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Educational Gerontology

Learning in later life is an under-valued and under-resourced aspect of the experience of ageing. Likewise the teaching of gerontology has diminished in the UK. The Educational Gerontology SIG aims to raise the profile of lifelong and later life learning, and of gerontology, through events and opportunities for discussion and action.

Aims & Objectives:

We aim to promote research and debate on a wide range of issues including: 

  • The factors associated with activity and development in adulthood and later life;
  • The impact of age on engagement in different forms of learning (formal and informal);
  • The impact of different forms of learning on the ageing process, on wellbeing in later life, and on civic engagement;
  • Learning initiatives and activities for older learners in different cultural settings and countries;
  • The role of intergenerational exchange in learning and sharing knowledge in later life;
  • The role of older adults in educational policy making;
  • Learning and teaching about gerontology
  • The political economies of educational gerontology and gerontological education and the case for investment and structural development.


We look forward to meeting members and affiliates at the forthcoming BSG conference in Newcastle. John and Natalia will be at the Special Interest Groups market-place at 10am on Wednesday and will be joined by Marianne and Jitka for a social event at 8pm that evening. Look out for the details in the next mailing! 

This year's Educational Gerontology symposium will be held on Thursday 4th July 2024. 

From the enterprising self to civic action: four perspectives on learning in later life

Adult education is rooted in a social theory of learning. Etienne Wenger’s theory of learning as a community of practice proposes four dimensions: meaning; practice; community and identity. Our four papers cut across these domains. Marianne Markowski, Chris Kubiak and Lorraine Smith map the emerging literature on peer learning in later life and reflect on its limitations. Jill Wales and Glenda Cook explore the changing self-perceptions of a group of extra-care tenants learning to socialise on line. John Miles values a reworking of Wenger’s theory which extends the model to include teacher confidence. Finally, Tannistha Samanta and Toney K Thomas show how the University of the Third Age in India has been developing practices of civic action and social responsibility which indicate a transformative potential. All four presentations explore the centrality of life-long learning to the lives, aspirations and purposes of older people as social beings and citizens. They offer insights to sustain the field of educational gerontology at a discouraging time when it faces multiple pressures and institutional neglect.



Depolarising and Restating the Principles of Educational Gerontology: A Late Modern Rationale 

On December 5th 2023 Dr Hany Hachem delivered the Frank Glendenning Memorial Lecture which was hosted by SIG-ED partner The Association for Education and Ageing. Dr Hachem's stimulating and wide-ranging slides can be found below. An earlier version of his paper can be found in the final edition of the International Journal of Education and Ageing 5:3..


IJEAJournalVol5number323.pdf (0.85MB)

The group held a Symposium at the BSG conference on Thursday 6th July 2023:

‘Refreshing the field: educational gerontology in its local and global contexts’.

There were four presentations:

  • Professor Tannistha Samanta, Flame University, India - The Promise of Cultural Gerontology in Gerontological Education: some reflections on decolonizing the field. Slides attached below.
  • Dr Jane Watts, Consultant, European Mid Life Skills Review - Midlife - the employment of older workers and the panic surrounding early labour market exit in the post-pandemic period. Slides attached below.
  • Rob Hunter and Bharti Mistry, Leicester Ageing Together - Building a learning community during lockdown. Slides and commentary attached below.
  • Dr Nataliya Balyasnikova, York University, Vancouver, Dr Jitka Vseteckova, Open University, and Dr Marianne Markowski, Greenwich University - Community-based learning and collaborative learning in two countries (Canada & UK) – a critical comparison of approaches to learning in later life. Slides attached below. 

The Symposium was a hybrid session and could be joined online or in person. It was chaired by Dr John Miles, Chair, Association for Education and Ageing. 


Quality Learning for Positive Ageing

On October 3rd 2023 Dr Alan Potter presented his research into older learners’ perceptions of quality in later life learning. His study stemmed from his experience as a teacher, educational advisor and Director of Education for a large London Borough. Within a critical educational gerontology framework, his empirical inquiry adds to evidence that learning in later life can contribute to wellbeing and may offer protection from cognitive decline. Exploring the under-researched field of older learners’ experience of learning, Alan outlined the factors which older learners say they value when learning in an informal class setting. His findings have a wider application to other educational settings and will be of interest to tutors, learning and funding providers, policy makers, gerontologists, and older learners themselves. Dr John Miles hosted Alan's seminar which sparked a extended discussion. His slides are attached here and a recording of the seminar is available from John Miles on request. Alan's book Quality Learning for Positive Ageing: Voices of Older Learners is available from Routledge,gaining%20protection%20against%20cognitive%20decline.


Gerontological Education: a step too far for undergraduates?

Andrew Dunning, Lecturer in Social Policy at Swansea University and Debbie Price, Professor of Social Gerontology at Micra, presented on their experience of teaching undergraduate modules on ageing. They raised questions about course content, the problems of marketing such courses and the role of the university in supporting and promoting gerontology. Dr Anne Jamieson, Emeritus Reader, Birkbeck University of London served as discussant and drew on her twenty-five years’ experience of graduate and diploma teaching. The seminar was chaired by Dr John Miles.

The group held a Symposium online at the BSG conference on Wednesday 7th July 2021. Fifteen people attended and our two presenters drew on contrasted fields of enquiry. Dr Marianne Markowski, Research Fellow in the School of Health Sciences at University of Greenwich, reported on research into the role of peer education practices and their impact on professional training and considers the potential for their wider application. Dr Jitka Vseteckova Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and & Language Studies at the Open University drew on her current experience of delivering public talks on the theme of Ageing Well and considered how these have evolved in relation to her respondents and to her having to deliver them online. Besides presentations touched on theoretical debates about the nature and meaning of learning with implications for understanding the importance of teachers and their changing roles.

Discussion of mentoring and peer education continued online after the event.


Previously the group held a Symposium online at the BSG Conference on July 2nd 2020. The session was in three parts: Race Matters in Gerontology, by Dr Nilu Ahmed with Dr Karan Juttla as discussant; Learning in Later Life at a Time ofChange with presentations by Dr Jitka Vseteckova, Dr Joanna Walker and Dr John Miles and Learning in Practice with Rob Hunter of Learning for the Fourth Age. A recording of the session can be viewed here:

The group held a meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne on 12th March 2019 - a report on the various discussions at that meeting is available below.  


Educational Gerontology also submitted comments in response to the call for contributions to the investigations of Adult Education 100, the 1919 Centenary Commission on recommendations for adult education in the century ahead. Our submission can be found below


The group held a joint seminar with the BSG SIG for Technology and Ageing on November 22nd 2019 at the Institute for Mental Health, University of Nottingham. A report of the event can be found here: equality-caused-by-services-moving-online/


Membership of the Educational Gerontology SIG is open to all. A series of online seminars is under consideration and will be launched later in the year.

Following the 2023 BSG conference in Norwich the group is now convened by Dr Natalia Balyasnikova, Dr Marianne Markowski, Dr John Miles and Dr Jitka Vseteckova. Natalia will be leading on communication arrangements including social media and a SIG website. For the moment contact John Miles for information about membership.

The Educational Gerontology SIG emerged from a collaboration between BSG members of the Association for Education and Ageing (AEA), the Ransackers Association (RA), and Conversation into Action (CiA). 

Please note that the Association for Education and Ageing is no longer accepting applications for membership. A slightly damaged archive of the AEA website as it was in 2023 can be viewed at:

Plans are in hand to make the five volumes of the International Journal of Education and Ageing available online.