshops and noncredit courses with an emphasis on intellectual and personal growth. Find more information here.

IMAGINE Greater Buffalo Lifelong Learning is based on the idea that lifelong learning in a democracy is everyone’s responsibility. Established in 2009 as a digital enterprise and network to link volunteers and lifelong learners, the organization presents programs, lectures and events including the Eighth Buffalo Day @ Chautauqua from July 8 to 15. This year’s theme is “A Crisis of Faith? An Opportunity for Reflection,” a series of discussions that explore identity, religion and community.

Most of the local school systems in the area offer adult programs, but they are geared mainly toward career education. Maryvale School District in Cheektowaga, however, offers hundreds of courses during four sessions per year. Online courses include Discover Digital Photography, covering use of a digital camera and editing software; Secrets of Better Photography, focusing on camera settings and features and taking better pictures and a Beginning Writer’s Workshop to improve creative writing skills. Explore hundreds more classes here.

Those who are comfortable with technology and working on their own can access online courses through many of the nation’s finest universities. Coursera partners with top schools including Yale, Columbia, MIT, a number of state universities and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art to offer classes that feature prerecorded videos, quizzes and projects. Often students connect online to debate ideas, discuss materials and get help mastering concepts. Students can earn credit for some courses or even get a degree. Among the courses currently being offered are basic computer programming from the University of Michigan, the brain and neurobiology at the University of Chicago and Buddhism and modern psychology from Princeton University. Learners can brush up on English grammar and punctuation at the University of California Irvine’s virtual campus, or learn beginning Chinese at Peking University. With more than 2,000 classes to choose from, everyone can find an interesting course. Most courses require payment of a fee.

EdX and Udacity also offer online courses that are very popular with adult learners. EdX, a nonprofit online learning center started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides many courses for free. Udacity began when two Stanford University professors offered an online course in artificial intelligence. Together they give students from all over the world lots of choices for affordable online learning.

At Canterbury Woods Williamsville, retirement life is all about choices. From the comfort of stylish apartments and lovely patio homes, residents can participate in many programs and activities designed to keep their bodies fit, minds active and spirits engaged. New residents receive a warm welcome in an environment that makes it easy to meet people and make new friends.

If you’d like to learn more about this innovative continuing care retirement community—the first of its kind in Western New York, please give us a call at 716-929-5817.

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