Learning as a hobby – Metro US

Learning as a hobby

Expand your mind for fun — forget expectations

Rafael Brusilow/for Metro Toronto

Tony La, left, and Brian Lai are enrolled part time in the Information Technology Management program at Ryerson University. An increasing number of students are signing up for courses for the pure enjoyment of learning.

Interested in learning but stressed out about jostling for grades and results? Here’s a novel idea — why not do it for fun?

Most universities, colleges and learning institutes in Canada offer some form of continuing education and program administrators are finding an increasing number of students are signing up solely for the fun of expanding their minds.

Amanda Lee was pregnant with her second child when she decided to take a travel writing course at Ryerson University to take her mind off being a mom for a few hours each week. The best part of taking the course, she says, was not having to live up to anyone’s expectations but her own. “It was something I was doing for myself, so I didn’t feel that pressure to succeed,” explains Lee.

Her biggest worries were not about the material, but rather what her classmates might be like. “I thought, ‘Am I going to be the oldest one in the class?’”

Her nerves were abated when she found her class filled with students of all ages and backgrounds who just wanted to share in learning. Lee formed a bond with her former classmates and still stays in contact with many of them. Lee says the confidence she gained from graduating from the course has inspired her to keep writing and head back into the classroom.

“I’m definitely planning on taking more courses,” she said.

Cordelia Strube, an established author who teaches creative writing at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, says learning for fun or as a hobby can often be the purest form of education.

“You don’t have to make the teacher happy and you don’t have to get an A. In a sense, that’s what education should be — it should be about exploration,” says Strube.

She believes today’s education system tends to be too goal-oriented instead of promoting the value of learning for its own sake. Continuing education courses can fill a niche for people who may have already reached their professional goals and perhaps want to use learning to increase the level of fulfillment in their lives.

“I think it’s phenomenal that people have an opportunity to try different things without a degree hanging over their heads. You’re allowed to take chances, you’re allowed to fail. The excitement is in the journey, not the goal,” Strube said.