ERIC Number: ED431108
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-Apr
Transformative Learning Theory and the Study of Aging: The Implication of Case Studies of Older Volunteers.
The theory of perspective transformation was used as a framework for a study of volunteerism among older adults, examining whether volunteering in community organizations in late adulthood brings about transformation in meaning structures in later life development, and if and how it affects aging at both the individual and societal levels. Two qualitative case studies of older volunteers in Toronto were conducted, using life history interviews and participant observation. The case studies suggest that applying transformative learning theory to the study of later-life development and aging can help shift the focus of view, allowing one to see older adults not as mere "objects" of the problem of aging, but "subjects" who can participate in fixing problems, making a linkage between personal and societal development. The cases of the two volunteers show that, if proper roles and conditions are provided, older adults can contribute their skills and wisdom to society. The communicative and holistic type of learning fostered by volunteering leads to critical reflections that help them confront the dilemmas associated with aging and proceed with their lives, shifting their old assumptions about themselves and the world around them. This can gradually lead to a clearer sense of self, a more accepting view of individual and cultural heterogeneity, a deeper understanding of society, and a heightened level of social integration. To facilitate this movement, policymakers need to develop volunteer programs for older adults in a more effective way. (Contains 45 references) (KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Montreal, Quebec, April 19-23, 1999).