Doctors or Teachers?

Listed on November 19, 2014 in Blogs!

On Sunday I gave a talk about the relationship between adult education and an ageing society. My key message was that to continue to engage in learning – and I don’t just mean reading a book – but to learn in ways which stretch and challenge, is seriously good for your brain. To learn in a social setting is even better because this confronts the problem of loneliness and isolation in older age. But beyond all of this I also spoke of the disconnect between what has been demonstrated as true and the response in public policy. I lamented the closure of the extra-mural departments in universities of Bristol, Bath, Bournemouth and Exeter and focus on skills for work dominating the public programmes of further education colleges. According to Age UK three quarters of older people want to learn for leisure and pleasure. They’re mostly not interested in acquiring skills or qualifications for work. That should be obvious. So what is the state going to do to support learning in older age? Not much I think and that is a pity because it would be a lot cheaper than the medics and the drugs which seem to be the alternative.