In-person classes have returned for Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK) this fall. Students can learn about the Komagata Maru, literary designs, Burns Bog, incel violence, and more in the two-hour-long sessions.
TALK is a learning program for people over 50 years of age, or are retired who want to continue their learning. The cost of the courses is around $15 to $20, and the yearly membership fee is $10. Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructors who teach in the program can do so on a volunteer basis.
The program has been running for the past 20 years, with the goal of having a space for people over 50 to continue learning and feel connected with others in a classroom setting.
KPU wanted to make sure the environment wasn’t competitive, and learners could go at their own pace, says Jane Diston, chair of the TALK board of directors.
“Emotionally, psychologically, it’s important to keep learning. It’s a way of keeping connected. Keep your mind working,” Diston says.
There was a high spike in people wanting to take classes with them when the COVID-19 pandemic started, and she says there was another 50 per cent increase when they switched to remote learning.
Many of the students didn’t have much familiarity with current learning technology, but TALK provided them with support, Diston says. Students also didn’t have to deal with the hassle of driving to class and paying for parking. They were able to enjoy learning from their homes.
This year students will have the option of attending classes in person and online. Diston says she expects the COVID-19 safety rules in their classes to be the same KPU implemented for students on campus.
TALK offers courses during September and October until early December, and then again from February until April.
Linda Quan has taken a course with TALK in the Richmond campus, and during the pandemic she decided to take more courses because of isolation and the ban on travelling. Quan chose to use the money saved up for travelling to learn something new.
Quan was writing memoirs at the time and enjoyed the classes that focused on writing skills and the literary world.
“I’ve always found it very well done. Interesting topics and … you get different ideas from different people,” Quan says.
For people who are contemplating taking a class, Quan advises them not to be afraid or pre-judge as the classes are easy and interesting. For the online classes, students don’t have to show their faces or speak if they don’t feel comfortable doing so.
The registration for upcoming TALK courses is now open, and the online courses will be offered through Zoom. Any instructors who would like to volunteer can contact Diston. Volunteers can fill roles like course facilitator, board member, or presenter. They can also help to plan the courses offered.
When students pay for their annual membership, they can access the courses from September until August.
“It’s a good deal, and it’s really well worthwhile. It’s a quality product that you’re spending your dollars on,” says Quan.