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ERIC Number: EJ956965
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0955-2308
Minding the Generation Gap
Field, John
Adults Learning, v23 n2 p20-21 Win 2011
Generational conflict is back. After years of relative silence, and mutual ignorance, the young and old are once more at war. With youth unemployment high on the political agenda, the fortunes of the "jobless generation" are being contrasted with those of the "golden generation" of baby boomers, but is one generation really being mugged by the other? Educationally, there is a very strong case for arguing that a generational mugging has indeed taken place in recent years. Since the early 1990s, there has been a massive focus of public investment in the education of children and young people. There has been some growth in pre-school education, but by far the largest increase has come in the form of a steady extension of the age at which young people leave full-time education. This can be seen most visibly in universities, where student numbers have exploded. At the same time, publicly funded provision for older adults has shrivelled. University adult programmes have all but vanished, and local authority provision is heading the same way. Once again, this year's returns from the Skills Funding Agency show the steady decline of adult safeguarded learning. Yet these are precisely the types of provision that older adults most use. Does this have anything to do with intergenerational transfers? Well, yes, it does. Today's seventy-somethings left school at a time when one young person in 20 entered university, and most young people finished full-time education at 15 or 16. Today's eighty-somethings had their school days disrupted by war. As basic skills surveys show, and as professionals will know, many older adults face serious literacy challenges; and few are adept members of the information society. In other words, there is a monumental generational inequality. And while current changes in university tuition fees will make some impact on this over the long term, they will do so only by reducing the level of public funding for universities. And if current applications trends continue, they will also bring about serious damage to adult participation in higher education; hardly anyone thinks the new fees will be good news for part-time study. A recent NIACE project showed there is scope for supporting grandparents who want to help their grandchildren's learning. Grandparents increasingly provide a massive, and largely unseen and unmeasured, amount of care for grandchildren. If grandparents are learners themselves, one can confidently expect improvements in their confidence and ability to contribute to children's learning. Not a robbery, but reciprocity.
National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. Renaissance House, 20 Princess Road West, Leicester, LE1 6TP, UK. Tel: +44-1162-044200; Fax: +44-1162-044262; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom