Learning in later life: Universities, teaching, intergenerational learning and community cohesion
Keywordsuniverza, starejši, univerza za tretje življenjsko obdobje, medgeneracijsko učenje, skupnost
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AbstractThere are no settled concepts in the field of learning in later life. The paper begins by suggesting that generalised statements about older people’s learning are suspect and that the way in which we talk about it shifts over time. In particular, there is a range of claims about methods of learning and teaching appropriate to older people but most have little support from empirical research. The paper then focuses on the evaluation of a small innovation project, funded by national government, at Lancaster University, 2009-10. The project sought to involve members of a local University of the Third age group in learning activity on the nearby university campus, partly using undergraduate teaching provision. It aimed to test ideological reservations within the U3A group about association with a public institution of higher education and about mixing the ‘purity’ of self-help learning for older adults, in the British U3A tradition, with more formal methods of learning. The outcomes of the project evaluation suggested that most older learners participating valued their opportunity to use university learning resources and that the British U3A ideology did not inhibit them from doing so. It also suggests that the University benefited from the presence of the older learners and that the surrounding community potentially might have done. A brief discussion of implications for intergenerational learning, community cohesion and marginalised older people follows. The paper concludes that British universities should and, perhaps, could relate more dynamically and emphatically with the provision of opportunities for learning in later life.