Before we support or oppose any of the opinions whether or not age is a barrier to learning, I want us to critically consider and examine with all intent the meaning of the three noun words that made up the sentence – Age, Barrier and Learning.
The first among the words is Age. Age has to do with period, epoch, mature, grow old or become old. As a man, we should not forget that growing old or maturation is attached with a lot of responsibilities.
Now let us consider barrier. Barrier is synonymous with fence, blockade, obstruction, obstacle, hurdle and difficulty. Note that of all these synonyms, there is none of the words that can permanently put a stop to a determined mind. With determination, they are seen by winners as challenges and not the end of a road. I belong to the category of people that sees those words as challenges but not a final end. In fact the only final end that I recognized is death. And any body that stops leaning whether death or alive is death in as far as I am concern.
Learning on the other hand means education or acquisition of knowledge. If you agree with me that leaning is synonymous with education and can some times be used interchangeably without penalties, leaning could also be classified into three types like education: Formal education, ( formal leaning), non formal education ( non formal leaning) and informal education ( informal learning).
Now that these words had been considered and clearly elucidated one can now comfortably hold an opinion whether or not age is a barrier to education, however I will be indifferent to support or oppose in a hast because as a pragmatist, I believe in saying things the way they are but not the way they look like. Considering a formal leaning system which is an organized way of learning in a four wall of an institution, age could be a barrier. For instance, It is an extremely determined person that can enroll in a formal system of education at the age of forty. A forty years old person is already saddled with a lot of responsibilities which could constitute a barrier to leaning in a formal system at that age. At this age some of the barrier could be marriage, children, funding, as well as work.
According to Age Concern Northern Ireland policy position paper, older people should have equality of opportunities to further their education, develop new skills and talents. That means there are some opportunities that older people supposed to be exposed to or share with the young ones but are denied due to their age. Having said that, it is not enough to admit that age is a barrier to learn, because formal learning is just only one aspect of learning.
Since leaning comprises Formal, non formal and informal learning, learning could be seen as part of life, an occurrence that takes place from cradle to grave. It means that one starts to learn as early as possible until death.
Considering that learning is from cradle to death, we have to take some illustration to prove the point. A child learn how to cry, drink water and even suck breast right from the very day he/she is born. The child continues to learn like that until formal learning age when the child will be registered in a formal school system.
Age is not a barrier to learning because some people that dropped out of school due to one reason or another often register for public examination such as General Certificate for Education (G. C. E.) even at forty and still go back to school for further studies. If age is a barrier to learning, those that left school before 1970 in Nigeria would not have known how to use computers, because computers were not taught in Nigeria schools before 1970.
Further more, some people learn and acquire one or two skills even at their late fifties. It could be game, or any other pleasurable skills.
In addition, Professor Pat Utomi said in one of his media interview with AIT that a professor that did not attend up to two seminars per annual is not qualified to stand and lecture in any classroom because what he will be giving out to learners will be staled, obsolete and poisonous to the nation. According to him every lecturer, whether a professor or not should be sponsored to attend two or more seminars every year either by the government or his or her employer. This connotes that even as a professor who might have been forty and above is still mandated to learn by the law of dynamism.
Who? Whether infant or adult, young or old that has not learned one or two things today. A man dies right from the very minute he stops to learn. In the office we learn, in the religious houses, learning takes place, in the market places we learn, and even at home we learn. Traveling and tourism is also part of learning. How can age be a barrier to leaning when learning never stops until man dies?
In conclusion, you can agree with me after going through the points about age and learning hitherto elucidated that no matter age may try to be a barrier to formal system of learning, it is not enough to say age is a barrier to leaning. The only thing that is permanent in life is change, and it is only learning that sustained change in that status.