Third age education: go where you have never gone




American Gospel: What SOC&S Means

Bill of Rights: history & today

History of fliers & their craft

History of submariners and their craft

U.S. Submarines

Poverty myths & facts

Religions Toxic & Therapeutic

Pacific War Strategies

Health Care in the U.S.









































The third age is the time of life to concentrate on "becoming" at your speed and guided by your interests — to go where you have never gone before, but wanted to go. With no exams it is designed for enjoyment, intellectual stimulation, and active discussion of varied interests and issues of the day

Earlier education was for "preparing" and for "doing." "Preparing" is earliest learning to read, compute, be part of society, while in "doing" we learned the disciplines for careers. In third age education we explore how to become our best selves. For some this comes near retirement, though some begin earlier.

I have taught seminars at the University of Texas at Austin Continuing Education "third age" in SAGE, Quest, and Forum and at the Senior University in Georgetown, Texas.

If you are new to third age education or to these seminars, explore these materials. These may stimulate you to do your own studying and looking into third age programs near you.

Here are materials from the seminars I taught and am planning. I emphasize people — John Holland or Katherine Wright, who searched for answers often using scientific methods. Those who are taking a seminar or wanting to learn more can explore the links for further study and exploring.

American Gospel: experiments of American religious freedom
Until the colony of Rhode Island was established either church or government made their ideas and beliefs the law over all citizens. After Rhode Island church and government began separating, so governments did not establish beliefs. Only then could people believe freely. We study:

  • theoretician John Locke who broke new ground as he explored separating church and state;
  • almost martyr Roger Williams who built what Locke had proposed in the new colony of Rhode Island;
  • wordsmith Jefferson who wrote significant documents that we study, especially the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom; and
  • politician Madison who was skilled at getting legislatures to pass statutes like Jefferson's and who wrote a significant document on religious freedom.

We will evaluate this history, study the defining documents by the founders, follow word changes essential to defining religious freedom as the First Amendment was debated by the First Session of Congress. Covering events since, we review court decisions and current issues. To prepare for the seminar rent the film "Elizabeth" starring Cate Blanchett to view church and state issues. For more details see the syllabus where you will also find links to handouts, books, web sites, and slides.

Poverty: many myths and tragic truths
Poverty is more than lack of money, so that parents cannot support their children’s health and education needs or meet their own needs. Poverty is lack of health and opportunities for work with a future and with health benefits. More importantly for many poverty is systemic and generational, which means people use different language which often cripples their performance in schools, getting jobs, and keeping them. The social and physical environment is depressing. Preventive and routine health care is often unavailable. We will study and evaluate the many obstacles people face and a variety of tactics that may reduce poverty. Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty was a creative effort to change the roots of poverty on many fronts; it recruited poverty people's ideas and direction; we study how it succeeded and why it failed. To prepare check out the book Nickel and Dimed by Ehrenreich. For more details see the syllabus where you will find links to handouts, books, web sites, and slides.

The American Bill of Rights: inalienable and developing
That rights are inalienable has what meanings? America's founders believed as fundamental fact that these rights are ours because we are humans, people; they are not limited to citizens; governments exist to protect and affirm these rights.

This idea began with Magna Carta, developed through Henry II and others, and blossomed in the Enlightenment. But these rights were at first for the nobles, later for property owning men, then for all men of age, eventually former slaves, women, the voting rights act. How absolute are these rights? We review the routine denial of these rights in colonial times and after the Bill of Rights was ratified. It is best to develop laws, but often Courts have had to intervene to defend rights. Conflicts today:

  • Separation of church and state, evolution & sex education in the public schools; freedoms to be, to know, to search, to seek, to express: flag burning.
  • Second amendment has quite a history based on community militias that were similar to volunteer fire departments. We discuss why our culture is more murderous than others.
  • The implications of the right to privacy is disputed, and it led to the right to abortion and privacy in the bedroom among many.
  • When before a court we have many rights, and what they mean today; see the movie Gideon’s Trumpet.
  • Madison felt two rights were the most essential: the ninth is one but his other was not; what it was and the strange developments of that essential right.

See the syllabus for more information.

A century of flying: intrepid people & marvelous machines
In the one-hundred year history of powered flight heavier-than-air craft progressed from barely rising to rising too high to breathe, across a field to across the Channel to around the world. The Wrights flew after years of careful scientific research and experiments. We study men and women who experimented, designed, tested, and flew ever improved contraptions, including the Wrights and Glen Curtis, Thomas Sopwith and Geoffrey de Havilland, Jimmy Doolittle and Bill Boeing, Harriett Quimby and Amelia Earhart. Their machines overcame countless problems to safely fly people and cargo and to fight. Pilots at war were more important than their aircraft. We briefly study lighter-than-air craft. We will see the variety of peaceful and military aircraft as people pushed the envelope. To prepare for the seminar see the video, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines that used replicas of period aircraft. For more details see the syllabus where you will find links to bibliography, sites, handouts, and slides.

Quiet Victory: The men who fought in American submarines
American submarines in 1941 were the best in the world. The enlisted men were well trained and worked together effectively, but their skippers were trained to be over cautious, so many accomplished little the first year of World War II. They were replaced by aggressive younger officers, who for example, instead of showing only inches of a periscope to search, exposed several feet of periscope to see more. Aggressive skippers created new tactics, they figured out why their torpedoes failed and fixed them in the field. The enlisted men were so skilled that half became officers by the end of the war. They learned to use incredible intelligence that began in 1922, so by 1944 most submarines were vectored to targets. They sank two-thirds of all enemy ships sunk. They were given many new tools by scientists. These men were resourceful and solved problems thousands of miles inside enemy seas. They brought several nearly fatally damaged submarines thousands of miles to safety. For more details see the syllabus where you will find links to handouts, slides, books, and web sites.

A century of submarines from John Holland to Fast Attacks & Boomers
We will review amazing men who in the 17th to 19th centuries invented weird submarines, some of which killed their creators who did not seek to understand water pressure. David Bushnell succeeded in 1775 and H. L. Hunley in the Civil War, but John Holland in 1900 is the father of the modern submarine. After 25 years of scientific work to solve significant problems he built three working and controllable submarines. We will study dozens of people who developed designs, construction, and tactics as submarines evolved from harbor boats to masters of the deep sea. Some explored the deep, making amazing discoveries where tectonic plates meet several thousand feet down. Others developed nuclear subs and developed the technology and training so that dozens of American nuclear attack submarines, Fast attack subs followed the latest Russian missile submarines, some for over a month and a half without being discovered. Many others like the Parche tapped Soviet cables repeatedly for vital intelligence. For more details see the syllabus where you will find slides, books, and sites.

Toxic and Therapeutic Religion
Religions have provided comfort to countless people and have inspired famous and unknown reformers who worked for justice and peace. But religions have provided teachings and inspiration to violent individuals in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide bombers, and terrorists. What is this toxic and destructive force in religion, what is its source and inspiration, and how can religions be rerouted into work for comfort, justice, and peace? Toxic religion is clearest in its patriarchal control, attitude toward women and children, in its dread of movements toward equality and scientific inquiry, in its use and misuse of scriptures, in its demand for absolute and unquestioning loyalty and obedience, and in its attempts to control political power When religion co-opts government, the worst tyranny follows. Individuals find comfort and strength in religion while societies find justice as in the Civil Rights struggles. The U.S. often shows religious diversity and free expression. See the syllabus for more information.

Strategies for Victory in WW II in the Pacific
General Tojo, Japan's wartime premier, said the three principal factors that defeated Japan were island leapfrogging, the depredations of United States submarines, and the ability of our fast carriers to operate for long periods away from their bases. Each was developed by mid-level, creative officers in the 1930s; they implemented them when war came, and improved them with experiences. We will explore these strategies for the four central sessions of the seminar. The first session explores the mysteries of the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, and the closing session the decision to use the atomic bomb. See the syllabus for more information.

Universal Health Care in the U.S.?
Several factors underlie this seminar: the goals and values seminar participants will list and discuss; the large number of medically uninsured in the U.S.; the low quality of health care in the U.S. compared to other nations; the three models of universal care in modern, industrial nations;
factors such as defensive medicine and litigation that drive up costs; how efficient and effective is government administered Medicare; my experience with the state of Texas negotiating and administering contracts for services. Given these and other factors we will seek to find the best options for health care in America. See the syllabus for more information.

Copyright © 2003, 2007 John F. Yeaman