Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ADED - Can we teach older learners?

Class tonight was about "the older learner." Of course older people can learn. In fact, learning helps rejuvenate the mind. Actively using one's brain helps keep a person sharp. From my own observation, it seems like those who actively engage in learning during their retirement years enjoy life the most. While no single, generic thing has been identified as the reason older adults seek learning, I'd offer that it might be they've figured out that learning makes them feel alive and connected. After all, learning is living according to some.

As the segment of our population which is 65 years of age or older grows, as is suggested will happen by some sources, the question of how to improve life for our citizens begins to shift its focus toward an older audience. What should we be teaching our older adults?


John Dorner said...

brainstorming mode:

Writing (maybe even blogging)

computer technology - from whatever level they are at. Some are experienced and others haven't touched a computer. Pick an application.

Woodworking/carving or crafts they haven't done.

Investing/financial management - 'playing' the stock market

Photography/painting/sculpting/other arts

Fly tying or fishing

Things that come under the "Whadda Ya Know" category of "things you should have learned in school, if you'd been paying attention."


Public speaking (now that you have so much to say and 'nothing to lose')

Hope these help.

Robin Brekke said...

Q: *Can* we teach older learners?

Q: *What" could we teach older learners?
A: ANYTHING. From my relationships with senior citizens I'd suggest:
*Living well (nutritionally, socially, physically, emotionally, relationally, etc...)
*Health issues
*Best practices for dispensing/tracking medication needs & those taken
*Age appropriate fitness classes
*Helpful resources on the Internet geared towards seniors
*Travel (where, how-to, history of places, etc..)
*Safety: home & travel
*Legal documents like insurance, wills, financials, power of attorney, durable power of attorney, etc..
*Recognizing scams and what to do/say in those events
*Technology: computers, cell phones, smart phones, email, Internet, sharing photos, software apps, etc..
*Business tours around town to places that cater to senior citizens. A showcase of opportunities, if you will.

The list goes on and on and on and on..........

Greg said...

I really appreciate the feedback!It is comforting to know that some of my own ideas are shared. I expect we'd agree that it is largely a matter of priority, since older learners are quite capable and practically anything is possible.

The idea that adult learning (andragogy) is largely self directed can have a valuable impact on how we answer that question. Adult Education Hall of Famer Allen Tough described the convenience of the World Wide Web and Google in the needs of self directed learning. In the spirit of "teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime," I put those items related to Google searches at the top of my personal list. Empowering the learner (of any age) is hugely satisfying to me.

I hope these items get other people thinking about areas we should be involved which haven't been discussed more extensively before.

FWIW--My personal list also included blogging, networking (the IT kind), scams, and health issues. The experiences brought to learning environment by the older participants are probably more valuable than anything we could come up with anyway.