EDUCATION WEEK: U3A's like minds

Historical interest: Carole Maclean, Martin Hanich, Bev Haywood, Mike Goodwin and Gwynn Roberts were among the more than 60 participants in a fortnightly history lecture on the Celts. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Historical interest: Carole Maclean, Martin Hanich, Bev Haywood, Mike Goodwin and Gwynn Roberts were among the more than 60 participants in a fortnightly history lecture on the Celts. Picture: Gene Ramirez

There's no homework, just like minds at the University of the Third Age.

The greater western region of the organisation for seniors' learning extends from Granville west to Penrith, and from Castle Hill and Kellyville through to Liverpool.

"It's supposed to be for seniors' ongoing education, but it's a bit more than that," said publicity officer Mike Goodwin.

"It encourages friendship, it encourages well-being. We have no homework, there are no exams, we don't give qualifications.

"It's just an atmosphere where like minds come and they're all prepared to talk and ask questions."

Mr Goodwin, a Blacktown resident, has up to 60 people turn up to his history lectures in Parramatta, the most recent on the Celts.

"Once you become a member you can go to as many classes as you like in Sydney, all for the one cost which is $50 a year — less than a dollar a week," he said.

"We have dozens of different topics. We've got storytellers, growing your family tree, Mandarin language, mysteries, calligraphy, the Ottoman Empire, discussion groups, the people who changed the world."

Baulkham Hills resident Diane Paterson worked for 26 years in the finance department at Macquarie University and joined U3A for the chance to discuss history and other topics she enjoys.

"Everyone at university has an opinion — and whether you agree with them or not it's stimulating," she said.

"When you retire you don't have a regimented day so you tend to waste time, and you get bored silly. But then you come to the conclusion that your brain really needs stimulation and coming here is the answer — to me, anyway.

"I get to meet all sorts of interesting people, the subjects are well researched, and it's very exciting to have an intelligent conversation."

Courses to try:

■ Tai Chi. Beginner, advanced and intermediate classes to help relieve stress, arthritis and blood pressure, are on Tuesdays from July 15, 12.30pm - 3pm, at Blacktown Westpoint, 4th floor, Alpha Street. Bookings: 9626 9683.

■ Canasta and Mah Jong. Practice and refresh your skills for both social games in a friendly group at St Anthony’s church hall, Aurelia Street, Toongabbie, on Mondays from July 7, 1pm - 3.30pm. Bookings: 9632 1039.

■ Music and song. Learn the theory and terminology of music, voice production and breathing methods on the fourth Wednesday of each month from July 23, 1pm - 3pm. At private homes in Carlingford, Toongabbie and Cherrybrook. Bookings: 9872 1230.

■ Psychs on Bikes, on Thursday, September 25, 2pm - 4pm, at Parramatta’s UNE future campus, level 1, 232 Church Street.

Psychiatrist Joe Dunn will talk about his 2011 motorcycle trip across the Nullabor, the bush, starting a charity and suicide prevention.

Bookings: 9621 1215, or email junekeith@optusnet.com.au.

■ The Ottoman Empire. Learn about the rise of the empire from the 13th century to its final days after World War I, including it’s political and economic importance in Asia and European conquests.

On alternate Fridays from July 11, 10am to noon, at the Parramatta Seniors Leisure and Learning Centre, Civic Place. Bookings: 9671 2284. 

 Book of the month. Discussion group on every fourth Monday from July 28, 10am to noon at the Parramatta Seniors Leisure and Learning Centre, Civic Place. Bookings: 9872 4467.

More course information: http://sydneyu3a.org.

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