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Curiosity never retires

Tallgrass Creek neighbors enjoy an array of learning opportunities

Created date

June 13th, 2018
Preparing to introduce a lecture from The Great Courses series are (from left) Joan Grant, Harlan Brockman, and Dee Berry.

Preparing to introduce a lecture from The Great Courses series are (left) Joan Grant, Harlan Brockman, and Dee Berry. The lectures cover various topics and are one of several learning opportunities Tallgrass Creek neighbors enjoy

It is 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and class is in session at Tallgrass Creek.  

The students, residents of the Overland Park, Kans., retirement community, have gathered to enjoy a DVD from a series of college-level lectures called The Great Courses. The series features a broad spectrum of topics discussed by top university professors.

Sessions are held in the community’s clubhouse living room on alternate Saturday mornings and can last several weeks depending on the topic. Typically, a different team of residents coordinates each topic and leads a group discussion after watching the lecture.

As one resident noted after a recent lecture, “It’s fitness for the mind.”

The group just finished a four-part series called “The Wisdom of History,” which focuses on relating modern times to past events. Other topics include a virtual journey through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an overview of the Middle East.

Many of The Great Courses DVDs were given to Tallgrass Creek by resident Gwyn Hall. They belonged to her late husband John a Ph.D. in psychology with a passion for learning.

Continuing education

Learning opportunities such as The Great Courses are coordinated by Tallgrass Creek’s resident-driven Lifelong Learning Committee. The committee consists of Don Blim, Jim Graham, Betty Jury, Lila Martin, Bob Montgomery, Myron Sildon, Rita Thomson, Harlan Stamper, John Miller, and Carol Murray.

Committee members gather monthly to select relevant and interesting learning activities, including hosting speakers from around the Kansas City area. The speakers always draw a big crowd.

“We look for a broad range of knowledgeable speakers and don’t stick to any one area” says Bill Lynn, past chair of the committee. “It’s important to find something of interest to everyone.”

Guest speakers include Darrin Jones, special agent in charge of the Kansas City FBI division; Carl Gerlach, mayor of Overland Park; Steve Rose, local newsman and political pundit; Julie Welch, local CPA and financial planner; and Fred Broski, well-known TV personality.

KU comes to Tallgrass Creek

People who live at Tallgrass Creek also enjoy presentations by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, part of the continuing education program at University of Kansas (KU). The Institute aims to create innovative learning environments with special focus on participants age 50 and older.

Tallgrass Creek is home to the two-hour courses held periodically during fall, winter, and summer and take place in the community’s clubhouse living room on Thursday afternoons.

Residents receive course catalogs from the Osher Institute several times a year. The classes cover various subjects and are led by professional lecturers associated with KU.

Earlier this year, residents enjoyed an Osher presentation led by licensed clinical social worker Sandra Lyke, called “Your Marvelous Aging Brain.” Lyke discussed how the brain offers new opportunities to learn and engage, throughout life.

Past Osher presentations include extensive overviews of entertainer Frank Sinatra, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the wives of U.S. Presidents during the Civil War.

Learning from neighbors

During monthly “Share Your Story” sessions, individual community members offer overviews of their lives and accomplishments. These lively gatherings are always packed.

For example, Dick Knapp talked about his former hobby acting as a clown for the Shriners organization. Jan Ericson, shared her musical career performing solos for George Handel’s Messiah. Jean Hise, a recently retired psychologist spoke at length about her work.

“We enjoy learning from each other as much as from professionals around Kansas City,” says Don Blim, also a past chair for the Lifelong Learning Committee. “We always learn something interesting and surprising we didn’t know.”

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