Old Age Learning. Relevance.
One of the most serious future challenges for Europe and Russia are the demographic changes, which combine both lower birth rates and the increase of the share of elderly in the society.
Since the speed of development of new knowledge and technologies is increasing, especially in such areas as genetic engineering, pharmaceutics, ICT etc.; and also due to globalization processes in economics, technology and culture, introduction of automated and robotic technologies in industrial production, we can say that such changes will influence the increase of life expectancy. This means that professional and personal activity, and the ability to adapt to the changing realities within all areas of activity will pass from being desirable to being essential. Active longevity programs in different countries should look not only in raising the quality of life of elderly generation, but also should consider the raising political power of the third generation due to the increase of their share in the society.
Education and learning have always been key instruments to change the way of life and acquire new competences. Governments of multiple countries realize the importance of education for the elderly. In 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted. According to that Plan providing the elderly the access to education is an important condition for their integration in the life of the society. Russia has undertaken the obligation to fulfill the Madrid Plan, and in 2025 adopted the Action Strategy to Promote the Interests of the Elderly Generation up to 2025.
Lifelong learning is not just a trendy set of words, it’s a vital necessity in a world of constant technological and social change. XXI century older people should realize that their ability to learn new things has a direct influence on their quality of life. The custom and ability to learn help people of third age to remain socially and economically active, maintain their labour market competitiveness, use modern technologies and stay healthy longer. The contents and directions of education should consider historical, national and cultural peculiarities, and, consequently, the mentality of the elderly people in different countries. For instance, according to the RF HSE research the main reason for Russian elderly not to participate in lifelong learning is not the lack of time, or even the limited amount of courses offered, but the lack of recognized need to learn.
The key goal of the Forum is to answer the questions: how to teach “different” elderly people, what to teach them about, why we should offer them learning and who should teach them.
Thematic section 1.
Healthy lifestyle. Longevity. Quality of life.
Currently the training on healthy lifestyle is delivered through a number of activities such as preventive health care projects; providing information on treatment, diet, physical exercise, sleep diagnostics programs with the use of modern medical equipment and other projects. The effectiveness of such types of learning has been recognised by the expert society and the authorities. Along with the government such programs and projects are also conducted by businesses and NGO’s. Yet their activities are not co-ordinated, which results in the absence of system approach, low quality of methodologies and tools, formal approach to trainings, and, as a consequence, poor results.
- How should the training on healthy lifestyle be organised to enable the elderly citizens to preserve health and lead active lifestyle as long as possible?
- Training for the ‘new elderly’ - challenge for the authorities and education system. What approaches and scenarios can be implemented?
- How the effectiveness of separate practices and the training process overall?
- What is the training potential in this area, and what should we aim for?
- What professional resource should be prepared and how?
The advances of medicine, hygiene, development of life supporting infrastructure increase life expectancy. Scientists predict that life expectancy will raise to 115, 120 or 125 years. Many say that the final limit is unknown.
The only thing that is certain is that people will grow older and will live longer.
People already have 40-50 additional years of life.
Both people and the society want that those years should not be just spent, but lived in a healthy, happy and useful way.
WHO claims that a person’s health by 50% depends on the personal effort, which concerns the physical health. But what about the psychological health?
This is why we want to discuss the following things:
On the one hand, people have more years of life, on the other hand, oldness causes fear, because it’s associated with illness, dependence and being useless.
- How learning and education on health and healthy lifestyle can change the situation?
- What are effective forms of such education?
- How can we change aged people’s perception of themselves and their ways to work with their bodies and psyche?
Thematic section 2.
Information technologies: inclusion and development, or self-isolation?
Modern society is digitally based. The ability to use digital resources is now an essential basic skill. Lack of digital skills hampers the elderly from continuing their working life as almost any working activity these days requires digital literacy, which is learnt in younger age the easiest, similar to languages and mathematics. It is sad, but new technology training is not aimed at the elderly. There are no proven approaches and methods, specifics of the old age people, their constructive and destructive strategies are not considered.
- Can people over 50 learn new IT competencies?
- What IT competences should elderly people acquire?
- What is the best teaching method?
- What professional resource should be prepared and how?
Currently there is an obvious digital gap between younger and older generations, research shows triple difference between their digital skills. It is also an apparent fact that elderly people should be integrated in modern digital formats of interaction with outside world, not only to open up the possibilities of new services to them, but also to enhance their competitiveness in the labour market, which is still quite ageist in spite of the raised pension age.
In order to look for opportunities to combine the existing approaches to overcome digital self-isolation of elderly people the participants of the project session will have to arrive at a common understanding on a number of issues:
Are there common grounds of different approaches to integrate elderly generation into the digital society?
What are the criteria of quality product in IT sphere for the elderly? Which differences between pensioners and pre-pensioners in motivation and learning should be considered in creation of educational programs?
What can serve as a motivation trigger to make elderly people master new technologies? How stimulate them not to stop at basic digital literacy?
Can digital culture integration provide “new youngness” for the elderly?
Thematic section 3.
Future challenges: active ageing requires preparation
Permanent technological revolution and massive social change contribute to the world of complexity and strategic unpredictability. In such conditions the elderly generation becomes more vulnerable to change, a situation of prefigurative culture arises (according to M. Mead), when the younger teach the older. The system of education has the complex mission of adapting older generations to the changing world, integrating that generation into modern economy and society in one way or another. This concept often has rational economic rationale – to decrease the pressure of the elderly on the economy and society.
At the same time the idea that the elderly generation is totally useless and is a burden for the society barely stands to a critical view. The main thing is about finding the right role for the older generation, and correct understanding of the goals of active ageing. If we understand the new paradigm of mass active longevity, quite possibly, we can wish for new type of educational institutions.
The goal of this section is to discuss two paradigms of preparation for active ageing, including both traditional industrial concept – adapting older people and minimize the societal damage; and the new post-industrial concept, which presupposes that massive active longevity can have important social and personal goals.
The main issue is how the two-sided educational processes should be organized and how much education can contribute to the transfer to post-industrial concept of active longevity:
The following issues will be discussed:
- What is the main task of adaptive education of the elderly in terms of economics? What ways of adapting the elderly to the changing economy are most effective? How such education should be organized?
- What possible forms of adaptation can be used to reinstate the intergenerational dialogue and the elderly inclusion in society (including, new roles)? How can we, considering generation gap, support more active inclusion of the older generation in the life of younger generation in their families? Which role can active older people play in the society– cities, social services, education, social management systems? Can we find a new role for the life wisdom of older generations?
- What can be “silver age” goals as a separate life stage? How education can support them – what should be learned and how? What forms of education will work in this case?
- For each of these directions the following issues will be discussed:
- Learner motivation,
- Roles of different members of educational eco-system (traditional and new educational institutions, employers, social organizations, unions, learners);
- Requirements to specialists who can provide adequate level of training