“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
The announcement for an event called the Polyglot Conference popped onto my screen, and I was really intrigued. “Polyglot” was a word I didn’t know, and I feel like I know lots of words.
I love words, I love grammar, and I love language. Polyglot wasn’t in my vocabulary … yet.
Researching the term, I discovered that a “polyglot” is a person who not only loves languages but can actually use several languages. I laughed as I considered that my ability to speak both English and Pig Latin coupled with my limited knowledge of French and Spanish would probably leave me unable to qualify as a polyglot today.
I do love learning and reading, though, and with that on my side, Dr. Seuss says that my travels can begin.
Traveling to Santa Clarita, Calif., I learn of Doreetha Daniels, the oldest graduate of College of the Canyons. In late spring of 2015, Ms Daniels graduated with an associate degree in social sciences. Doreetha Daniels was 99 years old when she earned that diploma. She had lived through a lot of life: the end of World War I, the entirety of World War II, the Nuremberg Trials, the independence of India, the building of the Berlin Wall and its fall.
Doreetha Daniels had not seen a college diploma with her name on it.
Journeying to learn more, I make a virtual visit to Fon du lac, Wisc. At 85 years of age, Willadene Zedan graduated from Marian University with a bachelor’s degree, academic honors and employment.
The widow, mother of five and grandmother of 15, had moved from her home in Michigan to be near her daughter in Wisconsin when she decided to spend some of her free time simply auditing a college class. Eventually, Willadene enrolled in the college to earn a degree. More than taking classes to stimulate her brain, she discovered she was completing college to begin a career.
When I turned in the last paper in my time as a student, I was sure of a few things: I would never have to write another paper, read another book that wasn’t just for fun or strain my brain through another exhausting project. Then I married and had children, and I read books because my children were reading them, helped with projects that exhausted all of us and have loved writing every word I’ve ever written.
Not all learning will come in a college classroom, though the two women mentioned earlier are great examples that it is never too late to attend college if that is where you’d like to do some learning. Opportunities for learning are all around us, and without ever leaving home we can travel to faraway places.
With the presence of the internet, I have discovered information and history that I never knew before. Did I not pay attention in Coach Carden’s economics class or Coach Allen’s history class?
When my son was telling me things he was learning in his physics class, I was fascinated and realized I was hungry to know more. Henry L. Doherty summed up my philosophy on wanting to learn: “Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”
If you are in school right now (between 6 and 25), you might be feeling those same things I felt when I finally graduated. At 70, though, you probably have a long life ahead of you, and there is so much more to learn.
- Learn to play an instrument: piano, banjo, guitar, violin, ukulele, drums, flute, harmonica
- Learn to knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch
- Learn to create art through drawing, painting, sculpting or photography
- Learn about the human body, what helps it stay well and what causes it to develop illness
- Learn about different cultures, what they believe and why, what they eat and why, what they wear and why
- Learn to communicate through other languages: English, Japanese, Mandarin, German, Spanish, Braille, sign language
- Learn to dance
Grateful for everyone who continues to share interesting information via the internet, newspapers and magazines, I’ve learned that it’s not enough to stop with what I read. I’ve learned that just because it is in writing doesn’t mean it is true, just because an important person says it’s true doesn’t make it true and just because it isn’t a peer-reviewed study doesn’t mean it isn’t the truth. Thank you to everyone who has shared truth and fiction; you have taught me to investigate for myself to discover truths, and that is another way we learn.
Choose one thing, just one thing, that you would like to learn in the next year and make plans now to make it happen. Though we are learning new things every day, it gives us a feeling of accomplishment to feel like we can point to something that we chose to learn. For me, I took piano lessons one year, learned to knit another year, took a dance class another year, and am now looking to learn a few new languages through a program called Duo-Lingo. It’s a good place for me to start.
Learning other languages will probably expose me to more words, and I love words. Learning how to say words in another person’s language opens up a world of opportunities for better communication. With learning comes knowledge and with knowledge comes freedom. Duo-Lingo, here I come! Au revoir, arrivederci, adéu,auf Wiedersehen, totsiens to all my polyglot friends.