GARRETT — Learning Link, an education initiative of Community Foundation of DeKalb County, held its semi-annual community meeting April 11 in Garrett.
“We recognize you enjoy learning, so we’re happy to bring you a special speaker this evening, Laurie Gray. Laurie’s from DeKalb County, is an award-winning author and an attorney, and I’m very proud to introduce her to you tonight,” said attorney Erik Weber, community foundation board member and a founding member of the Learning Link Steering Committee.
Learning Link’s usual community meeting format of action team reports was set aside for Gray’s presentation, titled “Cultivating Lifelong Learners.” Gray spoke of what it means to be a “lifelong learner” and what that looks like at different life stages.
Gray described lifelong learning as informal, in contrast with formal; voluntary, instead of compulsory; intrinsically motivated, not based on reward or punishment; driven by curiosity instead of curriculum; based on experience rather than lecture; and lastly, as play rather than worksheets.
Benefits of lifelong learning for the individual, Gray cited, were resilience, social skills and inclusion, active citizenship, an open mind, empathy and wisdom, and self-satisfaction and fulfillment.
Key components of lifelong learning, according to Gray, are curiosity, connection and intention.
“You have to be intentional about learning. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen,” she said.
Gray closed her presentation by encouraging guests to use their minds and develop their own thoughts, stating, “There’s nothing more useless than a mind filled with someone else’s thoughts.”
Guests received overviews from Learning Link action teams with data updates and what’s been accomplished in the past six months.
Melissa Eshbach, Learning Link Steering Committee Chair, closed the meeting encouraging the nearly 80 guests to:
• have a conversation with a friend or family member about something they learned at the meeting;
• talk with a committee member about joining an action team focused on early learning, kindergarten to 12th grade education, or adult learning, and;
• mark their calendars for Learning Link’s next community meeting, when teams will be reporting progress toward their goals, Tuesday, October 25 in Waterloo.
Learning Link, an initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, provides a platform upon which community members can work together to improve the quality of life for everyone in DeKalb County through continuous learning.
“Imagine if every DeKalb County child was reading at a third- grade reading level by third grade, and every student graduated from high school, ready for careers and learning beyond high school,” Eshbach said. “Learning Link efforts benefit everyone in DeKalb County by improving the quality of life, income levels and the personal fulfillment of individuals.”