Looking for intellectual stimulation?

By John Nadeau | May 20, 2011

If you are someone who has a store of special knowledge and loves to share it, we have a wonderful opportunity for you.

The Creative Retirement Institute (CRI), the lifelong learning program at Edmonds Community College, has a cadre of faculty members who regularly teach courses to older adults.

But we are always on the lookout for interesting new instructors.

Very often, CRI faculty members are retired instructors who still love to teach. 

Typically, they have Ph.D’s or other advanced degrees from fine universities. Many, however, are non-academics eager to share their interests and knowledge.

For example, a retired bank vice president has taught a course on the Lewis and Clark expedition, a psychologist has conducted classes on music history, and a former telephone company executive has led classes in philosophy.

CRI offers non-credit, college-level courses that usually last four weeks.

There are no exams or grades, meaning that instructors never have to read papers or construct tests.

Students participate just for the joy of learning.

“One of the great things about CRI is that I have a room full of people who want to be there,” says Donn Charnley, who teaches geology.

“Students are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and eager to participate,” adds Judy Kessinger, retired from the Library of Congress. “In the discussion classes I lead, what I cherish most is the way we learn from each other.”

Regardless of the subjects they teach, all instructors echo those sentiments.

For ten years John James, who has a master’s degree in history, has run courses on classic films, jazz, and other aspects of pop culture.

He says, “My association with CRI has been one of the highlights of my career.”

Ah, yes, a word about subject matter: CRI courses deal with the humanities and sciences as well as current events. These are academic courses.

There are no “hands-on” courses like macramé, water colors, or cabinet making.

Neither are there “how-to-do-it” courses like better ways to lead meetings or tips on landscaping.

These are legitimate undertakings for senior centers, say, or church groups, but they are not what we do.

We stand for intellectual stimulation. Period.

That’s not to say we don’t approach that objective in different ways.

For example, retired Presbyterian minister Richard Gibson, who has taught courses on biblical history, says he wants students to look at the Bible the way scholars do.

“I talk about history and literature,” he says. “No proselytizing. I want to challenge students, encourage them to look for facts.”

And so it goes. If you would like to teach in this community of older adults who love to learn, we invite you to contact Lynn Lagreid, CRI’s coordinator, at 425-640-1806.

Yes, you would receive an honorarium for your services.

But don’t plan on getting rich.

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