Learning In Retirement - IRP

By: Zev Melamid

(Preface-Articles on this web site have announced different research studies that may be of interest to seniors. The editors of this site decided to participate in one of these studies related to sleep apnea. We were to be part of the control group. One of our tasks for the research was to sleep overnight at the Medical Center wired up to about fiften electronic leads as well as volumetric tapes to measure brain waves, muscle movement and oxygen consumption. In the sleep lab, we had the good fortune to strike up a conversation with Zev Malamid, who was testing a mask to help deal with his sleep apnea. Among other things, he told us about the program he was enrolled in at a local University. We asked him to put it in writing. We at therubins want to express our extreme thanks for his efforts Hopefully one day you too will have an opportunity to meet him.)  

Before my retirement over ten years ago I kept asking myself what will I do with my time in retirement?

I have never acquired any of the hobbies most people seem to have; I don't paint, I don't play a musical instrument, no golf, no tennis, no cards, no chess.

During most of my active life I was involved in business, day and night. I was able to read some trade publications and the business section of newspapers and magazines, but seldom was there any time left to pursue my dreams to read some of the great classics or modern works of literature and poetry, or history and science, or improve my knowledge of foreign languages.

Suddenly, a short time after retirement, my wife and I discovered a wonderful way to realize those dreams. We joined the Institute of Retired Professionals, IRP. This is a group of a few hundred retired men and women from various walks of life, ranging in age from the 50s to the 90s who teamed up with the New School, a New York City university that provides the necessary academic environment, educational facilities, classrooms, and administration.

Instead of the traditional "teaching," the IRP draws on the vast talents, knowledge and experience of its members who are encouraged to volunteer to coordinate study groups either in the area of their expertise, or on subjects that are of special interest to them. A Curriculum Committee selects the study group subjects for each semester based on what was proposed by various volunteer coordinators and input of the entire membership.

Members are given an opportunity to choose 2-3 subjects each semester, plus one course from the vast list of subjects in the regular catalogue of the New School. The reading, analysis, and class discussions are so stimulating that I have not been bored for a moment since I joined the IRP.

While the IRP founders were the first to initiate the concept of "seniors teaching seniors" over 40 years ago, there are now numerous similar endeavors throughout the United States. I would encourage every retiree who has a keen mind and interest in pursuing studies in his/her areas of choice to join such a group if it already exists in their area, or to initiate the formation of such groups in association with a local academic institution.

For more information contact:

Institute of Retired Professionals-IRP
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212 229 5682

Information about local ILRs can be found at the Elderhostel website in the "Elderhostel Institute Network" section.

by Zev Melamid
posted October 2, 2005


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