TL;DR – This is how you do it.
There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And then again, there’s also the Chinese saying of 活到老，学到老, which literally translates as live until old, learn until old. Or, more formally, lifelong learning. That is the sort of belief that we need in this day and age.
But some people think that it’s difficult. Can we really learn new things when we are old?
Here are three ladies who haven proven to us that it can be done.
1. Masako Wakamiya made her first app at 81 years-old
Sometimes, we think that old people and computers just don’t mix well. Some of us think that old people just don’t get computers. We laugh at the way they use just two fingers to slowly poke at the keyboard. We laugh at how they seem afriad that the computer will blow up if they poke at it. But if we think that all senior citizens are incapable of using the computer, we would be dead wrong.
Mdm Masako is an 81-year-old lady from Japan. She first learnt to use the computer when she was 60. This year, at the oh-so-tender age of 81, she made her first iOS app. The app she created, called Hinadan, is a game that shows people the correct way to place their traditional doll displays.
Mdm Masako also has a blog that features tutorials that teach people how to make art with Excel. She also publishes vlogs from her travels to the Mediterranean and New Zealand. Think that’s all? Nope! Not your average senior citizen, this energetic lady also runs a club for other retirees on active ageing.
Here’s her speaking at the TEDx talk in Tokyo, where she talked about active ageing in the digital world:
2. Gyoza-maker by day, by night…
Mdm Sumiko Iwamuro is a DJ. If you don’t think that’s impressive, maybe we should tell you that Mdm Sumiko is 82.
She has been making gyoza for 60 years. Twelve years ago, when she was 70, she started mixing music. She actually spent a year at a DJ school. Her motivation? Her son needed some music for his birthday party. And the rest, as they would say it, is history.
Mdm Sumiko now spins DecaBarz and superclubs around the country. She goes by the moniker Sumirock. She describes the style of her music as “fundamentally techno” with garnishes of “jazz, French chanson and a bit of classical music”.
Young people who attend the events she spins at describe her events as having “a certain energy that goes beyond age that can equal any young person’s”. And they think she’s cool!
Here’s more of Mdm Sumiko:
3. Getting a bachelor’s degree at 67
It’s not just Japanese ladies who are showing us that age is no barrier to learning new things. We have Mdm Rokiah Omar from Singapore. She’s 67 this year. She’s a retired parking attendant. She had always wished that she had attended a madrasah – an Islamic religious school – when she was a child.
And at the age of 67, she fulfilled her dreams. She recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies. She did not finish her O-Levels. But she did get her first diploma in the Arabic language in her 40s. She said:
“I didn’t want age to be an obstacle to my learning”
Mdm Rokiah isn’t going to rest on her laurels. She’s going to continue learning. She is currently pursuing a certificate in Islamic psychology. She’ll start a working towards a master’s in Islamic studies next year.
Lifelong learning – it can be done
Or more accurately, in this day and age, it’s something that we MUST do. There are now different pathways and options under the SkillsFuture framework to assist each and every Singapore on our journey of lifelong learning. All the universities in Singapore have set up or are in the process of setting up centres dedicated to lifelong learning.