Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Peer Learning Partnership Hosts Open House

Peer Learning Partnership, a continuing education community for older adults at Anne Arundel Community College, is hosting its fifth anniversary open house on June 12 at 10 a.m. until noon in CADE219.

PLP was developed in 2004 to facilitate intellectual enrichment for retired people who still have a yearning to learn new things.

“I first learned about it in one of the college catalogues,” said PLP member Randall Pack. “There was a class featuring physicist Richard Feynman and I was just fascinated that it was a course being offered.”

Pack soon found out that the course was taught by his peers and he found that he was extremely intrigued by the concept of fulfilling his intellectual curiosity with peers who are experts in their fields.

It started out with only 12 members but now has upwards of 140 members – most of which are retired, said PLP President Bill Daney.

Enrollment has been steadily increasing, partially because many baby boomers are beginning to retire, said PLP curriculum coordinator, Krista Hamel.

“The concept is very appealing to that age group,” said Hamel. “Really, it’s a wonderful social outlet for them.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Anne Arundel County alone had more than 55,000 residents over the age of 65 in 2006, many of which still have the need to remain active, said Daney.

Though, Pack insists that being a member is extremely interesting in the sense that many of the people involved are former professors or fairly educated.

This is not a group of people who got tired of playing shuffle board,” said Pack. “For example, when we’re discussing a novel, you’ll find someone who knew the author!”

Even though members are not being graded, there is a fair amount of preparation that goes into presenting new information, teaching a class, or partaking in a discussion, said Pack.

For example, one of the benefits of being a PLP member includes participating in “Fridays with Friends,” a lunchtime discussion group that meets once a week. Each week of the month has a different theme: current event discussions, current topics in science, book discussions, a travel group and a film discussion.

Most of the discussions try to reflect what the members are learning in their individual classes and each member takes turns presenting new information.

“When we did current topics in science, I had the chance to present on the 2008 Nobel Prize in Science,” said Pack. “I was just fascinated by the discussions we had. It isn’t like that movie, ‘Ferris Bueller’ when he says ‘Anyone? Anyone?’ You almost have to tell people to settle.”

The social aspect of it is very beneficial too, said Pack.

“It’s an incredible group of people,” said Pack. “When you get a lot of people who have been taking the same classes and meeting once a week, you get to know them!”

PLP offered eight peer taught classes in the spring and hopes to offer more as the enrollment increases.

The open house will allow prospective members to learn about joining, the costs, and get a chance to get to meet other members. Registering for classes offered by PLP requires signing up for PLP membership as well. Each class costs $26 and PLP has a membership of $26 per semester. For more information about attending the open house, contact Krista Hamel at 410-777-1806.

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