Session C

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The programme has changed: these presentations were moved to this session on feb 27th:

How can dialogue enhance the learning experience of older adults (45+) in Higher Education?

Chris McAllister, Poulter, Grace

The proposed presentation represents an attempt to encourage discussion of on-going research into the interface between Critical Educational Gerontology (CEG) and Academic Literacies (AL) theory and their impacts on pedagogic practice in teaching academic writing.  CEG encompasses critical social gerontology and feminist, political economic and humanistic discourses, thus creating a lens through which the complex obstacles faced by older adult learners in Higher Education (HE) may be viewed.   An academic literacies (AL) approach confronts these complex obstacles by making the requirements of academic writing explicit; encouraging a dialogical approach which demystifies the essay writing process.  We propose that the conflict created by uncritically accepted academic assessment practices can only be resolved when this is recognised and  challenged through teaching framed around ‘dialogues of participation’ emerging from the confluence of these two theories.This has been particularly productive when applied to the teaching of academic writing to older adults engaged in Tertiary Lifelong Learning (TLLL).  We have found that engagement in critical dialogue gives our learners a voice; this is particularly true for those whose previous educational experience may have been discriminatory, disrupted, disadvantaged, at odds with traditional educational practice or very diverse. For this group of students the challenges of academic writing can be the root cause of their alienation and academic failure.  Our findings propose that although university teachers may frame their critique of student academic writing and consequent poor achievement around what they describe as structural, linguistic or technical transgressions, they are often criticising the ways in which their students use writing to construct and frame meaning.  The presentation provides an analysis of our previous and past practices and qualitative research, indicating how we arrived at our current position.  Our on-going research projects focus respectively upon (1) reinterpreting adult and TLLL theory and practice in relation to older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) learners’ experiences and (2) the learner identities constructed for older adults currently engaged in TLLL in HE.

Learning in later life and the U3A movement in Norway

Sigvart Tøsse

In 1991 the United Nations declared some principles for older people concerning independence, participation, care, self-fulfilment and dignity. Since then, lifelong learning increasingly has been defined as a strategy and a political commitment of learning for all from cradle to grave. In this paper the focus is on the rationale for older people’s participation in lifelong learning which from the 1990s has been repeatedly stated in a number of policy principles and documents from UN and EU. In the first part of the paper it will be argued that the implication of these political and educational endorsements of later life learning is to extend the area of adult education beyond the concepts of pedagogy and andragogy into the inclusion of the adjacent gerontology disciplines. Probably a disciplinary platform of a new kind of educational gerontology is needed? The points of departure for this discussion will be the demographic changes, research on the wider benefits of learning for elderly as well as life span theory and research which include the third and fourth age.The second part of the paper deals with the Universities of the third age (U3A) which since the 1970s have become an international movement. U3A is here taken as a prime example of a great cultural and educational activity in which older people continue their own self-directed lifelong learning. Based on a mapping of the Norwegian U3As and similar senior learning institutions or associations the paper presents the first results of a research project on the implementation and the development of senior learning associations in Norway. The study demonstrates that approximately 80 associations have been established. They are found all over the country and meet a wide range of the elderly’s demand within the fields of education, culture, health, travelling and learning of ICT.


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