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Monday, October 29, 2007

Senior Citizens Education Trend - Returning to School

Dr. Dan Canney's Cuesta College Adult Emeritus Class for seniors over age 50 provides a mentally challenging workout studying Greek history and "The Odyssey" by the ancient writer Homer.

This particular class is an example of a growing trend today in which seniors are staying active, involved, and mentally sharp by returning to college or by taking community education classes. The class is pictured above, with Dr. Canney in the middle, and some of the students gathered together on each side. (Photo by Kristi Gott)

Cuesta Community College, San Luis Obispo, California, has a roster of classes for seniors over the age of 50 listed at their website. The ages of the students cover a wide range from their 50's to the students in their 80's.

This Fall the class has spent three hours each Monday afternoon studying The Odyssey, by Homer. As one student explained, "we're seniors becoming Greek Scholars."

Dr. Dan Canney's accumulated lifetime of experience and knowledge makes the study of ancient literature challenging and fascinating. Some of the topics the seniors in the class study include the Age of Homer, the beginnings of the oral storytelling tradition, and the history of the Mycenaean Period.

The classes are free, and this Fall the Great Literature Class has been held at the Duna Vista Mobile Home Park, Oceano, California.

The Odyssey by Home is an epic poem that was sung by a Greek singer called a Rhapsode, who used a lyre. It's the story of Oddyseus' experiences when returning from Troy, and has numerous complicated subplots.

Dr. Canney's insight and humor make the class educational and fun. The students bring homemade goodies to share during the break. Class discussion provides time to discuss varying points of view and opinions.

Senior citizens taking classes like this have a chance to challenge themselves mentally, interact socially, and learn something new. There is lively discussion of the Greeks, and detailed analysis of Homer's writing techniques. For instance, the epic poem is written in Dactylic Hexameter.

Last Spring the students were led by Dr. Canney in a study of Milton's epic Paradise Lost, and students learned where many common references and words used today came from.

Learning, growing and exercising mentally are important aspects of staying healthy for seniors. Returning to college classes or other educational activities provides social interaction and mental challenges.

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