12 September 2010

Mature Students: getting a degree, or a lifetime of 'continuing education'

A recent article in the Globe and Mail (Kickin' it old-school, Sept 3, 2010), about mature students going to university to get their degree, brought forth discussion about two kinds of education later on in life. Students are permitted to go to university after they have been out of school for a number of years, their life experience counting towards their acceptance into the undergraduate programs at many universities. The other kind of education for older, or mature students, would be for night courses and other types of 'continuing education' courses, often held at high schools or perhaps colleges as well as universities.

The 'mature students' you might run into at university, taking regular classes along with the younger students, might not always be mature, within themselves. Most of us at Western were not, as I recall, when I went there in the late 80s and early 90s. But we were older than most. Some of us might have had the proper qualifications, the high school graduation certificate, but it seems to me we were all lumped together, regardless.

The idea of 'continung education' encompasses all kinds of education that adults get into later on. It is, in fact, a concept that encompasses the cultural norm in Canada of being involved in education practically from birth to death. It is encouraged by one and all in our society to value education and to partake of it at every opportunity, especially as one grows older and has time on one's hands. To negate it seems to oppose all that we have been brought up to appreciate and believe in. But the reality is, don't expect that it will automatically improve your life. Mature students who return to get their higher education after years away from education may find it tough going trying to make use of their credentials afterwards.

Another recent newspaper article focuses on the new full-day kindergarten programs that are starting up in Canada, another aspect of the idea of 'continuing education,' this time, the decision being made by our government to introduce full-time education (or baby-sitting as some commenters wrote) for 5 year olds. Really, does anyone think our children need this? (See All-day kindergarten, National Post, Sept 8, 2010).

All right, so one more article is required at this point - on home-schooling, or 'unschooling' as some call it! (See More families are deciding, Globe and Mail, Sept 10, 2010). Viewpoints in the article and the comments section on both sides of the issue - worth a read, considering the cultural norm on education that currently presides in Canada. This article rounds out the discussion on education per se, as being of great value according to most people, though what the proponents of unschooling think of mature returners or continuing education classes I wouldn't know.

Finally, this article (The new girl power, Sept 9, 2010) from a British newspaper, The Independent, brings in gender, and youth. In these matters, there couldn't be that much difference between Canada and Britain. I agree - it is a young woman's world. That doesn't mean it's good for our world, and it may not even be good for women. If the women aren't working at what they're good at and enjoy, and if they're constantly struggling for something that's not going to happen - pay parity with men - will they ever be content with what they have achieved?

The baby boomers had better have something more substantial to tell the younger generation, other than the value of 'continuing education.' What have we achieved. What is our legacy? And what happens next?

All-day kindergarten is a waste of money
By Marni Soupcoff
National Post
Sept 8, 2010

Kickin' it old-school: The rise of the mature student
By Natalie Stechyson
Globe and Mail
Sept 03, 2010

More families are deciding that school’s out – forever
By Kate Hammer
Globe and Mail
Sept 10, 2010

The new girl power: Why we're living in a young woman's world
By Alice-Azania Jarvis
The Independent
September 9, 2010

See, also, this article added Sept 15, 2010.

Not everyone needs a debt-financed university degree to be complete
By Matt Gurney
National Post Full Comment
Sept 14, 2010

links updated April 12, 2012

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