Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Vision of Continuing Education: Truly an Investment in Yourself

The Vision of Continuing Education
Darrel L. Hammon

Continuing education fosters the “building, challenging, strengthening, and enlarging” of oneself to do things never done before, accomplish goals and tasks set previously but never fulfilled, prove that you can do something despite the challenges strewn along the way, rise to a challenge that seemed way too hard at first, change the way you look at the world, commit to the philosophy of lifelong learning, and widen your vision so that you can see a far off.

The vision of continuing education focuses on the 78-year-old GED graduate some years ago who said, “I am getting my GED because I know I will be a good example to my grandchildren.” Donned in traditional cap and gown, she received a standing ovation as she walked across the stage and waved to her family before she took her place among her fellow graduates.

The vision of continuing education highlights the 30 or so more mature adults who all trundled to Lewiston, Idaho, to participate in one of the many available Elderhostel activities. These adults, many of them 60 and over, came from across the country and participated in a week-long course that introduced them to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. Their education might have ended several decades ago, but their learning never stopped. Instead, they sought opportunities to learn because, as one of them commented, “I love to learn.”  

The vision of continuing education expounds Jaime Escalante’s phrase, “Free, free, free, knowledge; bring your own containers.” Continuing education is all about that phrase. Knowledge oozes out of every corner and crack. Often it just seeps by us or hangs from luscious baskets within our reach, but sometimes we do not take advantage of the proliferation of knowledge around us. Or we fail to pack around our own containers, our buckets. Or worse, just the bottoms of our buckets are covered, and we say “I’ve got all the knowledge I want.”

The vision of continuing education connects people with educational opportunities, developing programs to meet the demands of the swirling marketplace, and preparing students to live and work in a global society, no matter how old you are or where you live or what modality you are utilizing.

The vision of continuing education is about access—to distance and online learning; to youth and summer camps, to language programs such as Spanish, French, and Chinese; to evening and off-campus programming at different locations; and to a cadre of incredibly focused programs and courses for youth and adult learners. 

Continuing education is continually asking the right questions: Is what we are providing meeting the needs and desires of our members and beyond? What does the growing member community want and need?  And finally, what more should we be doing to extend the Utah Valley University (UVU) experience beyond the boundaries of the physical campus?

In essence, learning through continuing education is inextricably linked to investment, an investment in ourselves and our families that yields high benefits and interest, maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will yield—intellectually, spiritually, and mentally. We may have to bend our backs, stretch our minds, work midst wind and snow storms and tauntings of others, and maybe even make a few sacrifices. But that’s the vision of continuing education: providing opportunities to learn, helping others become better people, enlightening their minds, and establishing a true opportunity for learning because in the end, it’s all worth it. 

Thus, invest now and often and keep your bank account growing and your buckets filling up.