Socially engaged education of older people and further definition of this underdefined concept has been in focus at U3A over the last years. The concept of socially engaged older adult education is still to be defined. While testing our own tentative definition, we have been dwelling on our empirical findings collected over the last decades. We have been testing them against the concepts of socially engaged art, socially engaged architecture, socially engaged religion (cf.Academia.edu).
Socially engaged education is being related to positive social interdependence; collaborative learning, learning by doing in community for contributing to the development of the natural, built and social space; learning for solving environmental challenges, while learning in a democratic way and in public places; learning about non-violent public communication, etc. “Socially engaged education of older people is connected with community which older people help constructing while learning and interacting with the lives of other people.”
At Slovenian U3A we have conducted several inspiring EU projects based on exploratory, expansive and project learning considered as being socially engaged:
Personal town tours providing with older students with disciplinary knowledge and opportunities to construct their own knowledge about architecture and urbanism through creating personal itineraries combined with collecting relevant stories of Ljubljana’s townspeople about the urban buildings and space.
CINAGE, European cinema for active ageing, where older learners learned about concepts of active ageing and older age theories as to produce short featured films on active ageing, create film festivals etc.
RefugeesIN was a sort of continuation of the CINAGE project dealing with documentary films on refugee role models producing sophisticated documentary films based on real life stories.
Turtle a catalogue of paintings on the inequality of peripheral painting by older people resulting from their long-lasting hard work and studying at Slovenian U3A.
Paying tribute to Slovenian writers and organizing cultural events in a small dormitory village, studying the element of water and rebuilding a mile in a small locality in the Western part of Slovenia.
Studying psychology and setting up a new social practice called “At home on my own” devoted to abandoned children.
Socially engaged learning is practiced in the study circle of journalists, dealing with reporting on rather disparate social issues, reporting on the position of older people in nursery homes, etc. Their articles can be found irregularly on national daily newspapers, specialized magazines, on the national radio… Socially engaged journalism, step by step, instils the idea of how to age differently and on the contributory role of older people in society.
Moreover, “fluid modernity” requires research studies, many research studies. We are thinking of organizing study circles on research methodology in the field of social sciences and joining the movement Sciences to people which has recently been launched in Slovenia. In the meantime, Taxi, no thank you, an article written by one of our students and published in the national daily newspaper is discussing the taxi companies as social actors… and their compliance with professional standards.
Dušana Findeisen (firstname.lastname@example.org), Slovenian Third Age University