Too Old To Learn?


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How old is too old? And should we ever stop learning?

I came across this story last week and it made my heart warm. The headline said: “Scotland’s oldest graduate is bidding to enrol at Abertay University to undertake his ninth degree – at the age of 87.”

Wow‘ I thought to myself. I’ve put off my PhD for the past ten years. Maybe now is the time …

Alec Stewart from Dundee has completed a staggering seven degrees since returning to further and higher education aged 65, and attended Abertay’s Open Day to gain entry to yet another course. The pensioner plans to apply for either an Environmental Science and Technology or Criminology course to add to his incredible string of qualifications from both Abertay and the University of Dundee.

Degree after degree …

Since 2001, the ex-serviceman has completed an MA (Hons) American and French Studies, BSc Town Planning, BA Tourism Studies, BA European Economy Management, MA English Literature, BSc Sociology and an MA Philosophy. Last year, he took on an MA General Studies course.

At the age of 14, Stewart wanted to attend an academy, but his parents could not afford the fee. Instead, he went to work as a labourer in Dundee’s sawmill to help put food on the table for his siblings. Stewart said he knew he always had the intelligence, but didn’t begin his academic career until he retired from work.

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I would like to get another degree from Abertay because I enjoyed my previous time here, the staff were very helpful and I managed to get through a degree year … I took it a step at a time and because I don’t have any other commitments at my age I was able to do a lot of research for my degrees and I managed to get passes … I made a point that if I had failed overall at any time I would stop.”

This should be an inspiring story to us all.

We should never stop learning and Stewart clearly has the correct mindset for the classroom. And I bet he doesn’t misbehave in class either! … Well done Alec; my hat goes off to you!


One thought on “Too Old To Learn?

  1. We should never stop learning, whether that be in a formal, certified manner or an informal, self taught manner. As a teacher I see the ultimate goal as being able to give pupils the ability to engage with lifelong learning and to not turn them off from wanting to educate themselves. I plan to gain both professional qualifications and improve my knowledge in my hobbies (keeping classic cars and keeping a marine aquarium). All things we learn contribute to building our own knowledge bank.

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