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About Third Age Learning

The Third Age Network (TAN) is a network of third age learning groups in Ontario. Third Age learning usually occurs in the retirement years when first and second age responsibilities (childhood/education, and family/employment) are completed. It is for those who want to keep their brains and bodies active and meet stimulating new friends.

There is now extensive evidence showing that social interaction and community involvement – cornerstones of lifelong learning groups – are directly associated with better mental and physical health.

In addition, research in the UK has shown that there are economic benefits of intellectual stimulation for older people:

“Education can foster the self-reliance and independence of the elderly … thereby reducing the increasing demands being made on public and private resources.

Education is a major factor in enabling older people to cope with innumerable practical and psychological problems in a complex, changing and fractured world”

The term Third Age originated in France in the 1970’s, where courses for older adult learners were developed.  At the same time, similar concepts and programs were developing in many other European countries, Australia, China and Canada.

Third Age learning programs are now found in countries all around the world.  Some programs are loosely affiliated with a formal academic institution, while others are community based.

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The learning formats of our members vary from group to group and may include lecture series only, peer learning only or a combination of both. More recently, interactive video conferencing has been included as an alternative way of exploring intellectual ideas together.

The range of topics can be very broad: from opera to Canadian history to terrorism to international finance… and more.  Some groups offer courses that may consist of a series of 10 lectures; others have series that offer different topics each week. Peer learning associations are often facilitated by one of its members. Many include social events in their programs – film nights, walking groups, choirs, etc. as well as travel to local events and internationally.

Mission: To foster Third Age learning and share issues and solutions to common organizational challenges.

We do this by promoting the establishment of organizations that provide opportunities for older adults to learn in a friendly, social setting and by supporting adult learning organizations in this process by sharing strategies and techniques to accomplish this goal.