Never too late to learn

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Course convenor Esther Grogan and chairwoman Bronwen Usher, both founding members of MALA, have encouraged people to continue to learn throughout life.
Camera IconCourse convenor Esther Grogan and chairwoman Bronwen Usher, both founding members of MALA, have encouraged people to continue to learn throughout life. Credit: Sound Telegraph/ Holly Thompson

A course encouraging the Rockingham community to continue to learn throughout life will start up for the sixth time in March.

Mature Adults Learning Association has helped to prove age means nothing when it comes to learning new skills or studying academically.

Those over 50 are encouraged to join and learn about a wide range of subjects, from flower arrangement and photography to philosophy and forensic science, in a stress-free and fun way.

Rockingham MALA founder and chairwoman Bronwen Usher said the program had run in Perth and then in Mandurah for a number of years, before one was established in Rockingham.

“Although the University of the Third Age operates here and does a really good job, it does things on a shorter basis than us,” she said.

“We were travelling a long way to get to the other MALA courses and so we figured we may as well set one up here to give people more options closer by. The learning we do is fun, there is no exams, no homework unless you want to, no tests, you just take what you want from it.”

Another Rockingham MALA founder and course convenor Esther Grogan said she was excited for a new term to begin.

“We start up on March 18,” she said.

“I am very excited to get back into things, we have grown to about 130 members now which is great to see.

“This year we would like to expand again, to reach people in Kwinana, Baldivis and other such suburbs.”

Mrs Usher said a lot of older people had to leave school at about 15 to work and had not been given the option to continue their education.

“A lot were very reluctant to join MALA classes because when we first started, the library we hold classes in was part of Murdoch University,” she said.

“They felt a little intimidated, a lot felt they were not quite clever enough to even be on campus, but we saw that change when they started learning and realised they were just as capable as anyone else. Leaving school at 15 does not mean your brain stops working, it just means the opportunity for higher education is not there.”

Ms Grogan said she had never been to high school but had trained in other ways and become a secretary to many “mad professors” over the years. “Now you need a university degree to do just about everything, but back then you could just learn on the job,” she said. “It has been nice to take some of the MALA classes myself and continue my education.”

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