Where the grass roots in rocky Maine makes for lifelong learning

There's lots of talk in education these days about "lifelong learning" and creatin a "learning society." Up here in Maine they're not just talking. A spirited band of innovative educators is turning the state into a place where every adult can learn whatever she or he most wants or needs to know -- conveniently and cheaply.

"We're not just offering a few more courses in this or that," explains Pam MacBrayne, spark plug of the program which operates out of several campuses of the University of MAine. "Ours is a grass-roots approach. We've set up learners cooperatives in isolated, rural communities. The cooperatives get people excited about learning, help them plan their further learning, plug them into opportunities they might never know about otherwise."

At the Mid-Coast Adult Learning Cooperative office in Rockland a young woman told me: "I registered with the coop both as a tutor in French, Latin, and English, and as a learner about sheep and the wool business. I've not only had contacts in both of these areas, but also happened to meet a local guitar teacher at the co-op, who has since made an arragement with my husband, an architect, who will help him design and build his new home in exchange for guitar lessons."

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