Shirley Garrison carries around a thick, black notebook filled with meticulous notes. The 86-year-old history buff loves to flip through the pages, recalling the wide range of classes she's taken from a look at the first Mayor Daley to one woman's journey from her homeland to Ellis Island. Garrison especially enjoyed her most recent course, "Civil War Field Embalming," which took students back in time to a 19th century medical school lecture with actors playing a doctor and corpse. They're just a few of the non-credit courses targeted to seniors ages 55 and older through Harper College's popular Lifelong Learning Institute.
"It's wonderful to enjoy the knowledge of these instructors," Garrison, of Arlington Heights, said. "And there are no required classes, no textbooks, no papers, no tests and no grades. It's just about the love of learning."
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Harper will offer a free Program Preview from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 6, at the Wojcik Conference Center on the College's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. Check in begins at 8:30 a.m. Attendees can enjoy refreshments, meet instructors and check out 20-minute mini sessions to sample some of the fall 2014 offerings that explore arts, books, cooking, fitness, gardening, history, music, science, travel and more. Examples this year include "All That Jazz," "Food at the Time of the Bible," "Handwriting Analysis," "I'm Lost: Help Me Understand the New Map" and "Passing Assets to the Next Generation: Heirs vs. Uncle Sam."
Launched in 2003, the Institute now boasts more than 100 courses and one-session lectures each term at Harper and 10 partner sites throughout the suburbs. Most classes run during daytime hours Monday through Thursday. Among the fall options: an exploration of classic Chicago restaurants from Henrici's to Tru; a piano course focused on basic keyboard skills; World War II genre movies; and a look at the 1963 Chicago Bears and the fall of the house of Halas.
Garrison has happily worked her way through a cornucopia of courses through the years, signing up for six or seven classes each semester. "It's so important to keep your mind active and functioning," Garrison said. "I manage to learn something every time, and for me that's a big gift."
To reserve a spot at the Lifelong Learning Institute Program Preview, call 847.925.6300 or visit harpercollege.edu/ce.