What's the meaning of lifelong learning? How does it affect your overall physical health and mental well-being?
Attend "The Benefits of Lifelong Learning for Wellbeing," lecture at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Barrick Museum Auditorium to find out. The free University Forum lecture by UNLV sociology researchers will include some of the latest findings from a collaborative research project with UNLV's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
The presenters are Takashi Yamashita, assistant professor of sociology; Jennifer R. Keene, associate dean of college of liberal arts; and Erick L?pez, a doctoral student in sociology.
Here's a sneak-peek of their findings.
1. The higher your educational attainment, the better your health outcomes. But learning is beneficial for your well-being at any age.
On average, American women and men live to be 81 and 76, respectively. However, years of formal education makes a tremendous difference in longevity. For example, after age 65, women without a high school diploma have a 36 percent higher mortality rate (chance of death) than women with a college degree in later life (Hummer & Lariscy, 2011).
This means that lifelong learning and can help reduce the education-related health gap among adults. By continuing formal educational attainment throughout one's life, some of the health declines typically associated with aging can be ameliorated. For example, cognitive decline can be slowed down or even reversed by actively engaging in learning activities (Shaie, 2005).
2. Learning begets more learning.
We know that learning has various benefits for physical and mental health over the course of one's life. Research shows that people who have more early learning experience are more likely to be engaged in learning activities later in their lives (Brady & Fowler, 1988). On the other hand, people with little learning experience early in life have much less chance of engaging in learning later in life. But that pattern doesn't have to continue. It is literally never too late to engage in learning experiences.
3. The competence connection.
How do education and learning influence health and well-being? One of the main pathways is competence. This refers to your knowledge and skills for economic productivity as well as for everyday activities (Desjardins, 2004). Learning improves your overall competence, which improves access to health resources. You'll have greater knowledge about healthy lifestyles and about how to efficiently use our health care systems. And this leads to more healthful behaviors, such as quitting smoking and increasing exercise. But there are many more links between learning and well-being. Join the lecture to find out more.
4. Why do older adults want to be engaged in lifelong learning? Brain stimulation.
We usually think about the children and younger adults (such as students) want to engage in learning activities. Young people go to school to prepare for a career, because of social pressure from parents, peers, and for their own personal development. In comparison, little research has been done on the reasons why older adults want to learn. At the moment, we know that one important reason is to maintain and promote brain health and cognitive function (Boulton-Lewis, 2010).
5. What does lifelong learning actually mean?
The concept of lifelong learning is about 85 years old (Clark, 2005). It refers to any learning activities that continue throughout one's life. It goes beyond formal school education. Considering that, in our contemporary society, new knowledge is constantly and rapidly evolving, it's easy to argue that we all need to be lifelong learners.
Brady, E. M., & Fowler, M. L. (1988). Participation motives and learning outcomes among older learners. Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly, 14(1), 45-56.
Clark, T. (2005). Lifelong, Life-Wide or Life Sentence?. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 45(1), 47-62.
Desjardins, R. (2004). Learning for well being: studies using the International Adult Literacy Survey, Institute of International Education Stockholm University, Sweden.
Hummer, R. A., & Lariscy, J. T. (2011). Educational attainment and adult mortality. In R. G. Rogers., & E. M. Crimmins (Eds.), International handbook of adult mortality (pp. 241-261). Springer Netherlands.
Schaie, K. W. (2005). What can we learn from longitudinal studies of adult development?. Research in human development, 2(3), 133-158.