The Importance of Lifelong Learning


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” —Henry Ford

Ringling College of Art and Design and the Lifelong Learning Academy recently announced that the two organizations had agreed to merge, effective June 1. The Lifelong Learning Academy (LLA) organization will become the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy (RCLLA) and be incorporated into Ringling College’s Continuing Studies and Special Programs (CSSP), a unit of the College’s Office of Academic Affairs. The current Executive Director of LLA, Janna Overstreet, will assume the role of Director of RCLLA.

The Lifelong Learning Academy, currently housed at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, will offer classes there until the June transition. The merger was precipitated by the Academy’s need for more space because of expanded programs; USF Sarasota-Manatee needs more classrooms to accommodate its incoming freshmen and sophomore classes. Ultimately, the RCLLA will be headquartered and most classes taught at the historic Sarasota High School currently under renovation.

So, what is lifelong learning and why is Ringling College interested?

Lifelong learning is the umbrella term for advanced adult education programs that allow students the opportunity to enjoy learning for the sake of learning—no tests, no grades—just the joy of learning. Those enrolling in such programs tend to be passionate people who want intellectual and social stimulation. Sarasota is blessed to have a number of lifelong learning opportunities. The largest by far is the Lifelong Learning Academy with some 3,000 participants, but others in the community include Pierian Spring Academy and Sarasota Institute of Lifelong Learning (“SILL’) as well as programs at the Longboat Key Education Center and many more. People attend classes on all sorts of topics that are taught by experts who encourage participation and thoughtful discussion.

Ah, Sarasota, I love that we have such a large intellectually curious populace.
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