Extending the boundaries of our thinking: The need and rationale for learning opportunities in later life.

Helen Heppner
Vol 15, Number 2, p.121
The starting point for this paper is the demographic changes occurring in our population, and the inability of our existing social structures to positively cater for the developmental needs of society's fastest growing sector. Evolving from this discussion, it is argued that the largely utilitarian goal of present educational institutions has created an educational system which is associated with youth and young adulthood. Correspondingly, older adults are excluded by the educational system from positive and fulfilling educational involvement. So that we may better cater for the learning needs of the older adult, education should be targeted as an institution which has the potential to ''broaden the basis for on-going activities and social interactions of older people'' (Earle, 1995:5). A redefinition of the relationship between education, work, citizenship and productive community involvement is necessary to change our perceptions, values and attitudes, and to create more positive and inclusive social behavioural options for older people.