Lifelong Learning Breaks Out of School
Do you remember the song from Annie Get Your Gun –“Doin’ What Comes Naturally”?
You don’t have to know how to read or write
When you’re out with a feller in the pale moonlight.
You don’t have to look in a book to find
What he thinks of the moon and what is on his mind.
That comes naturally…
The song suggests that Annie and the folks in her town have never had any “schoolin,” so others think they’re “dumb.” But Annie protests. They can make money, raise a family, drink and procreate without even knowing how to write. Learnin’ doesn’t just come from books!
Furthermore, there’s no place or method to which learning is restricted. It’s not incarcerated in schools or libraries, confined to the Public Television network or the Internet. Learning happens when we stop our busyness to listen, watch and think, when we explore our world by walking fields, talking to new people, traveling to new places, and when we try our hand at something new. Today we call this “lifelong learning,” and everyone’s encouraged to engage in it so that they live a happier and longer life.
Many Coshocton folks are energetically involved in lifelong learning. About fifty of them met at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in February to hear Mark Hersman, Mansfield archaeologist and teacher talk about the Indian artifacts that can be found in the fields of Coshocton and the surrounding counties. I looked around the room and wondered what brings these people together. This was the classroom teacher’s dream-come-true. The “students” were brimming with enthusiasm and the desire to absorb as much information as possible in this 90-minute period. What is it about rocks and stones that accounts for this passionate interest?
Donna and Pat Keyes traveled from Guernsey County having read about the event in their local newspaper. They have collected artifacts for many years near their home and also in Licking and Pike counties. Donna described Pat as the “driving force.” She commented on what a great family venture walking the fields could be—but put forth the disclaimer that it had been less popular with her daughter than the males in the family. In their busy lives, they had gotten away from this activity, and they are now rekindling an old interest. Donna and Pat gain knowledge about local artifacts from reading and by connecting with older people who share their enthusiasm.
Debra Short of Dover also learned of the talk through her local paper. She has been interested in searching the fields for finds for a long time. She wanted to learn more claiming that she “wasn’t sure what she was looking for.”
Long-time teacher in the Riverview school district, Dave Woodmansee, brought a colorful collection of flint points. He and an acquaintance were identifying the different types of flint and speculating on the origins of each since some are not native to the area. All pieces were found at one site and represent a cross section of cultures and time periods.
All were invited to bring in their personal finds. As I perused the group during this informal time, I noticed that all were totally engaged, full of questions and ready to share their experiences and stories with one another. As folks were involved in this teaching-learning experience, a sense of community emerged--a community forged through shared experiences, interests and place. The room was resonating with energy and excitement.
Coshocton offers many opportunities to get involved with a community of lifelong learners. There’s the Coshocton Art Guild, the history club, the Footlight Players and the library’s book club, just to name a few. And what better time than spring to begin “doin’ what comes naturally.” It’s a great way to live.