ALIROW - Learning in Retirement in California and neighbouring States

Bob Heilman, immediate past President of ALIROW outlines the principles he feels inspire the LIR movement. ALIROW, the Association for Learning in Retirement Organizations (ALIROW) was founded in 1984 by LIRs (Note that the acronym used in the EIN paper is ILR-Institute for Learning in Retirement. ALIROW is not a member of EIN) in the far western states of the USA to meet the needs of existing LIRs which needed a better way to inter-connect and share solutions to questions of growth and service to members.

ALIROW is a completely volunteer organization,. Costs of membership, which are nominal, are paid by dues from LIRs. Member LIRs originate from a variety of college and university sites, though some of them are not college-connected.

Although members do not share a uniform educational policy, several principles stand out as shared by most of them.

Foremost amongst these is the idea that an interest in learning characterizes humans from birth to advanced chronological age.
A structure which serves such interest is beneficial
People who have reached maturity have already gained from their own learning and so have much to share with others, -including a passion to continue the quest for learning.
Shared Learning
An important LIR model is that the traditional classroom student-teacher model, although found in some LIRs, is superceded by a shared learning model, more like the advanced seminar found in many graduate-level college classes.

It is not required that LIR members hold formal college degrees, - only that members share a passion for continuing a learning trajectory that may include a diversity of directions, - and a willingness to share this passion with others of like mind.

However, seasoned persons are too often unaware of their own gifts or abilities and have spent lives too far into the shadows to find joy or comfort in leadership positions. To emerge takes practice and encouragement.

Finding and polishing seminar leaders is a challenge for every LIR. Too often LIRs solve this problem by hiring active or retired teachers who are more than willing to re-create the professorial role within an LIR. After all, why not use an expert? This approach too easily by-passes the great advantage available to the active participant-to become one's own teacher and then share the learning.

This is the challenge to every person and to the LIR 'movement' (if there is such a thing ) - to encourage the mature and seasoned person to recognize their own talents and help them to learn to share these with persons in their own community.