Retirement Life

Thu, 10 Aug, 2017Danielle McCarthy

4 best resources for learning in retirement

4 best resources for learning in retirement

Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant, supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live!

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo at age 87.

Ongoing learning is so important in retirement. Not only as a means of keeping the mind active and in good health, but for ensuring that you stay both interested in, and interesting to, the people around you.  There is much pleasure and satisfaction to be gained from staying abreast of trends and developments in an area of interest and engaging in hearty debate with like-minded people.

When we think about learning in retirement, our thoughts often go immediately to university and the assignments, exams and late-night swotting that involves. And you might ask yourself, do I truly have the energy for that?

Before you dismiss further education, take a moment to understand the different learning options out there.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), TED Talks, University of the Third Age are just a few. What are these programs you might ask? Read on – one of them might just inspire you!


You’d like to learn but don’t have the desire to commit to three years full time study (or six years part time) – there are too many other things to see and do in the world!

Well, have you heard about MOOCs (massive open online courses)? MOOCs are free online courses delivered by university that are available to any interested person. They are offered by some of the most prestigious universities, such as the Trinity College of Dublin and Harvard, and delivered by renowned academics. Why not learn from the best! A MOOC typically involves weekly video lectures, quizzes and tests, although they don’t provide academic credit. The beauty is that for MOOCs there are no entry requirements, you simply need to have an interest and a desire to learn. A good resource for finding out more is at Good University Guide.

TED Talks

In terms of informal learning I can’t recommend TEDTalks highly enough. TED is a non-for-profit organisation driven by the goal to spread great ideas via online talks covering almost every topic imaginable. They are short and you can hear from people who are truly passionate about what they do. Popular TEDtalk include ‘How great leaders inspire action’, ‘Your body language may shape who you are’ and ‘Underwater astonishments’. The great thing is that new presentations are constantly being uploaded and you can learn in your own time by visiting the website, typing in a topic or speaker and finding a presentation that piques your interest.

University of the Third Age (U3A)

U3A recognises and celebrates the third age, the age of active retirement, and that which comes after the age of youth and work and raising a family. At U3A there are no academic requirements for membership and no exams, it is simply a worldwide self-help organisation promoting learning for personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Don’t be fooled by the absence of formal requirements, as when you bring together highly passionate people, the discussion that ensues is energetic, focused and robust!

Don* has been a member of the U3A for five years now and is consistently impressed with the calibre of students, who gather weekly in a lecture theatre. He has recently completed an Ancient Civilisation course which he shared with a retired barrister, engineer, teacher, and librarian. Not only was he inspired by the course content but learned so much more about other professions and the experiences of others.

But what about university…?

Before you talk yourself out university as an option, consider the facts. Unis are no longer the sole domain of teenagers drinking, lounging on grassy knolls and skipping lectures (though there’s still plenty of that happening!). Rather, an Australian university census found that in 2011 the average age of university students was almost 27 years. This is quite a contrast to what you might imagine (peers who could pass as your grandchildren) and it means that there must be a lot of people in their 40s, 50s and above to counter those school leavers. Further to that, don’t assume that younger students won’t be interested in you (or you in them), as you can learn a lot from each other.

Learning in retirement can take many different forms it can take and it’s a matter of finding what’s right for you. The added benefit of ongoing learning is the social connect aspect - the opportunity to interact with like-minded and accomplished people who challenge your thinking, expand your mind and remind you of your value.

Remember, you are never too old to learn.

For more great retirement advice please visit Megan Giles’ website.