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Learning never ends

Longtime instructor welcomes new class, students at Brooksby

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

Becoming involved in the first Live & Learn curriculum at Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., was a natural decision for Ned Martin. An English and humanities teacher, Ned taught high school and lifelong learning, and is now a new member of the Brooksby community. In the weeks leading up to his Great American Short Stories course at Brooksby, Ned reflected on his experiences teaching 11 years of lifelong learning courses at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass).

Most fun teaching I ve ever done

Everybody there has read the material and wants to be there there s an enthusiasm that s natural, he says of older students, adding, The life experience these people bring to their understanding is just amazing. Ned became involved in lifelong learning when his wife Helen held a position on the curriculum committee at UMass. He began teaching literature once a week for five-to-six-week programs, typically choosing new subject matter with each course because, he says, I get to learn more. Ned began his professional career as a minister in what is now the United Church of Christ. After nearly three decades as a minister, he went back to school to become a teacher and continued on to teach humanities in a Cleveland, Ohio, high school for 11 years before he and Helen moved to Massachusetts. It s probably the most fun teaching I ve ever done, he says of lifelong learning.

Eager students

Ned learned of Brooksby s new lifelong learning initiative shortly after moving to the community in September and meeting Community Resources Lead Coordinator Fran Gerrior. Gerrior convened the resident task force that helped organize the program. Nearly a year in the making, the first Live & Learn curriculum offered nine courses including Ned s given for and by people living at Brooksby. About 140 people who live at Brooksby attended the registration and information event, and 40 enrolled in Ned s four-week literature course. Brooksby s course selection ranges from language to philosophy and a travelogue of American national parks. Ned s class last month discussed four short stories over four Monday evenings. Literary criticism is different from reading, Ned says. Rather than asking students whether or not they liked a particular piece of writing, he says, Let s understand it first and then decide. He hopes to teach future classes from the same anthologyGreat American Short Stories: From Hawthorne to Hemingway. Fiction is the way to tell the greatest truths, he says.

Retirement surprises

In addition to his own class, Ned and Helen have joined book discussion and writing groups at Brooksby, and Ned has also led discussions in a book group based in Andover, Mass., where the couple lived before Brooksby. Six years before moving to the community, the Martins joined the priority list, securing them a place in line for the Brooksby apartment home of their choice. When faced with the decision to buy or move from their Andover rental, the Martins instead chose Brooksby, wanting to make the move just once, Ned says. Erickson really has a good concept, Ned adds. When the Martins lived in Andover, their primary care doctor was in Jamaica Plain, outside of Boston. Now, you walk down the steps, Ned says, referencing the couple s decision to switch to Brooksby s on-site medical services. The Martins also take advantage of Brooksby s fitness center. Ned sings in choirs in both Andover and at Brooksby and plays the baritone horn with the new Brooksby Bass group. He also plays tennis and skis.