The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Granite State College is a program dedicated to providing “learning for the fun of it” for curious adults age 50 and up. Known for its cost-effective courses in a wide variety of subject areas, OLLI members enjoy education without homework, tests or prerequisites – all fun and no drudgery.
The noncredit courses range from a single session to as many as eight weekly sessions, all offered on the Zoom platform this term. Pricing starts at $20 (member price) for a single session which allows members to take a chance on a topic they may be curious about but don’t want to invest significant amounts to try it out. Multi-session classes add $5 per session to the base single session cost (e.g., the eight-session course is priced at $55.)
Often members are surprised and delighted at the intriguing information they acquire, so recently members were asked to provide one new thing they had learned in a class. Responses were published in the March issue of OLLI’s monthly newsletter, Outlook.
Fatal Miscalculations: The Hurricanes of 1900 and 1938 (Michelle Langa, instructor) produced these two nuggets.
■“The information about the influence of the Spanish-American War on the 1900 hurricane”
■“How the various egos involved in the beginning of the National Weather Service left it completely incapable of providing any advance warning.”
Changing the Culture Surrounding Mental Illness (John Broderick, instructor) left two members with these insights.
■“How easily folks drift into substance abuse and there is always an underlying cause … folks try to help but are not able because the underlying cause has not been addressed.”
■“It’s so important to both people with loved ones who have a mental illness and to those who suffer from mental illness was, ‘You didn’t choose to have this, and you don’t deserve to have this.’ So many people, even those of us who suffer from a mental illness, believe that it is a weakness; a moral failure. We have heard from others, and even told ourselves, to ‘snap out of it.’ Knowing that I didn’t choose this, that I didn’t cause this, and that I don’t deserve this is empowering. It makes it okay for me to ask for help. It is not my fault.”
Introduction to Vegetable Gardening (Ed McMonagle, instructor) offered these surprise tips:
■One tip that Ed gave us that I thought was very cool … you can use a meat thermometer to measure soil temperature! (Important for seed germination.) What an obvious neat idea that I never thought about.
■It is not really good to grow my garden as I do with black plastic covering the ground to prevent weeds. It can become too hot for the plants when the temperature really rises as the growing season progresses. I will change to multilayers of newspaper as Ed suggests.
■I learned that rototilling the soil is not good practice.
Novels 1984 and Brave New World (Merle Luber-Friedenberg, instructor) brought out one reason many OLLI members treasure the opportunity to revisit what they learned in high school or college:
■“In our first class, we discussed the first part of Brave New World. I had read the book many years ago as a young man and didn’t relate the book to the happenings in the world at that time or, in fact, my own existence. This is probably because I was an apolitical nerd. I enjoyed reading science fiction and appreciated the creativity of the various writers but didn’t relate it to the world I knew.
■“There was much discussion in the class about the relevance of the book to the times in which it was written and we then discussed how it applied to the science and politics of today. One thing I learned was how in tune the various class members were to what was going on in the 1930s and beyond including today, and how the mind of Aldous Huxley conceived of things that were beyond the science and knowledge of his time. This, of course, tracks my own growth as I evolved and paid more attention to the world around me.”
These nuggets came from courses in the first week of the spring term and it’s obvious from the variety of topics that OLLI members are rarely at a loss for some offering that appeals to them.
Courses coming up in the next few weeks follow the profile for variety: Standing Up to Racism, Homer’s Odyssey and The Arabian Nights, How Hitler Came to Power: Can it Happen Here? F. Scott Fitzgerald: Chronicler of the Jazz Age, Quantum Computing, Independence Corrupted: How America’s Judges Really Make their Decisions, Lighting the Way for Airmail, GDP: More Important than Happiness? and Paris Noir: Bricktop, Baker and Porter. All have seats available and additional information can be found on the OLLI website, olli.granite.edu.
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