Tip #309: Lifelong Learning at the Fourth Level

businesspeople in presentation

“The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am a member of the national American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). As a result, I receive a weekly email titled “The Buzz: Training News From Around the World.” It typically includes abstracts of 10 current articles on training approaches, experiences, and results.

The following article was recently posted in “The Buzz” and I thought the idea of creating a fourth level of education to prepare people near retirement for encore careers was absolutely fascinating. So, here it is:

“Harvard Wins Fans for Advanced Leadership Course”
Guardian (UK) (01/12/2010) O’Hara, Mary

Harvard University recently held a unique “fourth level” education experiment for people nearing retirement. “Regardless of what you came here with, you’ll be leaving with something that is going to continue to grow in directions that you couldn’t have anticipated when you arrived,” says Jamie Kaplan, the executive director of the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness, a charity in Maine, and one of the first 14 “fellows” to participate in the program.

The Advanced Leadership Initiative (Ali) is widely seen as a radical departure from the educational status quo. The program capitalizes on the expanding area of “encore careers,” where people nearing retirement actively re-train for a new vocation. Advocates for older people have praised the Harvard initiative, saying it is a model that the higher education establishment should give more attention.

The objective of the program is to develop an additional stage of higher education that harnesses the skills and experience of older adults, builds on those experiences, and catapults the graduates back into some of the most challenging social issues of the day. The current Ali program is limited to a single institution and a small, select group of people, but there is evidence that there is a greater demand for this type of program.

Ali was developed by Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who says the idea is to take people who excelled in their individual fields, put them through an intensive year-long program that incorporates seminars, leadership development, and individual projects to prepare them to re-enter the workplace in a public service capacity.”

It would be wonderful to see this idea spread to other institutions around the country and the world.

May your learning be sweet.

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