How community participation enriches learning, wellbeing and a sense of identity in older men
Learning is a lifelong process and an important component of successful ageing. Many people understand the value of learning in gaining foundation skills such as literacy and numeracy, and initial vocational qualifications to gain employment. But not everyone realises the value of learning beyond initial education and training.
Learning serves personal and social purposes as well as vocational ones – it provides opportunities for social engagement, helps people to achieve their potential as citizens, and prepares them for active ageing for the future. There is growing evidence to suggest that learning has positive health effects, particularly for older members of our community.
This report highlights findings from a study of men aged 50 years and over in regions of Australia with a higher than average proportion of older men not in the labour force. It investigates men’s attitudes towards and experiences of learning through engagement in the community.
The report has two key messages. First, learning outcomes should be recognised and valued, regardless of where and how they are achieved. Second, participation in informal learning appears to be particularly effective in enhancing the wellbeing of older men who are less likely to engage in formal learning.
One of the main challenges for policymakers in this field is to ensure that learning opportunities are keeping pace with the needs of individuals and society by motivating, encouraging and supporting the adults least likely to participate in learning.
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