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Silver students

BBC NEWS | Education | Learning in the third - and fourth - ages

You're never too old to learn, so the saying goes.

Until relatively recently this was little more than a hollow cliché for most retired people, for whom access to education was very limited.

But since the 1960s various movements - colleges, home-based courses and even a special university entirely for those of the "third age" - have started.

It is easier for pensioners, given a little effort, to learn than at any time before.

Hundreds of thousands are taking up the offer - there are now officially more than 600,000 learners over the age of 60 in England alone.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said: "They are overwhelmingly doing part time, non-vocational courses which don't lead to a formal qualification.
"There is a very wide range, from yoga and aerobics through to painting, ICT, modern foreign languages and basic literacy and numeracy."

And all very pleasent for them - I can sort of understand why we subsidise young students, they may contribute more to society eventually...But why are we subsidising this sort of stuff for wrinklies?


Well at least you don't have the problem described by Monty Python in Hell's Grannies -"This is a frightened city. Over these houses, over these streets hangs a pall of fear. Fear of a new kind of violence which is terrorizing the city. Yes, gangs of old ladies attacking defenceless fit young men."

Taxpayers shouldn't be subsidising any university or "further education" student of any age. Having to pay at least the substantial share of ones own education means that the student is much more liable to "take it seriously" and study with intent, rather than just fart around.

As for your "wrinklies don't contribute anything to society" put down, shame on you. From the October 2004 issue of "Director" magazine: "A recent survey showed that businesses started by people aged over 50 had more chance of success than those started by younger entrepreneurs."...
"Older entrepreneurs tend to be more realistic about what they can achieve, so are less likely to overreach themselves."..."Older entrepreneurs often have better people skills. Another cliche of entrepreneurship is that you have to be pushy and ruthless. Wiser, older entrepreneurs disprove this. You have to be focused, you have to know where you are going, you have to inspire that vision in others. These skills come naturally to some charismatic youngsters; the rest of us acquire them over time."

In October of this year, I read about a Florida baseball team who won the Las Vegas Masters Championship - in the over 80's division. They all looked great.

One of the things I disliked about England when I lived there was the "dead at 55", ageist mentality, to which you seem to subscribe. There are a couple of seriously old guys jogging past my window right now. I don't ever remember seeing that in London, or in Oxford.

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