Adults and the tug of BTS

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It's here. The time when stores swap suntan lotion for spiral notebooks, and reports about teacher shortages and classroom safety get top billing.

Back-to-school season brings to mind armies of yellow buses and pleas from kids for new backpacks. But adults feel the tug of the chalk board as well.

Heading off to school in the fall is an "ingrained habit," suggests James Smith, executive director of the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education.

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Mr. Smith and his colleagues have expanded two areas for the fall, their busiest season: The influence of the information age on our lives and that common cultural connector, movies.

They hope to lure people with talks by leading business authorities and panel discussions on Hollywood violence and independent filmmakers. But they haven't forgotten their typical fare, either.

Many people have a specific goal in mind when they seek out adult-ed classes: learn a language, develop a skill, meet new people.

Others just have the yearn to learn and browse catalogs for inspiration -or entertainment. "The Films of John Cusack" and "72 ways to Flirt," both current offerings in the Boston area, beg at least to be considered before the page is turned.

Smith says people sign up for courses because they want to stay abreast of the world's changes - as well as to voice their opinions and see where they fit in with the rest of society.

Granted, that can be done anytime of year. But there is something particularly inviting about it after being outside and unplugged for the summer.

*E-mail campbellk@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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