Continued . . . . . Edie Heppler
The catalog announced the class preview, so I thought, “That will be perfect for me. I can listen to some of the instructors and pick a class.” I listened to a variety and picked two classes that sounded interesting. They were also reasonably priced.
Exploring Unexpected Classes
During my first quarter with TELOS, I took a science class on carbon dating and a social science class on philosophy. Both were way out of my field and depth. I remember commenting to friends about both classes that they were speaking a language I didn’t understand. I had never heard words like, “Egalitarian” or “Carbon dating.” I thought, “Oh Edie, you are way out of your league; this will never make sense to you. You’ve made a big mistake.” But, I just kept listening and took masses of notes. Soon the information started to click. I thought, now I know all of this stuff – I was so excited!
I’m still that way – excited about learning. I have found myself in classes that, at first, were way over my head. Now I know it’s just that the concepts are all new to me and, eventually, I will understand. The TELOS classes teach me how to think. I’ve taken a lot of history and enjoy it very much. I love when I learn how something new fits together with what I’ve learned in another class. When you fit two topics together it gives you a better global view.
I like history because it’s like storytelling, and scientific classes because of how things work; probably because I didn’t take much in high school. Science classes have been particularly challenging and exciting. The science of music in the class “Hooks, Riffs, and Earworms” was about how to engineer and pull apart notes and music, and how the brain works. I had never thought about music that way. After my husband passed away, I actually gave up music. Now, I understand it was because it takes me back to very deep memories.
Getting More Connected
I got involved with the TELOS Student Organization (TSO) early on. I think this aspect of the experience is very important, because this is what builds a community. I spent a year with a focused group of longtime TELOS members developing committees, and bringing a council together. I have had the honor of serving as president the past two years and am in my third and final year. I take three to four classes per quarter and arrange classes on my meeting days. I’m not usually a joiner, so I never thought I would be the person to step-in or step-up. At our age, it’s nice to know we can learn something new about ourselves and it makes a person feel empowered.
Making good friendships at this age is not something you expect, either. I never expected to find a cache of similar people with whom I would form real friendships/bonds. The important parts of what I’ve gained have little to do with classes – though I love taking them – and more to do with meeting people. We don’t talk about our aches and pains and our troubles; we do talk about politics! We’re more apt to talk about something we are learning in class or our community needs. Of course we talk about other things too — books, plays, movies, what our kids are doing, but the link is deeper than surface conversation.
This program has made me realize how much I truly love to learn; it’s intoxicating. I didn’t know I would love these things that much. Lots of people don’t realize I wasn’t a college graduate, so I feel like I’m getting my college education through TELOS. It’s great because I get to only take the classes that I want to. I have some very smart friends, so the program has given me more interesting things to talk about with them. The classes also make you a broader person. I wish I would have gone sooner; it would have made me a broader person earlier in life.
Continuing with TELOS
Baby boomers are retiring, so there’s nothing but growth ahead for the program. All areas are being expanded. The program is always looking for instructors; many instructors are so thrilled to get in front of us; we love to listen to them. We want to hear what they have to say, which is important for instructors. They get a lot of joy from teaching these classes.
Education is not just about learning a trade, it’s about expanding horizons in your mind. I also feel as though I’ve become more of a well-rounded person. I have a rich history and am blessed in many areas with an interesting life. TELOS has added another dimension, and made it more colorful. I’m grateful to the program and the people who worked so hard to build TELOS.