The concept of u3a evolved in France during the early 1970s, when increasing numbers of older people were beginning to seek further education during their years of retirement.
It was recognised that this third stage of life, which followed on from the two earlier periods of childhood and work/child rearing, could be the most fruitful for learning if suitable opportunities were available.
The approach adopted in France was to follow the style of the medieval universities which involved setting up communities for people who sought greater understanding through interactive learning. Hence the term University of the Third Age, now shortened to U3A — this shorter form conveniently avoids explicit use of the word “University” in the title which conflicts with New Zealand law.
The u3a dea spread rapidly through the Western World, and there are now hundreds of thousands of members of U3A in many countries.
U3A continues to be a concept rather than an organisation. Because of this, each u3a group is an independent body, even though regional and national networking structures have been set up in many areas. Although the idea of a community of learning continues to persist, individual groups have put this notion into practice in many different ways.
No matter where you travel you are sure to find a u3a in the neighbourhood!
The Aim of U3A
"Those who teach shall also learn, and those who learn shall also teach"
Peter Laslett, Founder U3A, 1981
Have you heard of Tiverton, UK?
They are now our 'twin' u3a in the UK!
Click on the right hand image to view one of their recent newsletters. They invited Browns Bay U3A to 'twin' with them.
We are unsure what the advantages to us will be but an exchange of ideas, a visit there if we get to travel again or access some of their more interesting monthly 'talks'.
We will keep you updated, in the meantime visit their website and have a look for yourself!