Reliving the joy of learning
Dr Tan Thiam Soon is a strong advocate of lifelong learning and its benefits. A retired NUS professor, the 75-year-old has a wealth of teaching experience under his belt. Having taught at the university for 30 years, he retired in 2000 and now has the chance to take on the role of the student and enjoy the fun of learning.
Acquiring new knowledge for personal wellness
After retirement, he decided to pick up some relevant skills to keep active. He felt that it was an opportunity to pursue different areas of interest and successfully completed a six-year part-time course on TCM. He went a step further and put the knowledge and skills learnt to use through volunteer work for patients at Chung Hwa Medical Institution located in Toa Payoh.
Just last year, he took up a variety of courses under the National Silver Academy (NSA) from different community-based organisations, which include mindfulness, aquaponics and magic skills.
Dr Tan took up the NSA Fun Games & Leisure Magic for Retirees course at NUSS last year. He intends to use some of these new tricks to entertain his friends and check out new tricks done by his peers.
"I can derive joy and a sense of satisfaction from learning new things so I would like to continue to do so for as long as possible. Through the courses taken, it has also helped me find like-minded peers to connect with,” he said.
From learning to practice
Dr Tan enjoys keeping connected with classmates through social media and Whatsapp. In fact, his magic course classmates had set up a chat group after the class, to stay connected and share their experiences and magic tricks. Four of his classmates have since qualified as members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) Singapore branch. In addition, a group from his cohort of retiree classmates have been regularly performing at nursing homes, day care centres and charity organisations as part of giving back to the community.
After having learned and practised mindfulness, Dr Tan recognised the importance and benefits of mindfulness in the daily life of an individual. He wanted to share his experience of his mindfulness journey, so he enrolled and completed all the courses as part of the requirements to becoming a certified trainer at Brahm Centre. He is now conducting the Mindfulness Foundation Course in English and Chinese at Brahm Centre.
Dr Tan is a busy retiree; besides catching up with his reading, doing household chores and travelling, he continues in his pursuit for new knowledge. In recent years, he has been travelling more with his retiree wife, who learns watercolour painting as a hobby. He joins his wife whenever she goes for her overseas painting trips with her painting class, and the travel experiences have aided in helping them to cultivate better mental wellness.
He encourages seniors to take part in NSA courses, and to tap on these available subsidies for seniors and opportunities to experience the joy of learning.
“There are many course providers under the NSA network and various learning locations to choose from, you can surely find something to suit your learning needs,” said Dr Tan.
**Special thanks to Dr Tan Thiam Soon who accepted our interview, we wish him all the very best in his lifelong learning journey.
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