The GATE Grundtvig Learning Partnership [Progn. 2012-1-GB2-GRU06-08455-2] examined current practice in respect of learning opportunities for older people that promoted and enhanced active ageing. Inevitably this examination involved intergenerational and mutual learning. As a consequence the partnership produced the GATE Guide to Active Ageing available at - http://gate.wikispaces.com.
However there are two questions which the partnership wishes to raise about this form of learning which is now very popular across Europe but still needs some reflection.
1). There have been many intergenerational learning opportunities, projects and networks in recent years but fewer focussing on mutual aspects of ageing or shared learning around ageing. Do you feel that that the claims that such experiences do bring benefits to our society have been justified?
2). This is a time of rapid change, economic uncertainty, a large reliance on technology, the emergence of social media as our main communication channels, and an apparent lessening of trust in politicians and decision makers at local, regional, national and pan European levels. Can you suggest ways (and provide examples) of how active ageing initiatives and strategies are (or can be) effective in allowing all members of our communities cope with these changes and remain economically and socially active?
How can education of older adults be transformed into inter-generational education.?
How to extend/transform older adult education to intergenerational learning practices ?
In Slovenia new intergenerational centres are being set up. Slovenian third age university has traditionally been intergenerational without saying it. It was set up by experts of dofferent generations putting their knowledge, culture and experiential knowledge together. A basic format being study circles there is a lot of intergenerational learning. The project each-one -teach one is also about intergenerational learning. Now I wonder which programmes and contents of older adult education could be transformed into attractive intergenerational learning practices.
I’m putting together a research proposal. My interest is in the role of the ‘seniors’ print media (print media targeted at older people) influence on seniors lifestyle choices especially health, volunteering and activity.
Can you suggest experts in this or related fields I could talk to or can you suggest other contacts in Europe or elsewhere?
Thanks and regards
Journalist – Have A Go News – Perth
I aim to retire before I am 80
Is older people(s volunteering non-paid work, a leisure time activity, a leisure time professional career or something else.?Is it important to know it while devising and delivering
an educational programme for older volunteers.
The new European project kindly supported by Europaen Commission within the Lifelong Learning Programme has just started. We opened up a Facebook page with the same name and immediately we gathered reports on EU films feauring old age and older people. Yes, cinema is a strong vehicle of stereotypes and it somehow determines what the prevailing image of older age will be and how old age will be dealt with. It reflects and it creates cultural practices of old age. The first quick analysis of the proposed films has shown that old age is treated mostly as advanced age, a state where one needs help, where other generations determine older people's needs and their way of life, older people are mostly terminally ill, facing death, they are extremely emotional especially in relation to their grown up children, they are rebellious flying away from older people's home. This happens whenever films dealt with older people, when all generations are approached and older people's issues are treated equally, the situation changes. They are much more active, life goes on...Does it mean that we should focus more on the connections between generations, than on single age groups?
What is inter-generational learning?
Please find a message about Swedish project for seniors described on FB by my friend Alastair Creelman.
The project is based on a lot of volunteer work and is coordinated by the public libraries and lifelong learning organisations (folkbildning). They have been running all sorts of workshops and activities all over the country. A major focus has been to get elderly people online and have used school pupils to act as mentors among other tactics.
Sweden is becoming highly digital, as most countries, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for older people to carry out essential activities as they have done in the past. We have many banks that have no cash, buses don't take cash, rail travel uses sms tickets and web booking etc. Also more e-government services are on the way.
Summary in English is at http://www.digidel.se/eng/
As I view it, active aging is basically being old in a way that differs from that in the past. It is, of course, about staying employed longer...it is about undertaking leisure time activities (volunteering included since this is a leisure time activity par excellence) but it is also about being surrounded, being well connected with one's own and other generations and many other things. What is the part of older adult education in all this? Can one be excluded from major social activities from education and leisure time activities, from "vita activa" and still age actively?
Do you think that Social Software e.g. Facebook could support learning in later life?
Have you got any positive or negative experiences?
Can the process of learning itself can be an aim of older adult education. Namely, quite often I am not understood when arguing that older learners often have this privilege to learn for the sake of learning " No, education has always an aim. Education always serves an aim and this cannot be the educational process itself" I am often told. But I have seen so many older students coming to Slovenian Third Age University because learning is a pleasant activty, because learning for them is a way of life in all respects. What more can one wish for!
There is a rather great number of research studies dealing with the older people's needs to be met in education, but, to my knowledge there are not so many dealing with individual aims of older adult education.We know that older people get involved in education together with new social roles they take on within their family or society, we know that they get involved because in the past they could not study(compensatory learning) or because, but rarely, some social changes (new technology). We know that they would like to belong, they would like to understand themselves and the others. We know why but we know, they know less what for? Would you know of any studies specifically dealing with the aims of older adult education. Thank you.
• Older people become involved in learning for many reasons. Most probably because they have always been involved in learning through educational activities but the others because of personal reasons – some changes in their lives like health, leaving employment etc; others because of social or political changes in their world.
• There are strong testimonies from older learners of the difference their later life learning has brought in terms of confidence, being able to access required information to help making decisions and in decision making itself.
• Research evidence also shows that engagement in learning (at all ages and stages of adult life) can engender feelings of well being and feeling healthy.
• Much of the educational opportunities offered to older people today are framed by teachers and other professionals who tend to approach education from their curriculum standpoint and not necessarily fully understanding the needs, stage of life and perspective of their prospective older learner.
• There are many surveys of the needs, aspirations, successes and progression routes of older learners but they do not necessarily give us a perspective of the needs of ‘non learners’ who far outnumber the older learners.
• Any learning offer has to be geared to the needs of the individual and many of those may be associated with their age or stage of life.
• There are strong movements towards empowering older people and encouraging their healthy ageing but they do not usually utilise the power and potential of education to help older people manage their own lives, create their own empowerment agenda in terms of the issues they need to address or define for themselves their own healthy lifestyle.
• Education and learning for older people needs to much more closely aligned to the other aspects of political, social and economic life which wish to create for older people a much more positive and productive society in which they feel valued.
• If learning was oriented to the individual needs of the prospective learner then there would be less need to consider gender issues. These individual needs must also reflect cultural, national, class, race, gender issues and early school experiences (success/failure, gender segregation, age of leaving, extended opportunity, etc).
• The changes in our communities across Europe have had a detrimental effect on the provision of ‘locations’ for working class men to engage with others within their communities.
• When gender specific learning opportunities are created then they should be based on the locations where men/women gather. Cafes, sports facilities, etc. However these opportunities should only be seen as first steps to encourage (not coerce) people into other forms and locations for learning and/or other community activity.
Please let us know your opinion about these issues
• Funding for learning is decreasing across Europe – for all adults not just older people. Funding where it does exist is often provided by a range of agencies but is often short term and vested in those who provide the educational opportunities.
• Later life learning is the responsibility of a wide range of agencies, not just those in the education sector. The Grundtvig programme, amongst others, indicates that later life learning is facilitated by a wide range of sectors but there is little evidence of collaboration of progression across these sectors and agencies.
• There has to be a constant re-iteration of the very wide benefits of later life learning not just to the individual but to all sectors of society. These benefits are economic, social, health related, family and community. The research evidenced that is emerging needs much better dissemination alongside the evidence (testimonies) of older learners of the benefits they feel they have gained.
What information can you provide around the issues please?