ERIC Number: ED237655
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Dec-2
Reference Count: 0
The Older Learner: Education as a Means to One's Past.
Wolf, Mary Alice
A study was conducted to try to determine older adults' motivations for and experiences in the educational system as well as to try to determine how their life histories were being woven into their educational experiences. Based on the work of state theorists such as Buhler and Erikson as well as on the life review concept of Robert Butler, the study focused on a group of older people (60-80) who were taking some form of adult education course. The researcher visited them in their homes on three occasions, each one week apart, and spent one and one-half hours on each visit tape-recording their thoughts. The interviews were somewhat structured. The first focused on the adults' motivations for pursuing education; the second was concerned with the actual experience of classroom learning; and the last interview focused on the integration of the educational experience into the world of the learners. However, the interviewer let the subjects "ramble on" in hopes of evoking life review types of thoughts. The study found that many motivations exist for older learners to take adult education courses, such as social class, thwarted educational dreams, or a wish to go to college. The classroom experiences of the older adults were diverse; many were nostalgic; most were positive. The interviewer found that the life review process functioned as a counterpoint to classroom involvement as a means of restoring pride and self image when the adult education experience was not a good one. The life review also was used by the older people to remember specific scenes so as to cope with difficult times as a source of data for solving life problems. At the same time, many of the participants seemed to be on the verge of taking new directions as they reminisced about the past. Thus, the life review process was used to integrate education into their lives and to move on from the experience. (KC)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Life Review
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (Philadelphia, PA, November 29-December 2, 1983).