Critical educational gerontology at a senior centre in Malta

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One area that remained off the research radar is that interface between senior centers and learning programs, and hence, their potential to act as community-based learning hubs. Countering such a state of affairs, this article reports on an action research study to investigate the extent that a transformative learning program in a senior center can lead learners to improved levels of personal and social empowerment. The research project sought to meet its goal and objectives through the ‘action research’ design, by planning and executing a critical educational gerontological programme for persons attending a Maltese senior center. The learning program following a critical geragogical approach which encourages learners to discuss and problematize each theme in the curriculum. Pretest-posttest focus groups found the learning program to be successful in improving learners’ levels of personal empowerment as they acquired a strong awareness of how social differences are structurally produced due to inequities and discriminations based on social class, gender, and age differences. However, the quest achieving critical consciousness remained an elusive one due to immanence and internal agism, as well as the fact that political action arises as a lifetime narrative. Critical educational gerontology remains steadfastly hinged upon the ‘successful aging’ paradigm that overlooks how later life is also underpinned by ill-health, abjection, care relations, and loss of agency. It is hoped that this action research project acts as a catalyst for future studies in critical educational gerontology to be framed by a fourth age social imaginary.

Formosa, M., & Galea, R. (2020). Critical educational gerontology at a senior centre in Malta: Possibilities and limitations for critical consciousness. Educational Gerontology, 46(2), 59-71.

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Director of the United Nations International Institute on Ageing, Malta

Marvin Formosa PhD is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Gerontology and Dementia Studies, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta. He holds the posts of Chairperson of the National Commission for Active Ageing (Malta), Rector’s Delegate for the University of the Third Age (Malta), and Director of the International Institute on Ageing United Nations – Malta (INIA). Prof. Formosa published widely in the field of ageing studies, and recent publications included Active and healthy ageing: Gerontological and geriatric inquiries (2018), and The University of the Third Age and active ageing: European and Asian-Pacific perspectives (2019).

He is Country Team Leader (Malta) of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), sits as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal on Ageing in Developing Countries, and his academic interests include older adult learning, Universities of the Third Age, social class dynamics, feminist gerontology, and critical gerontology.