Warren Adler, author of The War of the Roses and many other books, at a Wonders of Age class
I was lucky enough to speak to a classroom of eager students at The Center for Learning and Living here in NYC. This extraordinary group of people were all senior citizens. Wednesday’s class “The Wonders of Age,” was an hour and a half of joy, wonder and bittersweet understanding.
I’ll be 90 in December so I guess they wanted to hear from a real-life dinosaur like me. A big thanks to Dr. Thomas G. Voss and Judy Langer for having me.
Positivity is key and I made sure to keep my lecture on a positive slant. We’ve all had enough troubles in our lives. I didn’t feel it was necessary to dwell on the negative. That being said, I wasn’t there to weave a web of sugar-coated lies. I always like to be frank, so I didn’t beat around the bush either.
Folks are constantly asking me what my secrets to healthy aging are. I never know how to fully answer that. Part of it is luck and the other part is will. I refuse to become irrelevant. It takes work, but believe me, it is worth it. Take a class. Learn something new. It’s never too late.
I advised the students to record their histories for their future generations to learn from. It could be recorded on audio or written down, but it’s important to keep that thread going. My one regret is that I didn’t ask my parents or grandparents about their lineage and family background. Don’t let those treasures get buried over the years.
I love hearing other people’s stories so the Q&A portion of the seminar was one of my favorite parts of the day. It was enlightening to share thoughts and listen to others. When a few people asked me about The War of the Roses, the topics of divorce and materialism came up.
We spoke about adolescent dreams that for some had dissipated. I never let my dream die and I encourage you to do the same. Retirement, as Judy Langer mentioned, is a great time for people to dive back into pursuing their true passions.
One student shared her experience with ageism, where her own doctor spoke to her children about her own diagnosis as though she wasn’t in the room, after I shared what I encountered while on vacation with my sons. I recall the frustration I felt when people talked over my head, assuming a conversation about fitness would have no room for me in it. She didn’t take it sitting down. She changed doctors. You have a voice – never let stereotyping or ageism silence your voice. Someone else shared an epiphany he’d had that altered the way he thought about himself. You’re never too old to have a realization
that can awaken and shake up your perspective. Keep an open mind.
To top it off, at the end of the class they surprised me with cupcakes and lit birthday candles, singing an early “Happy Birthday” to me.
I felt like I made a group of new friends who all understood what each other was going through and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Lisa Commager — American Short Stories
I stopped teaching ten years ago, but when I came to CL&L I felt as though I had dropped those ten years in one afternoon. It is so much fun thinking analytically about literature again. And it is very exciting to discuss ideas with people who are so interested and involved.
Lawrence Geneen — Politics 2017
Teaching at CL&L is so rewarding. The attendees are smart, challenging and appreciative, and they force me to achieve a level of preparedness no different than when I served on corporate boards. I walk away from every class with a big smile knowing that I have given them my best and they have done the same.
Robert Hensley-King — Film History
One of my weekly pleasures is teaching film history to mature students in New York City. The city is steeped in film history. From the early studios that predated Hollywood through the various filmic celebrations of this great city, New York is important to the movies. In my experience, New Yorkers love to recognize locations and discuss how various neighborhoods have changed over the years. Likewise, people throughout the world claim a knowledge of New York that comes from the movies.
Each Wednesday during term time, my class gathers at the Center for Learning and Living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Our time together becomes a great opportunity to exchange ideas. In preparing and teaching classes, I am challenged to share my scholarship in ways that give new insights to students who have a lifelong passion for cinema. In turn, our discussions strengthen my research.
For those who teach at post-secondary levels, this idea of research-led teaching is nothing new. It can be a great way advance scholarship. Likewise, the synergy generated engages student interest. What I find refreshing about this course, however, is the didactic environment created by life experiences and filmic passions coming together. The students often feel that the movies discussed are an important part of their own narratives.
This semester, we are looking at the ways in which protagonists, heroes and antiheroes alike, revise and subvert genre constructs in cinema. We all love the way in which complex characters make us rethink how we see and understand the world. Such characters, of course, remind us of the power of film. Likewise, they tell us that it is fine to be human.
Magee Hickey, TV news reporter
I love talking about my career in local TV news to the CL&L program students. They are such a thoughtful group and ask the most probing, intelligent questions. It reminds me of why I like to do my job in the first place – because there are viewers out there like these men and women!
Irwin Hochberg — The Middle East
My participation in CL& L is motivated by my desire to impart a level of information to my students which will enable them to more fully assess issues in the Middle East. I hope that this may help them shape their views on the issues without pre-disposition of political motivation.
Pilar Rotella — Literature
Teaching at the Center for Learning and Living has been and continues to be a positive, rewarding experience. For many years I taught undergraduate and graduate students at several academic institutions throughout the United States (Chicago, New York, California). After retiring from full time teaching, I started to teach courses in the continuing education program at the University of California—Riverside and, upon returning to the East coast, at Marymount Manhattan College and New York University. The transition to CL&L was both smooth and welcome. The Center has provided me with a refreshing change of pace and with the opportunity to explore a variety of topics and issues with interested and interesting students, highly motivated, eager to learn and to pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake. I intend to continue my association with CL&L as long as I can, that is to say—as we put it in Spanish—“hasta que el cuerpo aguante.”
Rita Satz — Teacher and CL&L board member
Rita has been a CL&L board member for years, since our time at Marymount College. Inspired to write poetry at a CL&L workshop, she became a newly published poet at age 92. Click on the link to see her being interviewed by Ronnie Eldridge on CUNY TV.
Alan Steinfeld — Maps to Reality
Dianne Stillman — Education in Turmoil
I love teaching law to laypeople. Since retiring from practicing law and high school teaching, I’ve searched for a venue in which to get back to teaching. I’m so glad I found CL&L. What lively discussions and great questions!
Louise Terry — “Golden Years” on Film
I love teaching at CL&L because of the students. They are motivated, knowledgeable and responsive. I learn so much from them. There is a warm feeling of family among the teachers and students. It’s a very gratifying experience to be a part of it.
Barry Wallenstein — Poetry for Pleasure
I am so pleased to be part of the faculty at the CL&L. In 1964, when I began teaching literature and writing at City College, I also conducted a weekly class at Cooper Union’s Continuing Education program. It consisted of mostly retired individuals. Offering lectures to this group, while I was in my early 20s, was a treat and a revelation – quite a contrast to my young students at City. I continued at Cooper until 1996. Many of the students at Cooper stayed with the class for years and after a while, it felt like family. Now, I too, am a senior and having the chance to speak before the CL&L students is again a special adventure. (It’s as if I’ve come full circle.)
Manfred Weidhorn, Makers of History
I enjoy teaching at CL&L because the audience consists of mature people who are open to new perspectives on life. Their attention is directed to the lecturer, who feels the excitement generated by their attentiveness and eagerness. They’re taking the classes because they want to, not because they’re compelled to for course credit.