"Always Learning": The Next Work-Out For Boomers & Gen-X?

CJW, July 27, 2010 6:55 AM


" . . .This is the largest study ever to confirm that hitting the books could help
you fight the symptoms of dementia in later life.
. ."

We always like to see reports and studies which support "life-long learning", a concept that has sadly become meaningless by its overuse as a sales pitch term used by too many schools in their marketing programs.   So for now we'll use the term "always learning."   It reminds us - educators and parents alike -  that learning is everywhere around us and shouldn't stop once we leave those formal settings and hallowed halls.

Will it take the fear of dementia for us to fully embrace the always-learning mantra?  Can always-learning become the new bottled water movement?  (Or, has the recent heat wave made us a little punch drunk?)

But really, when we came upon this study via BBC News, as reported by Caroline Parker about the effect continuous education has on the brain and the relationship to dementia, it's yet another great testimonial for us to keep learning new tricks, even the oldest dogs.  A few excerpts:  

"Education in early life appears to enable some people to cope with a lot of changes in their brain before showing dementia symptoms.

It also showed that, for each year spent in education, there was an 11% decreased risk of developing dementia."

From a 20-year Eclipse collaboration study combining "three European population-based longitudinal studies of aging:

"Professor Carol Brayne, who led the study, said: 'Education is known to be good for population health and equity.

This study provides strong support for investment in early life factors which should have an impact on society and the whole lifespan.

This is hugely relevant to policy decisions about the importance of resource allocation between health and education.'

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'This is the largest study ever to confirm that hitting the books could help you fight the symptoms of dementia in later life. What we don't know is why a longer education is so good for you. . . .'

She added: 'We now need more research to find out why an education can make the brain more 'dementia resistant'. Until then the message appears to be stay in
school.' "

Link to full article here.  For related articles from The Daily Riff, "Can O'Reilly & Olbermann Stop Our Brains from Aging," with link here and "The Grown-Up Brain:  Better Than The Younger Version?", with link here.

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Education must, then, be not only a transmission of culture but also a provider of alternative views of the world and a strengthener of the will to explore them.
Jerome Bruner, cognitive psychologist, author "The Process Of Education"

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