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Teaching Gerontology, February 2011
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Sunday, 25 Jun 2017

Teaching Gerontology, February 2011


In this issue:

- Don't Know Much Gerontology?
- Teaching Civility
- AGHE Teaching Institute
- Gerontology Class in Residential Facility
- The Future of Social Security
- Population Aging in Japan
- Web Sites to See
- Lighting a Fire


DON’T KNOW MUCH GERONTOLOGY?

"Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the french I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be"

A new book casts doubt on just how much students are learning in college these days. The book, ACADEMICALLY ADRIFT: Limited Learning on College Campuses, has been released by the University of Chicago Press. The authors ask "How much are students actually learning in contemporary higher education? The answer for many undergraduates, we have concluded, is not much."

So write the authors, Richard Arum, professor of sociology and education at New York University, and Josipa Roksa, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. For
many undergraduates, they write, "drifting through college without a clear sense of purpose is readily apparent."  The book cites data from student surveys and transcript analysis showing that many students have minimal expectations about classwork and respond accordingly.

It made me wonder: Are we doing any better in teaching about aging? 

Some major findings reported in the book:

-No critical thinking: "gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) are either exceedingly small or empirically non-existent for a large proportion of students"

-Students aren't doing much writing: e.g., fewer than half of college seniors produced more than 20 pages of writing in a course the prior semester

-More than a third of all students demonstrated NO significant gain in learning (as measured by standard assessment methods) during four years of college

-Comparison with research from earlier decades suggests that there has been a substantial decline in students' work habits

-On the positive side, liberal arts students did much better in critical thinking, especially in comparison to those in business, education or social work (what about gerontology? I wondered)

Overall, lots of bad news.  What will we be doing about it?



TEACHING CIVILITY

As a teacher of gerontology, I've taught the subject through "great debates" in which I encourage students to argue for views that may be opposed to others in the class.  This approach is very different from an easy-going relativism that shrugs off contradictory views (e.g., assisted suicide, privatizing Social Security) by saying, in effect, "Whatever..." or "Everyone's entitled to their point of view."

Yet debate isn't easy, whether in the classroom or in public life.  We've heard much talk in recent weeks about the need for "civility" in our political discourse, especially on topics of
intense debate (think: healthcare reform). 

But how do we teach "civility?"  How do we teaching listening? 

Philosophy professor Jacob Needleman offers a clue: "In my philosophy classes I make use of what counselors and mediators sometimes call the practice of "mirroring." In that exercise two people holding passionately opposed opinions about an important issue debate each other under the following strict condition: they can express their views only after they have faithfully summarized what the other has just said. I treat this exercise not so much as an instrument of reconciliation, but mainly as a means of studying and understanding what it really means to listen to another human being. The result is often nothing short of miraculous, even to the point of bringing tears to my eyes."

For more on Needleman’s distinctive approach, visit:http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3714/0/



AGHE TEACHING INSTITUTE

A new pre-conference Teaching Institute this spring will focus on the often hidden processes involved in engaged teaching and learning. Four of AGHE's Distinguished Teachers will offer an interactive, "hands on" workshop geared toward meeting participants where they are in their teaching careers. The Institute begins with a panel discussion by the distinguished teachers reflecting on how their engaged teaching styles have developed and what experiences have made the most impact on their teaching pedagogy. Participants will then be asked to identify and share the teaching issues they are currently grappling with, opening it up to the group for discussion and feedback. The Institute ends with concurrent breakout sessions on a variety of topics that can be used immediately in the classroom based on the distinguished teachers areas of expertise related to engagement. The Institute will provide a forum in which faculty from different disciplines and at different stages of their careers can discuss and share best practices.

The Teaching Institute will take place on March 17, 2011, 1:00-5:00 PM. For more Information visit: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/252/0/



GERONTOLOGY CLASS IN RESIDENTIAL FACILITY

David Steitz, who heads the Gerontology Program at Nazareth College in upstate New York, teaches an upper-division class on "Issues in Aging." At many institutions his class would be held on campus, but Prof. Steitz teaches his 22 undergraduate students at St. John’s Meadows, a local independent living campus.  13 resident elders from the facility attend his class each week, offering a unique intergenerational approach to gerontology education.

For more on the Nazareth class, visit: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3715/0/



POPULATION AGING IN JAPAN

Standard & Poor's has downgraded Japan's credit rating because of its rapidly population aging. S&P issued this statement: "Few countries share the acute aging problems of Japan... (with) the world's highest median age, 9Japan) lacks clear policy measures to tackle its long-term demographic problems. Barring structural changes in old-age related government spending, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services believes that a rapidly graying society will lift expenditures. This, in turn, threatens to weaken the sovereign ratings on Japan
in the long term... It is important that Japan start structural adjustments of major age-related expenditures, such as public pension funds and old-age medical insurance programs, to reduce costs.

For details, visit: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3717/0/



WEB SITES TO SEE

WELFARE STATE.  The International Journal of Aging and Later Life (free on-line periodical) has a special issue on "Ageing societies and the Welfare State," with articles exploring
work, retirement, and caregiving in welfare states. Available at: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3719/0/

UNEMPLOYED OLDER WORKERS. Read "Can Unemployed Older Workers Find Work?" by Richard W. Johnson and Janice Park at: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3720/0/

SOCIAL SECURITY. For a report on public opinion trends on the occasion of Social Security's 75th anniversary, visit: http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/61518/395346/3230/0/



LIGHTING A FIRE

"Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire."

-William Butler Yeats

 

 

 

This electronic newsletter, edited by Harry (Rick) Moody, is published by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) and co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs at AARP. The information expressed in this newsletter was not composed by AGHE or any member of its staff. To submit items of interest or request subscription changes, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
1220 L Street, NW, Suite 901, Washington, DC 20005
202.289.9806 • This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it • www.aghe.org

 

**USED WITH PERMISSION**