I have been delving into a lot of background stuff at the moment. Apart from updating myself on latest research, data and articles on the topics of ageing, older adult well-being and lifelong learning in general, I am also dipping into some philosophy.
These days, being of an enquiring mind is aided by modern technology. Obviously the web is a great potential source of information and disinformation! I appreciate the ability to be able to quickly look something or someone up, rather than having to either ignore them and remain in ignorance, or spend longer searching for and finding the information.
I am listening to various podcasts, and becoming familiar with names I must confess I had either forgotten about or ignored. I have been revisiting ‘old friends’ and, indeed, digging deeper into the likes of Kant and Sartre than I have done before. With a little more maturity than before, I am able to make links far more easily as I relate the thinking of a utilitarian government to the minds that inspire it, consciously or subconsciously. I am aware of Michel Foucault’s statement (1970) that he was unsure whether philosophy exists, but philosophers do. I like that kind of enigmatic assurance that everything is questionable.
Why look into philosophers then? Well, I guess it is because of my desire simply to understand better the motivations of people – who are my main concern. By this, I mean, not only those of the policy and decision makers, nor just those of the practitioners within the field, but of the very target themselves: older adults.
Is the philosophy worth it? Yes, absolutely, as I am now questioning things far more, picking up on references made, and even uncovering my own beliefs in the process. I am also following trails indicated by the variety of research I am coming across. Recently, I have been having to work on something ‘european’, and it is interesting to take note of where other countries are at with their approaches to adult learning in all its forms. One thing is certain: What we view as Lifelong Learning in the UK, is not necessarily the same elsewhere. A lot comes down to interpretation, regimes, influence and culture – all of which make this area of research a challenging, allbeit an unglamorous one.
As I progress, various strands are starting to protrude from the base of enquiry. These will all need subsuming and consuming in my work. If there is one I’d like to share with the world at this stage, it would be just one:
There is something implied and inherent here that, I am beginning to think, might be the keystone of what I am looking into. It is one common element that seems to pervade all things I have been considering. It is both motive and result of learning, yet seems to be so often ignored as a reason for activity, despite being a part of our very social being. It can also be problem and solution…