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Learning: A lifelong purpose

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The start of the school year is always an exciting time and serves as a reminder that we all must continue learning to be healthy individuals, productive workers, informed citizens, and supportive family members and friends. As our kids return to school, adult learners can also return to class by taking advantage of the variety of courses offered through LifeLong Learning-San Marcos (LLL-smtx).

The importance of being an active learner never ends and may be even more critical as we age. Yet according to a 2017 AARP survey, a surprising 50% of adults over age 40 reported they do not learn new information every week.

Research suggests that participating in group learning can help reduce cognitive decline while increasing older adults’ motivation, confidence, independence, and quality of life. In a 2019 study by Wu and Strickland-Hughes, adults 58- plus years old who participated in an average of 15 hours of classes per week for 18 months increased their thinking and memory abilities comparable to those of 40-50 year olds.

The pandemic has further highlighted the importance of participating in learning activities as a positive way to deal with covid mitigation measures. The June 2020 Health Affairs blog notes that we are social animals and losing contact with others can lead to loneliness, depression, increased eating and alcohol consumption, and health issues, including high blood pressure and inflammatory responses. In those with existing chronic illnesses, these isolation outcomes can exacerbate and hasten the progression of illness.

To help offset these challenges, LifeLong Learning-San Marcos offers a variety of courses allowing adult learners to meet new people, stimulate their minds, and learn new information and skills. As a life-long educator in public schools and at Texas State, I launched LLL-smtx in 2014 and draw on the expertise of individuals in the community to offer year-round, free/low-cost, and easily-accessible presentations, courses, and tours. Serving over 3,000 learners since its inception — with offerings as diverse as bird-watching, genealogy, the art and literature of Texas, quilting, and beer appreciation — LLL-smtx exists to provide a place of shared camaraderie for the love of learning and is as socially pleasurable as it is enriching.

LLL-smtx offerings are typically held in partnership with the San Marcos Activity Center and Public Library. Due to the pandemic, courses moved to Zoom, enabling people from across Central Texas and, indeed, the country to participate. During the pandemic, LLL-smtx has delivered 37 courses, tours, and presentations serving over 500 participants. Based on a recent survey, the quality of these offerings averaged 4.5 out of 5.

A new slate of Fall courses includes current issues and related jargon, art across the ages, mythology, and happiness, to name a few. Most classes remain on Zoom, but a few are offered in-person when physical distancing can be accommodated. Visit the LLL-smtx website ( for course and registration information.

Returning to school is easy with LifeLong Learning-San Marcos… please join us.

Dr. Marianne Reese is the Founder and Director of LifeLong Learning-San Marcos.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666