Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lifelong Learning Symposium

What a full day of fascinating papers delivered by passionate people! I took a wad of notes, so will report here on the main points as I saw them.
David's paper was (as always) a broad sweep of the intellectual and the practical. He suggested that we need to tackle barriers of poverty, education disadvantage, disabilities and other issues facing older peole. He reminded us that museums can still be seen as elitist places and that we need to cater for all audiences and not spend too much time always segmenting.
The thing I enjoyed abut Marie's talk was the emphasis on learning as pleasure, fun and enjoyment - words we often forget to relate to musuems! The NGI is running some amazing programs, not just for older audiences - one I think is really innovative is the young mothers tours.
Des's talk ranged widely, reminding us that often with ageing we focus on the negative rather than the positive. The ageing population shouldn't be seen as a problem to be solved but as a "demographic bounty" to be used. He cited many, many examples of creativity in older life - apart from artists and classical composers we also saw images of Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney! The three aspects regarding ageing he mentioned were:
  • the positives - the creativity, wisdom and life experience of older people
  • inter-individual variability and the need to have a wide palette - all older people are not the same and there is more variation between two 80 year olds as between two 40 year olds
  • reduced reserve - therefore providing spaces to relax, recharge and contemplate are required
He reminded us that the majority of older people are fit, heatlty and contributing, however those that are sick do tend to have more complex health issues. He also gave us a nice quote (didn't get the author but worth reproducing): "If you design for the old you include the young, if you design for the young you exclude the old". The overall message I got was to have a complex palette on offer and design for all.
Catherine's talk on vounteering was full of information. The remarks she made about the 21st century volunteer were very salient - that they are looking for an experience and added-value and that there are so many more opportunities to volunteer now (I have seen the increase of volunteer tourism for example). She challenged us to remember that volunteers are changing so are we trying to fit them into a 20th century volunteer model or are we trying to change?
There were other papers and a great discussion at the end - too much to digest now, but overall a great success I feel.
Just a reminder that my paper is here

No comments: