This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21, 2011 - grandparents matter

Who I am has a lot to do with my granddad. He dropped out of school in 10th grade to take care of an invalid mother, but spent the rest of his life reading and thinking. He's one of only two people I know who read the entire 11 volumes of Will and Ariel Durant's "The Story of Civilization." I got my love of books from him.

He loved debate, and was willing to take unpopular positions if he believed in them. He was the first person I met who would talk enthusiastically about any topic: religion, politics, history, sex. While he appreciated a good argument, he didn't seem to have much ego attached to it. He just wanted to learn something, either about an idea or about another human being. Ideas and people interested him.

Aside from the example he set me - curious, engaged, friendly - he also did something else. He told me I was smart.

It happens, in my home, that that was a powerful thing. I got a different message from my father.

But sometimes, when you get a clear and positive acknowledgement from someone you admire, it can save you. My granddad's respect for me became one of the foundations upon which my self-image was built. He made a difficult childhood easier. Grandparents matter.

And if you’re a grandparent, you can learn to be a better one.

I've written before about OLLI - the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Denver. In brief, OLLI offers three terms per year of classes. Each term lasts 8 weeks. You can sign up for an unlimited number of classes for just $100 per term.

The main audience for the programs is people over 50. The classes address everything from literature and writing to science, technology and math, from language workshops to current events. Fun!

OLLI has three locations: OLLI South serves the Douglas County area. It's located at 11004 Wildfield Lane, Littleton (off Santa Fe, near Titan). OLLI Central serves Metro Denver, and OLLI West serves the Golden area.

The new term is about to start up. For more information, call 720-339-1379, or look them up at www.universitycollege.du.edu/olli.

One of those classes is taught by a couple of friends of mine, Frank and Dix Morris. It's called "Discover the Power of Presuppositions."

The course offering states, "There is a general assumption that senior citizens are loving (they're nice, give gifts and, possibly, leave an inheritance). A close study of the most effective seniors reveals them to be masters of communication who know how to effectively instill major messages."

The class provides left and right brain methods for thoughtfully placing affirming messages in the minds of others.

Class time includes concrete explanations, class dialog, examples of each new powerful phrase, take home material and simple assignments to be used with others so class members can experience how presuppositions actually work.

Explanation: "A presupposition assumes a reality before it has been proven." For example, if a teacher says to children on the first day of class that they will be an excellent group of learners, they will take that to mind. They'll try to live up to it.

Grandparents do this with grandkids. Great leaders use presuppositions all the time. As the Morrises tell me, the class could have been called "How to be highly effective in all relationships."

The class is on Tuesday mornings.

So whether you've got grandkids, are looking to make the world a little brighter, or just want to scratch an intellectual itch, why not investigate OLLI's offerings? You can get a sample of what they're like at four upcoming sessions:

Monday, August 1
10 am Tattered Cover at 9315 Dorchester St in Highlands Ranch
1 pm Lone Tree Library at 8827 Lone Tree Pkwy in Lone Tree.

Friday, August 5
10 am Parker Library at 10851 S Crossroads Dr in Parker
1 pm Phillip S Miller Library at 100 S. Wilcox in Castle Rock

LaRue's Views are his own.

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