Continuing education in the later years

Material Information

Continuing education in the later years
Series Title:
Institute of Gerontology series, v. 12
Dixon, James Cannon, 1916-
Southern Conference on Gerontology, 1963
Place of Publication:
Published for the University of Florida Institute of Gerontology by the University of Florida Press
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
x, 124 p. : ; 23 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Continuing education ( lcsh )
Older people ( lcsh )
Education, Continuing -- Congresses -- United States ( mesh )
Geriatrics -- Congresses -- United States ( mesh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
conference publication ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographies.
Statement of Responsibility:
Edited by J. C. Dixon.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
00416018 ( OCLC )
72190331 ( LCCN )

Full Text

The Southern Conference
on Gerontology


(Communications relating to gerontology at the University of
Florida should be addressed to Institute of Gerontology, 202
Matherly Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida)

Institute of Gerontology Series

Vol. 1-Problems of America's Aging Population, 1951
Edited by T. Lynn Smith

Vol. 2-Living in the Later Years, 1952
Edited by T. Lynn Smith

Vol. 5-Health in the Later Years, 1953
Edited by John M. Maclachlan

Vol. 4-Economic Problems of Retirement, 1954
Edited by George B. Hurff

Vol. 5-Aging and Retirement, 1955
Edited by Irving L. Webber

Vol. 6-Aging: A Current Appraisal, 1956
Edited by Irving L. Webber

Vol. 7-Services for the Aging, 1957
Edited by Irving L. Webber

Vol. 8-Organized Religion and the Older Person, 1958
Edited by Delton L. Scudder

Vol. 9-Society and the Health of Older People, 1959
Edited by Irving L. Webber

Vol. 10-Aging: A Regional Appraisal, 1961
Edited by Carter C. Osterbind

Vol. 11-Aging in a Changing Society, 1962
Edited by Ruth E. Albrecht

Vol. 12-Contiinuing Education in the Later Years, 1963
Edited by J. C. Dixon


Edited by
J. C. Dixon

Published for the
University of Florida Institute of Gerontology
by the
University of Florida Press
Gainesville, 1963

A University of Florida Press Book


Library of Congress Catalog Number: 53-12339

PRICE: $3.75




by J. C. DIXON

A MAN'S YEARS do not count so much until
he has nothing else to count and, when that time comes, he has
few years left to count. This year's Conference recognizes the
pressing need to help turn those years to account in purposeful,
socially useful, and personally fulfilling living.
Continuing Education in the Later Years was chosen as the
theme of this Conference for several reasons but I think one rea-
son is enough to justify our concern. The educational attainment
of a typical person reaching 65 today is seventh or eighth grade,
but in just a few years this level will rise to twelfth grade. Fewer
old people will then be content to rock away their years in vacant
contemplation. We are in the middle of an old-age population
explosion coupled with a knowledge explosion, and continuing
education is becoming an increasing necessity if our older citizens
are to discharge their social and political obligations with the
wisdom we associate with age.
The purpose of these Proceedings is to call attention to the
problem. The first group of papers attempts to identify some of
the needs and personal characteristics of older people as a basis
for planning appropriate programs of continuing education to
meet those needs. Then a number of current programs concerned
with adult education-national, state, and county-are reviewed
in the second section for the purpose of examining how they serve

Continuing Education in the Later Years
those needs and how they might serve them better. The final
section is concerned with national planning, a regional assess-
ment of personnel training needs, and a summary of the Confer-
ence which tells us where we stand now. Altogether, as the
present foreshadows the future, these papers also tell us where we
might stand.
The Conference was conducted by the Institute of Geron-
tology of the University of Florida and the Division of General
Extension of the Florida Institute for Continuing University
Studies in cooperation with the Florida Council on Aging.
Chairmen of Conference sessions included Dr. Sam E. Hand,
State Supervisor of Adult and Veteran Education, Tallahassee:
Mrs. Virginia M. Smyth, Regional Representative on Aging in
the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Atlanta:
and, at the University of Florida, Dr. Harry M. Philpott, Vice-
President, Dr. Peter F. Regan. Professor of Psychiatry, and Dr.
T. Lynn Smith, Graduate Research Professor of Sociology. Dr.
Robert L. Fairing was coordinator of the Conference. On the
program committee were Dr. Albert V. Hardy, Acting State
Health Officer of the Florida State Board of Health: Dr. Carter
C. Osterbind, Chairman of the Institute of Gerontology: and Dr.
Wilse B. Webb, Chairman of the Department of Psychology of
the University of Florida. The Conference and these Proceedings
are the work of all these and of the distinguished authors of the
papers which follow.


Preface-J. C. DIXON, Ph.D., Editor, Professor of Psychol-
ogy, University of Florida v
Foreword-HARRY M. PHILPOTT, Ph.D., Vice-President,
University of Florida ix

I. Aging and Changing Needs
Education for What? The Needs of Older People 1
MAURICE E. LINDEN, M.D., Director, Division of Mental
Health, Department of Public Health, City of Philadel-
The Educable Aged 14
IRVING WEBBER, Ph.D., Research Social Scientist, Pinel-
las County Health Department, St. Petersburg
Differential Changes in Interests and Learning Abilities 26
THEODORE LANDSMAN, Ph.D., Professor of Education,
University of Florida
Are the Churches Meeting the Needs of Older People? 41
THAXTON SPRINGFIELD, Pastor, University Methodist
Church, and Director, Wesley Foundation, Gainesville

2. Programs for Continuing Education
The Public School, Community College, and the Aged 51
THOMAS A. VAN SANT, Assistant Superintendent, Bureau
of Community Education, New York City
The Adult Education Program of Pinellas County .62
JOE D. MILLS, Director of Vocational and Adult Educa-
tion, Board of Public Instruction of Pinellas County,
St. Petersburg
Health Education in Pinellas County .. 68
BETTY GARDINER, Director of Health Education, Pinellas
County Health Department, St. Petersburg
Libraries Are for Reading and More .. 76
ELEANOR PHINNEY, Executive Secretary, Adult Services
Division, American Library Association, Chicago
The University Comes to the Community .. 86
MYRON R. BLEE, Ed.D., President, Florida Institute for
Continuing University Studies, Tallahassee

3. Program Planning
A Regional Assessment of Personnel and Training Needs 94
VIRGINIA M. SMYTH, Regional Representative on Aging,
Department of Health, Education and Welfare, At-
lanta; and WILLIAM E. COLE, Ph.D., Professor of Soci-
ology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Federal Activities and Legislative Needs 109
Sc.D. (Hon.), Deputy Director, Office of Aging. De-
partment of Health, Education, and Welfare, Wash-
In Sum and Prospect 119
WILSE B. WEBB, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Univer-
sity of Florida



Gerontology have been designed to encourage research on the
problems of older people by providing scholars with an oppor-
tunity to present the findings of their research efforts and a meet-
ing place for individuals interested in this field who come from a
wide number of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, so-
cial welfare, economics, nursing, medicine, and the allied health
sciences. The University of Florida, in cooperation with the Uni-
versity Press, is pleased to present this book as a permanent record
of the proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Southern Conference
on Gerontology.
The reports contained in this book are drawn from varied
disciplines but focus on the general Conference theme, "Con-
tinuing Education in the Later Years." While most of the in-
creased interest in education being manifested today concerns
itself with the problems of our young people, there is also a much
larger growth of adult education programs under way. It is fitting
that the Conference should take note of this trend and relate it
particularly to the needs of our older citizens.
The University is indebted to the devoted faculty members
who comprise the Council of its Institute of Gerontology and who
have assumed responsibility for planning the Conference. In the
absence of a staff member giving major attention to the Institute,

Continuing Education in the Later Years
this Council has accepted cheerfully responsibilities which go
beyond and are in addition to their normal duties. The University
is grateful for this service and pays tribute to the members of the
Other arrangements for the Conference were made through
the Florida Institute for Continuing University Studies, a newly
created agency of the Board of Control whose purpose is to make
available the resources of higher education to as many citizens of
the state of Florida as possible. The Florida Council on Aging,
which is the state gerontological society, cooperated in the de-
velopment of the program as did a number of other agencies of
the state and federal government.
It is the hope of the University of Florida that this book will
stimulate additional research and experimentation in educational
programs for senior citizens. If it inspires only one research pro-
gram or stimulates only a single educational project, the effort
involved in presenting this Conference will have been worth-

I. Aging and Changing Needs

Education for What? The Needs of Older People


AFTER WE HAVE ARRIVED at certain defini-
tions, we shall have our answer.
Aging is no place for sentimentality, but it is a place for sen-
timent; it is too autonomous for advice, but still in need of guid-
ance; it possesses its own commodious wisdom, yet is still in need
of interpretation: it contains its own independence of action moti-
vated by experience, yet is eternally in need of planning: it mani-
fests its own intrinsic vigor, yet is perpetually in debt for energy;
it is the epitome of living fulfillment, yet the nadir of realization;
it is the culmination of the known and the merest preface to the
unknown; it is so recalcitrant to understanding, so resistant to
penetrating inquiry, so contentiously self-willed that it has been
virtually shunned by most students of history. Like God or one's
parents, aging has traditionally enjoyed the unassailable position
of authority. It was characteristically the activator, not itself the
object of investigation. Who would be so arrogant as to research
it when genius itself could be defined as the wisdom and sagacity
of the aged mind occurring prematurely in the young mind?
But the cloak of mystery has progressively been removed from
aging and an effort has been begun to understand its psychologi-
cal nature. If we are, then, to have a clearer notion of its educa-
tional needs, let us take note of some of its qualities in the
developmental scale of mankind.

I. Aging and Changing Needs

Education for What? The Needs of Older People


AFTER WE HAVE ARRIVED at certain defini-
tions, we shall have our answer.
Aging is no place for sentimentality, but it is a place for sen-
timent; it is too autonomous for advice, but still in need of guid-
ance; it possesses its own commodious wisdom, yet is still in need
of interpretation: it contains its own independence of action moti-
vated by experience, yet is eternally in need of planning: it mani-
fests its own intrinsic vigor, yet is perpetually in debt for energy;
it is the epitome of living fulfillment, yet the nadir of realization;
it is the culmination of the known and the merest preface to the
unknown; it is so recalcitrant to understanding, so resistant to
penetrating inquiry, so contentiously self-willed that it has been
virtually shunned by most students of history. Like God or one's
parents, aging has traditionally enjoyed the unassailable position
of authority. It was characteristically the activator, not itself the
object of investigation. Who would be so arrogant as to research
it when genius itself could be defined as the wisdom and sagacity
of the aged mind occurring prematurely in the young mind?
But the cloak of mystery has progressively been removed from
aging and an effort has been begun to understand its psychologi-
cal nature. If we are, then, to have a clearer notion of its educa-
tional needs, let us take note of some of its qualities in the
developmental scale of mankind.

Continuing Education in the Later Years

First we must agree upon a definition-and we shall arbitrar-
ily decide that aging is a transitional state after full maturity.
Full maturity is a fairly enduring state, perhaps the longest of
each personality, which follows the culmination of adolescence
and precedes a period of rather rapid generalized decline.
We shall think of full maturity as the long period in which
there is a more coherent, more stable attitude toward vocational
problems; a progressive reduction in self-consciousness; and a
progressive and increasing self-confidence: in which there is
found a diminishingly slavish acceptance of socially sanctioned
attitudes and practices, while there is a strong gregarious drive
which leads to the progressive acceptance of older persons; and
a perceptible trend toward the altruization of impulses (unself-
In the period of maturity fairly adequate modes of response
are able to function at a habit level. During this phase of exist-
ence personality is served by fairly stable physiological equip-
ment. Perhaps most importantly, and certainly most significant
from the standpoint of education, the personality of maturity
relates most closely to reality-both external and internal. Day-
dreaming and a variety of other unrealistic responses are much
less in evidence. The internal traditional conflict among Id, Ego,
and Superego-amid the instincts, the rational self, and the con-
science-is much diminished. This latter issue is paramount, for
our researches indicate that the chronically unresolved intra-
psychic conflicts of a lifetime, which were in a state of abeyance
through middle life, are reactivated during the process of further
All students now agree that there are personality changes that
accompany the transition from full maturity to the aging struc-
ture. There is no doubt a good deal of validity to the popular
impression that elderly persons tend to be more conservative,
more reactionary, more intolerant of changes in manners, morals,
religion, and politics than their juniors. A great majority of older
people possess feelings of inferiority and of general inadequacy
which in part are simply reactions to the calendar and declining
physical vigor, loss of life's central occupation, and traditional
assumptions (many erroneous) regarding old age.

Aging and Changing Needs
Much evidence strongly suggests that the aging have emo-
tional needs to find the world as unchanging and as predictable
as the infant finds his external world to be. In some measure this
is owing to the intrapsychic weakening of repressive forces. The
need for conservatism based on crumbling psychological de-
fenses may be illustrated by analogy with the motorist whose car
has faulty brakes and who is therefore timidly careful on hilly
roads. But it is probably also based on another internal experi-
ence; that is, in aging, wherein time is often felt to be moving at
its fastest rate, there is an obvious need for the stabilization of
external events to serve as vantage points for accommodation and
fixation. By way of pictorial illustration: If one is to navigate ade-
quately while in very rapid motion, it is necessary that the stars
move slowly.
The vaunted increasing "childishness" of the older mind
illustrates the operation of a reactive tendency in the human
organism-the organism characteristically tends to fall back upon
its initial modes of response when it encounters a sufficiently
severe and prolonged frustration. This is similar to Freud's con-
cept of the repetition compulsion of living organisms-an inher-
ent predisposition to repeat past and learned performances for the
sake of adaptation. It is clear that this form of "learning" is most
in need of "education."
With regard further to some of the characteristics of aging,
studies show that there is no greater incidence of "nervousness"
in the later decades of life than in the earlier ones. Memory im-
pairment of aging persons is not wholly irreversible. Therapeutic
work with people in their 60's, 70's, and 80's brings about dis-
tinct improvement of memory for recent events. Psychoanalytic
treatment shows that the retention of verbal interpretations is
often very adequate in patients 65 and over.
The old adage that old dogs cannot be taught new tricks,
that educability declines with the passing of youth, should be
In the 1920's Thorndike and his associates found that there
is a decline in learning ability after the second decade, but at 50
and beyond there is still a considerable capacity for acquiring
new knowledge and skills. One group of investigators concludes
that youth is a more favorable period for learning, but oppor-
tunity is more important than age. Another group of investiga-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
tors, who studied 2,000 persons aged from 20 to 95, were led to
the conclusion that the enlargement of interest and improved
judgment of aging can more than compensate for a decrease in
manual skill. One psychoanalyst, unconvinced of Freud's dicturm
regarding the incapacity for psychoanalysis beyond age 40, was
convinced that people in the later periods of life do not lack
educability. He found that patients in the 60's and 70's did well
in psychoanalytic treatment, while some in their 70's responded
more rapidly than others in their 60's.
In further studies by Thorndike in which his subjects were 91
men of science and 80 men of affairs, he found that the operd
magna of 22 of the 91 scientists and 19 of the 80 men of affairs
were done after age 60. Six of the 22 scientists achieved their
opera magna after age 80. Such observations make clear th
necessity for taking into account the role played by interest, opJ
portunity, and a continuing sense of adequacy in determining
intellectual capacity beyond the period of involution.
As has already been mentioned, the memory defects which
are common in aging are not necessarily or wholly physiologicalI
Memory is a function of attention. The withdrawal of attention
may lead to forgetfulness of recent events. Memory is also a func-
tion of responsibility-and a sense of responsibility is intimately
connected with a sense of love and human relationship. Removal
or loss of the latter-love and human relationship-certainly af
fects responsibility and, in turn, memory.
The many external and internal insults to which the agin
person is exposed cannot long be borne by a weakening ego and
regression characteristically ensues. There is no need for us to
delve extensively into a consideration of the various expressions
of regression. Suffice it to mention that the increase in masturba-
tion, the return to infantile avenues of gaining satisfaction,
the hypochondriacal tendencies, the frequency of urination, the
aged's concern and preoccupation with bowel movements, and
the increased eating, sleeping, and garrulity may all represent
regressive autoerotic, urethral, anal, and oral psychological
Now, let us return to the central theme. It is probably no
accident that I was selected to make this presentation. A careful
consideration of the topic, "Education for What?" will reveal
that this is part of a mental health program.

Aging and Changing Needs
In effect we must ask ourselves an important question. Since
we know that the disorders of the human mind have their roots
in the earliest days, weeks, and months of infancy, then is it
possible to effect community welfare and individual happiness
through mental hygienic measures that are practiced in the com-
munity after the damage is done and after the problems have
been created? Is it worth our while, our effort, and our money to
prevent emotional disorder-whose preventability is in some
My answer to this question is that it is possible to undo much
of the damage, prevent its recurrence and maintain social systems
designed to bring about emotional well-being.
We shall discover that we have three general groups of func-
tions and responsibilities toward people-especially those toward
whom we would direct our preventive and remedial measures.

1. We have an obligation to inform prospective parents of
their duties and responsibilities as parents, as well as to acquaint
them with basic needs of children.
2. We must create, implement, and facilitate social systems
so designed that human needs are met and satisfied with appro-
priate supplies insofar as possible.
3. We must treat and correct undesirable modes of be-
havior in order to relieve suffering, develop some degree of public
safety and security, and prevent recurrence of breakdown.

Clearly today, any effort designed to effect the emotional well-
being of a community must be directed toward all members of
that community. Obviously what I am talking about is education,
the giving of information, imparting knowledge where knowledge
is needed.
At this juncture a very important question recommends itself
which may be paraphrased somewhat as follows: "But, doctor,
you tell us that the roots of emotional disorder are found in in-
fancy, in child-parent relations, and that the earliest experiences
of the child become the substratum that will motivate the person's
behavior all through his life. Now, the experiences, memories,
and understandings of childhood are denied admission to adult
consciousness. Is it not true that the whole structure of the per-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
sonality erected in infancy, as it is outlined by the members of
your psychiatric science, becomes a vast unconscious domain in
the human mind? And if this is true, how then can you reach
unconsciousness? When your methods of education are received
by the conscious and alert levels of the human mind, how can
this have any effect whatever on the deep and hidden mainstream
of motivation?"
To this fundamental question there is an answer. The last
75 years in the development of our psychological sciences have
witnessed the growth of methods of treatment which have proved
themselves capable of altering unconscious patterns. These sys-
tems that we term psychotherapy and psychoanalysis exert their
influence on consciousness, yet they reach into the deepest
recesses of the human mind, even to changing those structures of
the mind that are unknown to the person himself. Thus we are
emboldened by the discoveries of this pioneer work to suggest
that perhaps education in any or all of its aspects, when exerted
upon the conscious awareness of people, may meet to some extent
the deeply lying needs that show themselves as social problems
and personal emotional disorders. The guiding factor in the
effectiveness of education is the emotional relationship and mu-
tual respect between the educator and the disciple.
It is my contention that ignorance plays a major role in the
development of emotional problems. One homely example that
illustrates this is the case of a woman in a large American city
who, while she was being fitted for new dentures, created such an
uproar in a dentist's office that she was subdued only with great
difficulty and was taken to the psychiatric department of a city
hospital. There she was diagnosed as psychotic and placed in
isolation because she was thought to be dangerous. Unfortunate-
ly, this woman, being foreign-born, was unable to communicate
easily in English. She languished in the psychiatric division for
several days until someone who could speak her language under-
took to interview her. It was then discovered that at the time she
made the contract with her dentist for new plates she had expect-
ed that her own teeth after extraction would be used in the mak-
ing of her plates. When she saw the actual dentures and realized
that the teeth were artificial, she created a furor because she felt
that she was being cheated and discriminated against. Following
a reasonable amount of education and explanation this woman

Aging and Changing Needs
became her usual rational self and was immediately discharged
from the hospital as nonpsychotic.
Another example is found in a situation that occurred in
Philadelphia at one of our Health Centers. A young mother had
brought her 2V/2-year-old son to the Maternal and Child Health
Conference because she believed that her son was developing
some kind of physical sickness. She stated that he was fretful,
restless, slept poorly, had poor appetite, and in every way was
taking backward steps in his development. It was learned that the
child's father, who was an abusive and violent alcoholic, had
deserted the family three months earlier, precisely at the time of
the onset of the child's problems. The representative of the Divi-
sion of Mental Health told the mother that in all likelihood the
child's behavior was a reaction to his loss, his separation from his
father whom he probably adored in spite of the father's delin-
quencies. The mother replied, "Oh, Doctor, he is only 21/2 years
old." The mother was then informed that children almost from
birth, or certainly soon thereafter, are intensely aware of their
environment. She was further informed that children become
attached and dependent upon members of their families but that
it is often difficult to know just how a child feels about a person
because his powers of expressing himself are different from those
of the adult. The nurse who witnessed this interview stated that
this mother obtained a tremendous amount of support and neces-
sary information from the discussion. She stated that the mother
listened with rapt attention and that she felt sure that this was
just what the mother needed.
It is seen clearly from these anecdotes and from countless
similar experiences in our daily lives that there is a huge potential
for preventive mental health to be found in education properly
Let us consider for a few moments the nature of education
itself and see whether or not it contains elements that are com-
mensurate with those to be found in a mental health educational
program. Careful study of the nature of education has led me to
the conclusion that it consists of six elemental purposes that may
be listed as follows:
1. Education suppresses the primitive.
It is almost obvious that formal education teaches proper
social systems of behavior. Through a system of reward, disci-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
line, and removal of rewards, education directs behavior into
civilized patterns and promotes a continuous suppression of those
impulses which in their pristine form would constitute instinctual
acting, which ofttimes is really dangerous. It has been said, "He
who tortures his environment is tortured in turn." Thus education
reveals that a life that is governed by impulses of the moment must
gradually be changed into a life governed by reason and internal
restraint. In this sense education may be regarded as discipline.
2. Education orients to democratic group activity.
Many children in the isolated environment of family
existence enjoy a kind of freedom and sovereignty which renders
them sometimes all too completely masters of the family group.
They develop what I regard in the immature person to be an inept
autonomy. The transition from home to school requires the slowly
progressive development of a philosophy of sharing with others.
This consists of the need to share pains and discomfort as well as
pleasures and satisfactions. It reveals the necessity for under-
standing that other people have sensitivity, and it promotes a con-
stant realization that in group cooperation lies the real strength
of a family, of an ethnic group, of a society, and of a social order.
There are probably no social institutions available that can ac-
complish this kind of group orientation as well as formal educa-
3. Education affords channels for the use of liberated
While the suppression of instinctual drives in their orig-
inal and primitive form is an absolute necessity, this, neverthe-
less, creates a problem, since the suppression of an energy does
not do away with it. Emotional energies which have no means of
being expressed create great excitement in people and will grad-
ually show up as agitated, hostile, and even berserk behavior.
Education meets this need by offering many constructive methods
for applying such energies. Education directs the individual into
organized work and play, and, in time, schools the instincts so
that they may be employed for the person's own benefit and to the
advantage of the group of which he is a member.
4. Education satisfies curiosity.
Curiosity is a primary instinct of the human being. It
reveals itself as interest and attention. At all ages the mind in-
quires into the many realities of nature that it does not under-

Aging and Changing Needs
stand. Should these curious and inquiring tendencies not receive
gratification, then the person invariably constructs his own fan-
tasy explanations that show up as infantile and childish theories
regarding nature and human behavior. Such fantasies are very
frequently fear-producers in people just as they are products of
fear. Since education gradually replaces ignorance with the
knowledge of the true facts, the instinct of curiosity is progres-
sively satisfied.
5. Education replaces fearsome unknowns with understand-
able realities.
This principle stems from the foregoing one. In the course
of being educated the immature person's infantile and often non-
sensical fantasies, which are his methods for explaining the won-
ders of the universe about him, become replaced by rational
explanations that relieve anxiety. Knowledge of the true facts
promotes some degree of tranquillity as well as the feeling of
satisfaction that one is more the master than the mastered.
6. Education acquaints the person with and sharpens his
skills in the use of the tools that are held indispensable
to civilization.
This extremely important aspect of educational systems
consists of the giving of information regarding the complexities
of human social existence. It also sets the stage for the selection
of an individual's lifework and helps him in the attainment of
those skills that will enable him to become proficient in his
chosen work and respected for his craftsmanship.
Now if we think of education as the sum total of all living
experiences, we shall find that five of the six basic elements in
education as mentioned above are principles of mental hygiene.

1. Instincts in their primary form are denied access to con-
scious behavior.
2. The mental and emotional energies liberated by this
process are made available for action that we know as sublima-
3. The individualistic and demanding drives of immaturity
progressively give way to a desire for social conformity and mem-
bership in a cooperative group.
4. The instinct of curiosity receives full attention and satis-
5. Ignorance of the realities of nature, which if unaltered.

Continuing Education in the Later Years
creates pain, anxiety, and fear, is supplanted by a rational com-
prehension of the world about us.
Thus we see that according to this concept, formal education is
really mental hygiene in action. We do not underestimate the
importance of education as the imparting of knowledge and in-
formation, but we cannot escape the realization that it is, in its
ideal form, also a mental health program.
This whole educational system would be ideal and would
most certainly be applicable to every age level in society were it
not for one major deficiency: the educators are not consistent
amongst themselves. Every individual in our society from in-
fancy forward is exposed to a series of contradictions and con-
trary drives. While living in a democratic society we are often
exposed to authoritarian attitudes; while sermonizing on the
values of virtue we expose ourselves to intensely stimulating
temptations from every angle. Every step forward in life consists
in some measure of abandonment of what has been learned and
the acceptance of new and contrary values. Many of our well-
meaning educators, including parents, teachers, and others, know
only too well that the instincts must be suppressed, but they do
not afford collateral systems for the use of mental energies thus
For example, people are often taught that sexuality is evil.
Yet they are not given the necessary information and orientation
into the nonevil aspects of this primary human drive. Aggression
in any of its forms is frequently utterly frustrated and the child
is told, "always be nice." As a consequence of this, the child
obtains the impression that aggressiveness is terribly forbidden
and that whenever he feels aggressive in any degree he must
repress it. As an outcome the child's conscience becomes un-
desirably strict and stifling and every impulse to be aggressive,
competitive, self-confident, or assured is accompanied by a feel-
ing of social guilt.
There can be no question in our minds that a person who is
unable to use his aggressive drives is just as handicapped and
just as crippled as the person whose sexual instincts are impotent
or perverse. We are thus led to the inescapable conclusion that
the constructive elements of education have been exaggerated
and intensified to extremes. We are, therefore, not surprised to
find, in the words of a great psychiatric mentor, that "mental

Aging and Changing Needs
hygiene as a practical movement is created by the same social
forces that limit its effectiveness."
Lest our discussion become too lengthy, let us now jump
quickly to more practical considerations. We find ourselves con-
fronted with two outstanding elements in human nature.
1. A human being by virtue of the very nature of his mental
structure is educable at any time in his life.
2. Every individual needs a carefully balanced system of
social education so designed that unnecessary warnings about
the instincts are avoided while at the very same time strong ex-
citations and stimuli from the environment are likewise dis-
To date our methods of suppressing the instincts have had
an effect exactly the opposite of that desired. They have made
instinctual acting seem inordinately valuable because of prohibi-
tions. As a consequence, we have placed exaggerated values
on periods of life in which the instincts may be expressed with a
minimum of alteration. Our society regards youth and its attrib-
utes as the be-all and end-all of life. Whatever comes after the
period of youthfulness is disregarded, avoided, guarded against,
and rendered meaningless. Almost any group addressed, when
asked when is the prime of life, gives the common reply, "between
the ages of 17 and 40." Interestingly enough this is the period of
reproductivity and this answer highlights the general tendency
toward sexual preoccupation. It would appear that the sexual
values of human existence are overstressed even in the face of
puritanical attitudes. We need to spread our values and to dis-
cover those other elements of human striving that can lead to a
sense of pride and pleasure in attainment and achievement.
Carefully designed education, properly related to the count-
less experiences of daily life, possesses a tremendous potential for
preventive mental health, where preventive mental health is de-
fined as the art of living.
I am concerned about some of our modern social tendencies-
yes, even about a conference of this type-which singles out
gerontology for study. In my estimation these are philosophically
stilted and degraded times. We give infinitely more attention to
the saturation of fats than to the art of partaking of nature's

Continuing Education in the Later Years
bounty. Who is not more concerned with girth, weight, and
youthful appearance, than with man's mind as the possessor of
the most humanizing potentials in this universe of galaxies? I
would ask, is the ability to take exercise, to have lithe muscula-
ture, to be slim really more important than to know how and
when to enjoy the ruby brilliance and rapturous bouquet of a fine
claret? Can fifteen minutes on an exercycle be compared in any
way with the reading of Khayyam's Rubaiyat? Is there any anal-
ogy between a lecture on living and living itself? Can love be
taught? Of course not, it must be lived. Life must be felt,
breathed, drunk in. It must enter our senses through every ave-
nue: by precept, by example, by reading, by doing, by making
mistakes, by succeeding, by failing; through pain, through pleas-
ure, through tragedy and great joy, through wit, through pathos,
through perfume and stench. There is no less to learn from the
muck of mankind and the barnyard than from the froth of de-
cency over the instinct-ridden common matrix of illusory civili-
In my estimation something in man's development is de-
stroyed as soon as he takes an aspect of living and remakes it
into an artificial discipline for study. I believe we have a major
obligation to strive to restore to people of all ages a sense of
naturalness and to families a sense of internal cooperative unity.
Living is education and being educated. Whoever loses con-
tact with the parade of progress has died emotionally. It is a gross
psychological misconception to believe that man's mind can
stagnate. It cannot. Mind is energy. It is the essence of motion. If
it is not moving forward progressively, it moves backward retro-
gressively. Thus even the mere maintenance of a status quo re-
quires continuous mental progress-continuous learning.
The healthy personality is an inquisitive personality, never
complacent in the face of ignorance. The mind must know. Edu-
cation for what? For the experience of living. To remain oriented,
to move with the mainstream of human development. So that our
life at every moment-whether age 39 or age 99-is our opus
Despite the social losses of the generation of elders, an old
trick of nature still is very much alive: the great love affair be-
tween generations one and three. The real concept of self as
authority, of self as ultimate leader comes progressively through

Aging and Changing Needs
love for the oldest generations. Such love, respect, reverence, and
faith cannot prosper if the elder models abdicate from leadership
and withdraw from the effort of comprehending cumulative
culture. Quality and value are in large measure comparative phe-
nomena. The excellence of Caruso is all the greater when com-
pared with Presley. The minuet is all the more beautiful when
contrasted with the twist. A symphony orchestra is all the more
wonderful when measured against a bazooka, ocarina, and wash-
board combo. How infinitely more glorious is the opera Turandot
after a glimpse of the burlesque. But all, both classic and evanes-
cent, must be experienced.
And, similarly, whether one will ever ride one or not should
not diminish the curiosity about the mechanics of a space cap-
sule. The use of atomic energy, a simple notion of the general and
special theories of relativity, the future preservation of food, the
population explosion, or an obscure disease in Ghana province
are all suitable fodder for the ever-inquiring mind. If the love
affair between the first and third generations is to grow healthy,
the generations must keep ever whetted the communication proc-
ess. The old, to be current, must learn continuously the language
of the young.
To live is to learn.
To grow old is to learn more.

The Educable Aged


THE PRINCIPAL CONCERN of this paper, the
descriptive characteristics of the educable aged, poses a complex
of questions. It is desirable to know whom we regard as aged, ac-
cording to a chronological or some other yardstick; what we mean
by educable, in terms of degree of educability, purpose of the
education, and the conditions under which it takes place; and
what are the social characteristics significantly related to the
educational process. Several crucial questions in this list cannot
be answered satisfactorily at present because we lack knowledge
about important aspects of the problem. Accordingly, this paper
will be a discussion of the basic question more than an answer
to it; but at least it should help to put the problem in perspective
and to point toward a solution.
The whole area of education and aging is commonly divided,
like Gaul, into three parts: education about aging, education of
the aged, and education of those who work or will work with the
aged. My task is to deal with the second part, education of those
already old, and the lower boundary of old age will be regarded
as the years 60 to 65 when retirement from employment often
comes. Strictly speaking, education may be defined, following
Webster, as the process of disciplining the mind or character
through study or instruction: and some would object to including
under this rubric a course of training that has as its object the in-

Aging and Changing Needs
culcation of the skill needed to perform a particular task or group
of related tasks, especially those that are vocational in nature.
Because it would be quibbling to insist on such a distinction at
this stage, we shall take the position that any study or instruc-
tional activities intended to lead to new learning, whether for the
better appreciation of Shakespeare, improved understanding of
world politics, or mastering the intricacies of shellcraft, may be
designated as education.
In a conference like this it is probably unnecessary to argue at
length that it is desirable if not essential to make provision for
educating the elderly. Therefore, I shall merely set out without
elaboration the gist of statements made several years ago by
Rabe (1950). She pointed out that older adults (1) need to be
kept flexible in their thinking and abreast of developments in a
period of rapid technological and social change; (2) need accu-
rate information about the aging process and help in adjusting
to it; (3) need to feel useful, and education may contribute to
achieving a feeling of usefulness; and (4) often need opportuni-
ties for developing social skills and finding new social relation-
ships. To this list may be added the need for assistance in
understanding the deeper meaning of life and in enriching their
use of leisure. The nub of the problem of the aged seems to be that
their resources-social, financial, cultural, psychological, techni-
cal-fail to equip them in many instances for satisfying living in
the present-day world. Later it will be noted that the elderly
themselves are victims of social forces they cannot control or
influence markedly; nevertheless, within limits imposed by so-
ciety and culture, education may enable individuals to lead more
meaningful and satisfactory lives.
It is well to begin by looking at the present educational level
of those comprising the population in which we are interested.
As is generally known, the elderly have had less formal schooling
than any other adult age group. As of March, 1962, half of the
population aged 65 and over had completed less than 8.4 school
years (U.S. Bureau of the Census, February 7, 1963), compared
with a median for the civilian population 25 years and over of
11.4 years and a median for persons aged 25 to 29 of 12.4 years.
The disadvantaged situation of older people can be made clearer

Continuing Education in the Later Years
by examination of some of the details summarized by the median.
The census report from which these figures are derived bases its
estimates on a total population aged 65 and over of 17,230,000
persons. Of these 17 million people, 1,101,000, or 6.4 per cent,
indicated that they had had no formal education whatever. An
additional 2,313,000 persons, comprising 13.4 per cent of the
elderly group, reported from one to four years of school. It is evi-
dent, therefore, that about one-fifth of the older people in the
nation fall into the class of the functionally illiterate (U.S.
Bureau of the Census, February 12, 1963), that is, those who
read and write, if they can do so at all, have so much difficulty
that written language cannot be used readily as a tool for learn-
ing. The elderly who ended their schooling at the eighth grade
level are particularly numerous, more than one-fourth of the total.
The aged segment of the population is deficient, compared with
all civilians aged 25 and over, in respect to those who attended
college from one to three years, or completed four years of college,
or pursued graduate studies.
If we look forward, on the other hand, the prospect is more
encouraging. Gauged by median years completed, the educa-
tional level of each successive age group below 65 is higher than
that of the preceding age group. Thus the median for persons 55
to 64 years is 8.9 school years; for those 45 to 54, 11.2 years; for
those 35 to 44, 12.2 years: and so on. From the standpoint of
exposure to higher education, the statistics also are impressive.
In 1962 one-fourth of those aged 25 to 29 years, the youngest
group of persons who normally will have completed their educa-
tion, had attended college for one year or more: one-fifth of those
35 to 44 years had done so; but only one-tenth of those 65 and
over had had this experience. Similarly, the proportions of the
various age classes with no formal education decrease from 2.4
per cent for those 55 to 64 years of age to 0.6 per cent for those
aged 25 to 29 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, February 7, 1963). It
seems evident that the share of the elderly likely to benefit from
education will expand significantly year by year and especially
decade by decade.
Among those who have already passed age 65, educational
attainment likewise decreases for the higher ages. The 1960
census data for Florida (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1962, Table
103), for example, show that the median for men 65-69 was 8.8

Aging and Changing Needs
school years while that for men 75 and over was 8.5. The figures
for those who received no schooling demonstrate the same rela-
tionship. Women in these higher ages in Florida surpass men
with regard to average school years completed, although the dif-
ferences are not of large degree. Of somewhat greater importance
is the decidedly inferior educational standing of older nonwhites
in the state. The median for white men is more than twice as high
as that for nonwhite men for each of the three age classes above
65; while the differentials in the case of white and nonwhite
women are nearly as great. The number of elderly nonwhite men
reporting no education at all is astonishing. Those with no formal
schooling comprised 22.7 per cent of nonwhite men aged 65-69,
26.5 per cent of those aged 70-74, and 29.1 per cent of those 75
and over. The range for nonwhite women with no education was
from 14.2 per cent at ages 65-69 to 24.9 per cent at age 75 and
above. The 46,665 nonwhite older people in Florida made up
almost 9 per cent of the elderly. A substantial share of this group
cannot realistically be regarded as good prospects for further
An aspect of the question of the educational position of the
elderly that should not be overlooked is the quality of their in-
struction. In most cases the persons who today are aged 65
through 69 began their schooling between 1900 and 1904, while
those aged 75 through 79 entered school between 1890 and 1894.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century American
schools often had rather short annual terms, sometimes lasting
only six or seven months. The teachers themselves had in many
instances rather limited preparation for their duties. One-room
schools accommodating eight grades or even more under the
guidance of one teacher were common in the rural areas. More-
over, attendance by the students was often irregular on account
of the competing demands of agricultural and other home duties.
In view of these circumstances, among others, it is probably un-
wise to equate the accomplishment of those who were students
as long as 60 or 70 years ago with that of middle aged and young-
er people. But it should be noted that some older people contend,
incorrectly in my opinion, that their primary and secondary train-
ing was superior to instruction at the comparable levels in today's

Continuing Education in the Later Years

Having considered the educational status of our older citizens
as reflected in census reports, we may turn now to another fun-
damental question: To what extent are people in the retirement
ages actually taking part in adult education activities? For-
tunately, data shedding light on this matter were collected by the
Bureau of the Census in the October, 1957, Current Population
Survey (Wann and Woodward, 1959). The survey included
the question whether the respondent during the past 12 months
had attended at least three classes or group meetings of certain
kinds of educational activities. The nine educational categories
listed on a flash card presented to the persons interviewed were
regular school; civic and public affairs; general education; home
and family living; Americanization classes; trade, business, or
technical courses: agricultural courses: recreational skills or
crafts; and any other classes of activities. The report character-
izes the resulting estimates as conservative because so many types
of activities often considered as adult education were excluded.
(The interviewer entered a negative response if the individual
indicated participation only in correspondence courses, on-the-
job training, private lessons, and individual instruction: if the
purpose was producing goods for personal or commercial use; if
less than three sessions were scheduled or if the individual
dropped out after attending only once or twice: if the meeting was
not primarily for educational purposes; if it was a regular Sunday
school or church service; and if the person was teaching any of
the courses described but was not otherwise attending.) Holden
(1958) also has emphasized the probable understatement of
numbers of persons participating. The method used in the survey
has the advantage of providing a clear and understandable defi-
nition whether or not it is regarded as somewhat rigorously
exclusive. Persons eligible to be asked the question by the inter-
viewers were those in the civilian, noninstitutional population
aged 14 and over except for those 14 to 34 years old regularly
enrolled in school.
It was found (Wann and Woodward, 1959) that 7.8 per
cent of the eligible population of the United States during the
past year had participated in one or more adult education activi-
ties as defined. The highest rate of participation prevailed for

Aging and Changing Needs
young people aged 14 to 19, 13.6 per cent of whom were enrolled,
and the rates decreased regularly for those in the ages above 19.
Of the 21,315,000 persons aged 60 and over, 515,000, or 2.4 per
cent, were taking part in adult education classes or group meet-
ings. The younger members of this highest age class, those 60 to
74 years of age, were enrolled at more than twice the rate for those
who were aged 75 and over (2.8 per cent compared with 1.1 per
cent). It appears, then, that about one in every 41 persons who
had attained the age of 60 was availing himself of the oppor-
tunity to attend organized classes or instructional groups.
Comparisons of the older participants and nonparticipants in
adult education activities with regard to sex, education, type of
activity engaged in, and type of institution or agency conducting
the activity may be made on the basis of data published in the
report. Women had taken class work in slightly higher proportion
than men (2.7 per cent of the eligible women as against 2.1 per
cent of the eligible men). On the average those participating in
classes and group meetings were at a considerably higher edu-
cational level. The median years of school completed by partici-
pants was 12.4, while the median for nonparticipants was only
8.3. Persons whose education had not progressed beyond the
fourth grade comprised one-twentieth of the participants and one-
fifth of the nonparticipants; nearly twice as large a share of the
nonparticipants had 11 years of school or less; and more than a
fifth of the participants were college graduates or better as against
only one twenty-seventh of the nonparticipants.
The largest number of elderly persons had taken educational
work in civic and public affairs: this group made up more than
a fifth of those involved. The second largest number reported
activities in the "other" category, including such diverse activ-
ities as safety education, remedial reading, and personality de-
velopment. The other categories that accounted for 10 per cent
or more of the elderly students were home and family living; gen-
eral education (such as literature, philosophy, or economics);
trade, business, or technical; and recreational skills (described
on the flash card used in the interview as "such as swimming
classes, dancing or bridge lessons, ceramics"). Compared with
all participants in adult education aged 14 and over, the older
persons were more prominently represented in classes and group
meetings about civic and public affairs, home and family living,

Continuing Education in the Later Years
agricultural courses, Americanization, and "other" activities.
They were underrepresented, on the other hand, in the areas of
general education and in trade, business, or technical.
Nearly a third of the persons 60 and over who engaged in
educational activity during the survey year indicated a sponsor-
ing agency or institution that fell into the "other" category; per-
haps this points to interests on the part of older people that do not
fit readily into the traditional classifications of sponsors. The
next largest number, less than one-fifth, had attended classes
carried on by group-work agencies. The only other sponsors of
activities that accounted for more than a tenth of the participants
were elementary or high schools and the Agricultural Extension
Service. The agencies and institutions that were more important,
relatively, in serving older students than all students were the
Agricultural Extension Service, the "other" sponsors, group-work
agencies, and community or junior colleges.

In the light of the data that have been presented, we may now
return to some of the basic issues bearing on the question of the
educable aged. It is notable, in the first place, that there is a wide-
spread belief in professional circles that education for the elderly
is needed and that it can achieve effective results. This convic-
tion is illustrated by the following words from the Background
Paper on Education for Aging prepared for the White House
Conference on Aging (1960), p. 59: "Education can introduce,
for many, that positive element in aging which helps develop a
healthy and satisfying maturity and encourages continued intel-
lectual growth in the later years. Education can give older people
the knowledge, skills, and understandings that they need for con-
tinued employment, second careers, and leisure time activities.
Through education, older people can continue and develop old
interests, explore new areas of learning, and broaden their out-
look on life." In addition, it is well established that older people
can learn and, under certain conditions, do learn (Donahue,
1956, p. 200). Finally, increased attention is being given to the
opportunities for educational activity accompanying the length-
ening of the period the average person spends in retirement.
Yet in the face of these statements, the evidence is that few
people in the retirement years turn to educational pursuits, how-

Aging and Changing Needs
ever broadly defined, as a means of filling their time and expand-
ing their horizons of knowledge and understanding. What is the
explanation of this seeming paradox?
Social and cultural factors undoubtedly have had a major
part in creating the present situation. Like other members of
society, older people act in ways that are very strongly influenced
by the generally prevailing attitudes, values, and behavioral pre-
scriptions. To a large degree they respond unwittingly to these
social and cultural influences. Among the most important of these
pressures for social conformity are the expectations as to the
proper roles for persons to play. Our society prescribes fairly
specific roles for the child, the young person, and the middle-
aged person. For example, as Pressey (1956) has noted, "the
young man in this country is expected to obtain a job, a wife, a
car, to raise a family, and to move up in his group (even advance
into the next group) in status and presumably in income. All
this holds until around the age of 60. Around that time, how-
ever, this whole situation seems to let up; the cultural and
social expectations subside ." The man and the woman past
60 are no longer expected to work toward the same goals or to
seek accomplishments as in the earlier years. The role of old
persons can be described better in terms of negative than of posi-
tive aspects, more in terms of what the elderly may not do with
social approval than what they should do.
The lack of positive behavioral expectations for the aged re-
sults in part from the traditional emphasis in a young society on
the importance of work, both for its own sake and for the status
it confers on the worker. The person who has left the labor force
to retire has lost his connection with a highly significant social
system; he no longer has a societal office to fill, and he has been
forgotten, in some degree at least, by those still vitally related to
the system.
The existence of this social-role vacuum at the upper reaches
of the life cycle bears importantly on the motivation of older
people to embark on educational ventures. The centrality of mo-
tivation to the problem of education of the aged has often been
noted (Anderson, 1955; Donahue, 1956; Stroud, 1962). At
earlier ages people turn to adult education mainly to improve
themselves vocationally and to increase their income. A study of
the users of university extension services conducted several years

Continuing Education in the Later Years
ago (Morton, 1954) indicated that more than 80 per cent of the
students had done so to raise their income, while fewer than one
in five had as their primary purpose improving their general edu-
cation for recreational purposes. The older adult lacks the drive
provided by the societal imperative to "get ahead" that operates
in the young and middle years. Moreover, he is likely to consider
formal learning the business mainly of young people and perhaps
inappropriate for him.
Another factor that contributes to the relatively insignificant
part education has for the elderly may be labeled opportunity.
Pressey (1956) has observed that opportunities for realization of
their educational expectations are essential to those older people
who may look favorably upon such activity. The obstacles to
opportunity range from awkward physical arrangements to un-
suitable social situations. Offerings often are scheduled at night
when experience shows that daytime hours are preferable; the
place of meeting may be inaccessible, too distant, or pose parking
problems for the participants. The courses presented may fail
to deal with the real interests of the elderly because they are
patterned after traditional courses tailored for younger people.
The middle- and upper-class orientation of the usual educational
institution and agency may create an unpleasant setting for
people who do not feel at home at the higher class levels, and
the courses for the elderly may be taught by the same college or
high school teachers who normally deal with younger people
(Pressey and Kuhlen, 1957, pp. 182-4).
Finally, there can be little doubt that declining energy levels
and physical limitations imposed by chronic conditions serve to
reduce the inclination of older people to engage in educational
activity. In this connection, as with the factors mentioned earlier,
there is ample room for individual variations; everyone can re-
call at least one or two of his older friends who have been active
in learning despite all of the pressures mentioned. But the reality
of physical slowing-up cannot be denied; as a minimum it re-
quires the individual in most cases to make a determined effort
to set off on new undertakings.
At this point we may summarize by observing that the edu-
cable aged appear to be predominantly those with the most

Aging and Changing Needs
educational attainment; that the elderly now living are more
poorly educated, on the average, than any other age group in
the population; and that there are strong forces in our society
militating against the wider use of educational resources by the
elderly. It would be imprudent and misleading to leave the matter
here, however. Our planning needs to be for the years to come,
and we must consider, therefore, the changing social scene and
the actions that can be taken to brighten the picture for the future.
Discernible social trends suggest that the problem of educat-
ing the aging and aged will become more rather than less impor-
tant. Average length of life continues to increase, bringing added
years in retirement. Each new cohort of the elderly will be
better educated than the last and thus likely to include more
candidates for further education. Urbanization of older people
will create conditions under which provisions of a formal nature
will increasingly be required to meet their various needs, includ-
ing the educational. Mobility of the aged also appears certain to
become more common, and the transplanted older person faces
problems of adjustment to his new environment to which instruc-
tion can make contributions.
The solution to the problem of increasing the number of the
educable aged depends upon our identifying the major points of
difficulty and making concerted efforts to overcome them. The
most troublesome of these difficulties involves improving the posi-
tion of the old person in society. This requires fundamental
alterations in our attitudes, values, and behavior patterns. Never-
theless, the outlook is far from hopeless, for the social movement
in behalf of the aging and aged already has made impressive
progress in focusing national attention on the situation and prob-
lems of the older citizens and in working toward amelioration of
the more pressing problems. If one reviews the number of new
public and private programs that have emerged in the past dec-
ade, he will be impressed by the possibilities for the coming
The factors referred to earlier as motivation and opportunity
are of a different order. Mainly these obstacles exist because of a
woeful lack of knowledge about education of the aged. The
background paper for the White House Conference on Aging
(1960, pp. 123-4), mentioned earlier, recognizes explicitly how
little is known about basic questions. For example, what are the

Continuing Education in the Later Years
interests of older people that can be harnessed to provide suitable
motivation? Why do older persons take part in educational pro-
grams; and why do they not participate? How do older persons
perceive education? The paper calls attention to the relatively
small amount of research now under way about the educational
and psychological aspects of aging and to the serious time lag
between discovery or experimentation and the communication of
the new knowledge to educators. It seems to me that the field
under discussion today is one regarding which we may legiti-
mately say that the most urgent need is for greatly expanded
research and for many more carefully-controlled trials and
demonstrations. The very limited successes achieved thus far in
educating the aged appear to show that good intentions and
energetic efforts in the absence of exact knowledge are not
enough. As we learn more, and as we translate our knowledge
into intelligent action, we can confidently predict that the number
of the educable aged will become larger and that education will
play a more impressive and useful part in the lives of the elderly.

Anderson, John E. Teaching and learning. Chapter 4 in Wilma Donahue, com-
piler. Education for Later Maturity: A Handbook. New York: Whiteside, Inc.,
and William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1955, pp. 60-94.
Donahue, Wilma. Learning, motivation, education of the aging. In John E. Ander-
son (Ed.), Psychological Aspects of Aging. Washington: American Psychological
Association, 1956, pp. 200-6.
Holden, J. B. A survey of participation in adult education classes. Adult Leadership,
6, 1958, 258-60.
Morton, J. R. University extension in the United States. Adult Education, 4 (6),
1954, 207-13.
Pressey, Sidney L. Major problems-and the major problem-motivation. learning
and education in the later years. In John E. Anderson (Ed.), Psychological As-
pects of Aging. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1956. pp.
Pressey, Sidney L., and Raymond G. Kuhlen. Psychological Development Through
the Life Span. New York: Harper, 1957.
Rahe, Henrietta. Educational needs of the older adult in rural New York State. In T.
C. Desmond, chairman. Young at Any Age (Legislative Document No. 12). Al-
bany: New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Problems of the Aging,
1950, pp. 160-65.
Stroud, James B. Learning in relation to aging. Bulletin, Institute of Gerontology,
State University of Iowa, Supplement No. 11, 9, November. 1962.

Aging and Changing Needs
U. S. Bureau of the Census. Current Population Reports. Population Characteristics.
Series P-20. No. 121, February 7, 1963.
U. S. Bureau of the Census. Current Population Reports. Series P-23, No. 8,
February 12, 1963.
U. S. Bureau of the Census. U. S. Census of Population: 1960. Detailed Character-
istics. Florida. Final Report PC (I)-itD. Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1962.
Wann, Marie D., and Marthine V. Woodward. Participation in Adult Education
(Office of Education, Circular No. 539). Washington: Government Printing
Office, 1959.
White House Conference on Aging. Planning Committee for Aging. Background
Paper on Education for Aging. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1960.

Differential Changes in Interests and
Learning Abilities


WHEN ONE GETS BEYOND certain age land-
marks it becomes increasingly difficult to become objective about
the abilities of the aged. For example, I would like to believe
that as we grow older we become more able to solve life's prob-
lems, more able to cope with the increasingly complex body of
technical knowledge, more able to discard outmoded practices
and pick up, on the basis of our past experiences, more suitable
learning methods and make important decisions more quickly
and correctly.
In short, probably all of the wishes, hopes, and, in some cases,
beliefs of those who count their own increasing years are for an
increase in their youth. The standards, values, and demands of
early adulthood dominate the desires of the aged-to-be, and have
done so from the time of the aging King David, whose advisors
brought a young virgin to his bed to maintain his warmth. The
waxing and waning of sex capacity or interest was probably the
unconscious and in some instances conscious criterion of success-
ful retention of youth in old age. Huxley's (1939) remarkable
novel, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, perhaps best illus-
trates the shallowness of youth's criterion applied to old age.
When the aged couple, now ageless through the use of a particu-
lar formula, are finally discovered, they are existing in animal-

Aging and Changing Needs
like form, in a cage, hidden under a mansion. Their principal and
only characteristic lifelike activity is a brief but frequent sexual
I cite these as introductory warnings. Assigning the values
and standards of youth to those of age serves to distract us from
the truth wherever it is with regard to the actual state of learning
ability in old age. My suggestion is that the facts of both history
and psychology may lead us to the recognition of certain values
more appropriate to age than to youth, and that these values may
significantly affect what we learn, when we learn it, and even
how we learn it. Changing values through the changing years
may brighten some memories and sharpen some skills while dim-
ming and dulling others.

The generalized ability to learn or to solve problems may be
referred to as intelligence. A general decline during old age in
intelligence is supported by study after study with a few signifi-
cant exceptions. From the earliest studies with children, mostly
cross-sectional studies, it became apparent that intelligence
roughly paralleled physical growth. Reviews by Jones (1959)
and Jerome (1959) indicate there is a sharp spurt up to the late
teens or early twenties, followed by a gradual decrease up to 40
to 60 years, at which point a sharper decline in effective intelli-
gence sometimes seems apparent.
Two specific findings were reported this past year which sup-
port the general decline hypothesis. Using one of the most reliable
indications of intelligence, the drawing of the human figure, Gil-
bert (1962) demonstrated last year that effectiveness in human
figure drawing declines after the age of 20 with a marked drop
after the age of 60. Of concern is his observation that there is a
marked similarity between the misrepresentations of the schizo-
phrenics and those of normal older persons. Intelligence and
problem solving have often been related to the context in which a
problem is presented. More effective problem solvers can resist
the external context within which the problem is presented and
solve problems regardless of the apparent contextual distractions
or limitations. However, Comalli (1962) found older subjects less
able to resist context in perceptual tasks.
More refinements of the general decline hypothesis are emerg-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
ing in current research. These include studies aimed at sorting out
specific kinds of learning abilities which hold up in older years in
contrast to those which decline; they also are represented by those
studies which have with care isolated those factors which tend to
explain learning changes in age or those which isolate factors in
youth or age which can result in better retention of learning
ability in old age.
For example. Reed and Reitan (1962) demonstrated that
older subjects are better at "stored memory" items while younger
subjects show superiority in immediate adaptive ability. These
findings are related by the experimenters to a theory of plasticity
developed to account for brain-behavior changes. They suggest,
along with Fitzhugh (1962), that abilities directly related to cor-
tical function deteriorate as does the cortex itself in old age.
Bilash and Zubeck (1960) found that, generally, intellectual
ability progressively declines from the teens to the 70's while
some specific abilities hold up to age 40 and then also decline.
Attention and motivation are among the factors isolated by
Wimer (1960) as either related to intellectual functioning or as
determining its vigor in old age. He favors these more discrete
factors over a more general plasticity theory to account for his
findings. An interesting sex difference in old age learning is re-
vealed by Rhudick's report (1962), which indicates that need
achievement and intelligence are correlated in males but not in
females. This may reflect the pressures of youth characteristic,
not of youth of today, but of the youthful years of the aged when
need achievement was so much more demanded of men than of
Tasks requiring speed or time pressure show the greatest
changes with age (Jerome, 1959). Poorer performance on speed
problems, usually demonstrable with human subjects, is not al-
ways seen in studies with aged animals. While many of the
studies using highly specific tasks such as maze learning and card
sorting, eyeblink conditioning, and conditioned hand withdrawal
all show difficulties for the aged, a more general study of academ-
ic learning (Sorenson, 1930) showed that elementary school
teachers were less affected by their age in an academic course
than they were by length of time since having taken a previous
course. In other words, those who had maintained a continuous
contact with learning did not show a deterioration in learning.

Aging and Changing Needs
This kind of study, as distinguished from short-term studies of
laboratory learning tasks, illuminates a more significant implica-
tion of continuing education, to be discussed in more detail
Studies of memory carried out on the aged are complicated by
the deficit in original acquisition; that is, older subjects acquire
less new learning in a short period of time and, therefore, show
less apparent retention in the memory test. However, Jerome
(1959) reminds us of the possibility of long-term retention in the
charming study of Madora E. Smith:
From the age of 8 to 13 years she studied the answers to the
107 questions in the Westminster Shorter Catechism by distrib-
uted practice and reviewed it until it was believed that she
could recite all of them in order at one sitting without error. More
than 20 years after the last incidental recall of this material, she
tested her memory of it for the first time and then at the age of
60, sixteen years after the first retention test, she attempted a
second recall (Smith, 1951). This time (second recall) 53 an-
swers were repeated perfectly as against 54 previously (first
This, of course, is perhaps even more than most Presbyterian
ministers should hope for.
Studies of transfer and interference or inhibition factors
in learning also generally favor the younger subjects (Jerome,
1959). While there are variations in the differences with varying,
highly specific interference problems, the differences consistently
favor the young. Animal studies also tend to support this general
If one were to look for an excuse for deteriorating performance
with age, one not likely to come to mind, but supported by a
number of investigators, is the tendency of older subjects to be
more cautious, to make fewer errors while taking more time, that
is, to be inclined toward sins of omission rather than of commis-
sion. This, of course, may also be of some interest to clergymen of
any faith.
Korchin and Basowitz (1957) report a study in which older
subjects, averaging 78 years of age, did significantly poorer in
verbal learning tasks than did subjects averaging 27 years of age.
However, they make the observation that older subjects were at
a distinct disadvantage in dealing with new material which could

Continuing Education in the Later Years
not be integrated with earlier experience. In other words, the
younger subjects were not handicapped by previous kinds of

While the data from a wide range of studies (Jerome, 1959;
Jones, 1959) show the characteristic rapid rise in intelligence over
the preadolescence years and a general far more gradual decline
to senility, different abilities decline at different rates. Verbal
abilities decline at a lesser rate than performance abilities, dif-
ferent subjects decline at different rates, the more intelligent de-
clining less than those of lesser ability. Many such studies have
been made with a wide range of occupational groups-prisoners,
army officers, industrial workers, railway operators, aircrewmen-
and over a wide national sampling-American, French, Italian,
Japanese, and German.
Corsini and Fassett (1953), using a prison sample, suggest
that their results do not support the gradual decline hypothesis.
In addition to the prison study, there are several other exceptions
to the gradual decline hypothesis. One involves the extensive
testing in the longitudinal Stanford Study of the Gifted in 1929
and 12 years later in 1941. This actually covered an age range
from 20 to 50 for all subjects. Rather than showing a decline on
two intelligence tests, the group showed a gain of about one-half
standard deviation. More dramatic is the study by Owens (1953)
who found a stack of Army Alpha tests given to Iowa State
College freshmen in 1919. He looked up 127 of the original 363,
retested them with the same test and found a general gain of
about one-half standard deviation. Additional testing of the
group in 1961, 42 years later, still showed no evidence of decline
(Owens, 1962). Jones (1958) tested a group at adolescence and
again at the age of 33 and found a correlation between the two
tests of .90 for the women, .84 for the men.
Robert W. Kleemeier (1962), who shares a distrust of cross-
sectional studies in contrast to longitudinal studies, tested some
200 subjects at Moosehaven over a 12-year period. Some subjects
were tested as many as four times. His penetrating analysis
showed that, where marked declines occurred, they were not re-
lated to the age of the subject, but rather to apparently impend-
ing death. A marked drop in the curve was characteristic of four

Aging and Changing Needs
subjects who died shortly after the final test. From this, Kleemeier
derived a terminal drop hypothesis which associates intellectual
decline to adverse change in health or organic integrity of the
person rather than to so-called "normal age change."
Another theory being given increased attention in studies of
intellectual decline is the theory of disengagement, referring to
decreasing social participation or disengagement from relation-
ships and obligations during the later years.

Theoretical positions are of prime importance at this point in
the history of knowledge concerning the senium. Research is well
beyond what might be expected of a relatively youthful aspect of
medical and of behavioral science. It is time for the emergence of
theory, for the testing and discarding of theory, and for the
modification of theory. An effective theory or theories, well-
grounded in empirical research should provide the guidelines for
the massive contemporary educational and social welfare pro-
grams, federal, local, and private. This is in contrast to much
of our work in child psychology and in educational psychology
when theory preceded research or was used in untested form to
provide these guidelines.
The more effective theory will be one which in simplest terms
explains the most. A theory of use and disuse, implicit in the
disengagement theory, seems elegantly compatible at present
with the longitudinal data. Those functions, mental or physical,
which are kept in use throughout the life span maintain them-
selves, or at least show the lower rates of decline in the more
mature years. This position represents the human being as a
continuous output system rather than as a limited capacity sys-
tem. In the same sense that continuous physical work throughout
the life-time results in better physiological health and longevity,
similarly continuous mental activity in the middle years and in
later years seems to be one of the major components of a healthy
intellect in later years. The research on longevity heavily favors
those whose regular occupation requires constant physical activ-
ity. It should be no surprise that the parallel would be true for
mental longevity. Those who exercise their mental abilities over
the years should survive with sharper wit, wisdom, and intel-
lectual worth.

Continuing Education in the Later Years
In the past, educational programs for the aged have been
thought of as a diversion-somewhat like the do-gooders' benev-
olent plan to keep idle minds busy. In other instances, their
purpose has been to provide retraining, the development of new
or improved vocational competence. Both of these objectives are
equally virtuous, although perhaps the latter is a more practi-
cal virtue. But the issue may be one which, while it is sometimes
linked with virtue, has an even more compelling purpose; intel-
lectual survival itself.
It is true that the data presently available point to intellec-
tual survival through continuous mental activity for those with
higher intellectual levels at the start. The meaningfulness of the
same approach with all levels, however, is by no means belied
by the data, and reason bespeaks its probable pertinence. It only
remains for research to demonstrate whether those with lesser
levels of intelligence will in fact maintain their mental vigor
and defeat the decline for decades longer by engaging themselves
in continued or renewed mental activity, perhaps by challenging
educational experiences.
In the same fashion that the pattern of American adulthood
has been to avoid physical effort, to seek the work savers and life
shorteners of our affluent age, so seemingly the pattern of intel-
lectual inactivity has found favor with the modern adult Ameri-
can. Jobs and vocations become more routine and require less
creativity as the years in the same job mount and are counted
as rungs in the ladder to ultimate ease-retirement. The evening
hours, waiting for the false nirvana of retirement, are lulled by
the comforting emptiness of that certain vast wasteland. The
ideal cocktail party is an idiot's delight and even dinner-table
conversation is rarely wearing intellectually. For most of us, and
particularly since we have complained about softness in the
schools, our major intellectual challenge is helping a grade school
youngster with his homework. All of this forebodes a shorter
intellectual life; these current days of mindless living forebode
hastening years of lifeless minds; they weigh upon the curve of
decline and it sooner or later becomes too late to right the ful-
According to an ancient Talmudic saying, "Uninstructed per-
sons, the older they become, the more their intellect becomes dis-
tracted whereas of aged scholars the older they get, the

Aging and Changing Needs
more their mind becomes composed." (Lehrman, 1948, p. 24).
Our general practice is to take our best minds when they retire
and encourage them to work in the garden to maintain their
vigor; we retire them to a moderately vigorous outdoor life, fish-
ing perhaps. Those who spent their middle years in active mental
work and sedentary posture we now advise to forget the mental
life and retire to the physical. Some have said that wars were
invented by the old to do away with the competition of young
men and that retirement was invented by the young to punish
the old.
The general goal and value of an active mental life for the
aged shows distinctive consistencies with the ageless valued vir-
tue of the aged, namely "wisdom" defined as "matured or sea-
soned learning": and it also meets well the negative criterion
noted above-that the values established by society for the aged
should not mimic youth, but rather should be organically related
to the lives and purposes of the aged themselves. In his De
Senectute, Cicero (Tibbitts, 1957) tells of his many peers who
pursue scholarly activities.
... If it has any scholarly interests stored up as it were prov-
ender, nothing can be more enjoyable than an old age of leisure.
I used to see GaIIus-your father's friend, Scipio-studiously
charting heaven and earth. Dawn would overtake him when he
had begun some problem at night, and night when he had begun
in the early morning. How he enjoyed predicting eclipses of sun
and moon far in advance! In studies less recondite but still re-
quiring acuteness, what pleasure Naevius took in his Punic War.
... I even saw old Livius Andronicus; he presented a play in the
consulship of Cento and Tuditanus, six years before I was born,
and lived on till I was almost a man All these men I have
named we have seen ardently engaged in their several depart-
ments in old age How can the pleasures of feasting, games,
and harlots be comparable to these? All of these involve learning,
which, in wise and cultured men, increases with age. Creditable
is the verse of Solon I have quoted, "I grow old learning many
new things." There is no greater pleasure than the mind's.
It would be too revealing of the values of a professor to say
that an active mental life is provided only by taking college
courses. Certainly, however, the provision of organized learning,
of mental activity through a variety of experiences, would be the
major resource that a wise and benevolent society could provide

Continuing Education in the Later Years
for its increasing numbers of aged. At the other end of such a
scale would perhaps be the organization of kinds of discussion
groups characteristic of many societies of the older population.
Somehow this parallels the "fishing and shuffleboard" approach
to physical effort. While I cannot entirely develop disenchant-
ment with such modest efforts, I would hope for more for most of
the aged, certainly for the more capable intellectually.
If we were to tailor our courses or experiences toward this
goal, then the structure of these mentally stimulating experiences
ought surely to be dictated by the unique characteristics and
needs of the developmental level represented by the group.
In many ways the older student is a gift to a teacher; he is
essentially noncompetitive inasmuch as he is no longer career
oriented. He is largely freed from the status race characteristic
of our economy. His purpose is not to seek a degree but to learn.
He is also freed from the demands of grades and from the de-
mands of professional groups or employers who wish him to
learn things for their convenience rather than for his own. He is
free to learn simply for the delight of it; how sad that some wait
so long in life for that happy circumstance. He is also free from
the nonsense of much of our college teaching and he does not
need to brook such nonsense. He is truly an independent, free
These characteristics and the data on learning must guide us
in developing educational programs for the mature. These char-
acteristics suggest that learning be noncompetitive, free discus-
sion at least alternate with presentation of information, free
choice of content he permitted based on individual interest, in-
structors be able to withstand the no-nonsense demands as well
as other personality uniquenesses of these unusual students, the
students themselves have more opportunity to participate in the
structure and content of the work, and that the content be related
to the interests of the population.

One of the least explored or exploited areas of concern for
aging is the area of interests. However, the general pattern evi-
denced in the physical life and the mental life seems to be
repeated here. What happened earlier affects later life. Interests
seem to be relatively stable and are heavily related to the work

Aging and Changing Needs
and leisure time activities of early and middle adulthood. Strong
(1931) found only a 7.5 per cent change in interests over a 40-
year period. In another study (Strong, 1951) a .75 correlation
was found between early interests and those of 22 years later.
Increase in interest over the years was shown in cultural activities
(supporting the drive for educational opportunities), solitary
activities (supporting the disengagement hypothesis), the reading
of magazines, going to art galleries, and making speeches. De-
creased interest is seen in activities involving change from habitu-
ated patterns, in physical activities, and in competitive activities.
Strong's earlier study (1931), which corroborated the stability
of interests through age, utilized a subject population of profes-
sional or semiprofessional men. His data showed almost no
change in interests, likes, or dislikes after the age of 55. However,
the data also support the significance of individual differences
which seem to exceed in importance the group differences shown.
This would point toward more individual planning for educa-
tional programs in the later years in contrast to the "shotgun"
approaches often utilized. These so often seem to center upon
hobby and social dancing activities for all. Strong's 1931 study
was cross-sectional; his later, longitudinal study (1951) shows
essentially the same stability of interests. This consistency in data
of cross-sectional studies and longitudinal studies contrasts with
the differential impact of findings from such research method-
ologies in learning.
While interests are more often measured by the paper and
pencil declaration of one's interests, a more valid approach is
perhaps seen in the determination of activity or participation.
Of particular significance is the emerging realization that the
educational or cultural level of the aged person to a certain
extent relates to the level of his activity. A number of studies
(Havighurst and Albrecht, 1953; Pressey and Kuhlen, 1957)
have pointed out that educated retirees spend less time in
"loafing" than do laborers and unskilled workers. The "not doing
much of anything" kind of activity (if it may be called activity)
is the typical picture we have of the aged retiree and, if not
entirely accurate, it is not entirely inconsequential. Morgan
(1937) reported that about 10 per cent of the activity of his
sample of 381 people over the age of 70 was described as
"resting, sitting in the sun, watching out the window, not much

Continuing Education in the Later Years
of anything." About a third of the activity of the group centered
about "housekeeping, housework, helping with housework, and
caring for grandchildren or an invalid." Another third involved
"hobbies, games, and intellectual pursuits; reading, studying,
writing letters, and playing music." It is this latter third, a
significant percentage certainly, which is of consequence in plan-
ning educational programs. The motivation to read and study
seems present to a significant degree.
The newspaper reading activities of a group studied by
Schramm and White (1949) showed increased interest over the
later years in news about public affairs, supporting the hypothesis
of increased political interest. Other rising interests in the news-
paper reading included editorials. Interest in comic reading
dropped drastically in old age for both men and women. Even
though there is a drop in the reading of books during the middle
years, according to Link and Hopfitt (1946) a slight increase
occurs at age 60 and over. In any event, the popularity of reading
books, newspapers, and magazines is significant for educational
planning. Television viewing has not been as conclusively
studied as has radio, but the popularity of radio (almost equal
to that of newspaper reading) indicates the possible use of these
media for educational programs. Meyersohn (1961) reports a
series of studies indicating conflicting data on whether or not
older persons watch TV more than do younger viewers. There is
no doubt, however, but that such viewing is for a significant
length of time for both the old and the young. Meyersohn con-
cludes that older adults have greater interests in concrete, non-
fictional entertainment. He sees greater interest for the aged in
programs having personal or "self" context where the older per-
son plays an important role.
Interest in religion seems to have a particular meaning for the
aged, the reason for which is perhaps illustrated by the report of
Cavan, et al. (1949). Their study reported that all of 28 subjects
over the age of 90 were certain of an afterlife. In a study of
religious practices of Roman Catholics, Fichter (1952) noted
that 75 per cent of male subjects over 60 made their Easter duties,
83 per cent attended mass every Sunday, but only 17 per cent
received monthly communion. Cavan, et al., also noted a steady
increase in Bible reading, listening to religious programs, or the
less active forms of religious interest in their subjects.

Aging and Changing Needs
Of concern in the discovery of interests and activity of the
aged is the effect of the environmental setting, institutional or
otherwise. Chalfen (1956) found few differences in interests be-
tween members of an institutional group as compared to mem-
bers of a group attending a recreation center. However, there
was an interesting difference in the number of activities in favor
of the recreation center members. Similar comparisons made by
Fink (1957) indicate that the conversations of the institutional-
ized more often reflect concentration upon the past.
There are some interesting sex differences. Anderson (1959)
cites an unpublished study by Symonds indicating that men
maintain their interest in the opposite sex better than do women.
Up to the ages of 45 or 50, women retain interest in personal
adornment and then lose that interest while the opposite appears
true of men. Other studies (Terman and Miles, 1936; Strong,
1943) show a decrease in masculinity scores for men with age,
but this may be accounted for largely by the change in interest
from activities involving physical skill, competitiveness, etc.,
while the feminine interests for women are more compatible with
old age and continue to hold up.
"There can be no doubt that the elder must rule the younger,"
announced Plato (427-347 B.c.). In those societies, primitive
and eastern cultures where old age has been worn as a crown of
glory, the principal role of the aged was to participate in the
councils, the Councils of Elders. Evidence does indicate a reten-
tion and in some cases strengthening of political and social in-
terests where the wisdom of age is sought rather than its childish
folly (Pressey and Kuhlen, 1957).
The reputed interest of the aged in political activity is at best
too narrowly represented by participation in political pressure
groups aimed at welfare legislation (Pinner, Jacobs, and Selz-
nick, 1959). An increase of 15 per cent in the number of voters
over age 50 during this century is reported by De Grazia (1961).
The nature of their political activity also is expected to be con-
servative (Tingsten, 1937; Campbell, Gurin, and Miller, 1954).
Kuhlen's data (1951) show that extremely high percentages of
college graduates above the ages of 64 participate in political
interests such as represented by discussing politics with friends,
listening to political speeches, and voting in local elections. In-
terest in local politics increases until very late in life, even if

Continuing Education in the Later Years
diminished energy decreases participation. Though this repre-
sents one of the few general areas where the interests of the aged
can be localized, it illustrates again the significance of education.
The need for a wise and well-informed electorate, for educated
civic and governmental leaders, is not just compatible with a
democratic political system, but rather determines the success of
such a body politic.
If, then, interests are to be taken as a key to developing edu-
cational programs, the studies caution us to attend to individual
differences, particularly to the earlier interests of the aged person.
Generally the avoidance of educational programs involving phy-
sical activity is indicated. Politics, religions, home and family,
and self are of prime interest generally. Media proven to be pop-
ular include the newspaper, television and radio, magazines and
books, in that order. However, it seems important to recognize
that these studies are lessons of the past and of a past which has
seen little attention paid to cultural and educational develop-
ment in the later years. The many individual exemplars of signi-
ficant change in later years must leave open for us the possibilities
of development for new interests and new activities in old age.

We come perhaps then full circle to discover that, while old
age does not measure up well using the yardstick of growth,
these very studies show, where they have taken the pains to
look, that one reason for this is that age is using a different stand-
ard, based on changing values and changing needs. While our
own wishes to prolong youth rather than to discover maturity
may interfere with our careful evaluation, the light of research
indicates to us that man's mind may be preserved and enriched
throughout the life span. Longitudinal studies particularly in-
dicate the possibilities of continued mental vigor provided mental
activity encompasses the adult years as well as the golden years.
But the gold of those years needs to be continuously polished
with educational programs calculated to challenge and inspire
wisdom. The stable pattern of interests of the aged provides a
guide for the direction of the development of continuing educa-
tion. Such planning for mental activity as well as physical activ-
ity in later life is not to be thought of as a diversion for the
useless nor as a gift to the helpless. It is rather for the very intel-

Aging and Changing Needs

lectual survival of the aged. And for that very human society and
culture itself is provided the distinctive savor and satisfaction
that comes only with very old wine. If a society requires wisdom
in its councils, then it requires carefully planned experiences in
continuous learning for the mature and aged.

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Pinner, F. A., Jacobs. P., and Selznick, P. Old Age and Political Behavior: A Case
Study. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959.
Reed. H. B. C., Jr., and Reitan, R. M. Changes in abilities associated with the
normal aging process. J. Gerontology, 1962, 17, 472 (abstract).
Rhudick, P. J. Manifest needs and intellectual functioning in later life. I. Geron-
tology, 1962, 17, 474 (abstract).
Schramm, W., and White, D. M. Age, education, economic status: factors in news-
paper reading. Journalism Quart., 1949. 26, 149-59.
Sorenson, H. Adult ages as a factor in learning. J. Educ. Psychol., 1930, 21,
Strong, E. K. Change of Interest with Age. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press,
Permanence of interest scores over twenty-two years.
J. Appl. Psychol., 1951, 35, 89-91.
Vocational Interests of Men and Women. Stanford,
Calif.: Stanford Univ. Press, 1943.
Terman, L. M., and Miles, C. C. Sex and Personality: Studies in Masculinity and
Femininity. New York: McGraw Hill Book Co., 1936.
Tibbitts, C. (Ed.). Aging in the Modem World. University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor. 1957.
Tingsten, H. Political Behavior. London: P. S. King and Son, 1957.
Wimer, R. E. Age differences in incidental and intentional learning. J. Gerontology,
1960, 15, 79-82.

Are the Churches Meeting the Needs of
Older People?


RECENTLY I WAS participating in a Reli-
gion-in-Life Week at a Southern state university. The featured
speaker for the Protestant group was a distinguished churchman
who was graduated from Oberlin in 1914 and, although officially
retired, is now a visiting professor at a leading theological semi-
nary. I do not know his age, but in our terms he is a senior citizen.
The platform speaker for the Jewish people was listed in the pro-
gram as having been born in 1881, and recently he has made a
significant discovery about the builder of the second temple in
Jerusalem, which adds greatly to biblical understanding.
Both of these men are young, virile, and far from finished.
They have gotten up early and stayed up late to talk with stu-
dents and faculty about their religious problems. But it has oc-
curred to me all week how very unusual this is. It so seldom
happens at all-not in our time.
The church, like the rest of our institutions, places a high
premium on Youth and usually worships with the rest of the

Continuing Education in the Later Years
people at that altar. John Ciardi (1962) put it well, and perhaps
not too overdrawn, in his column in the Saturday Review:
America is a youth-centered nation. The future has always
been our mystique, and since the young will be around, by and
large, for more of the future than we dotards can expect to see,
we are forever ready to put our hope in the young and to cut down
the trees that the light may fall upon the saplings.
Not only do Americans honor youth out of all fit proportion,
but it has become every citizen's duty to stay young no matter
what his age. Who praises Gramps for having acquired exper-
ience, perspective, and wisdom? The eulogist at his funeral,
maybe: but while Cramps still lives, our highest praise is that he
can still ride a bike or toss a baseball with the kids. Who praises
Gramma for her maturity and understanding? The minister,
maybe, in the course of his Mother's Day sermon. But in all the
rest of the year her first glory is that she has kept her youthful
The true, functioning priesthood of America is that arcane
and holy order of scholars and magicians whose abbey is Madi-
son Avenue and whose duty it is to create for us the image in
which we shall live. Who does more than Saint Media to order
our lives, set our goals, and technicolor our dreams? Who more
than Saint Persuasion, whose ritual is Motivational Research,
knows the truth of our souls? And to what have these blessed
commanded us if not to eternal youth? Mother's one glory has
been laid upon her as the duty to avoid sags, bumps, spreads, and
wrinkles: father's to think young, live modern, and stay on the go.
We shall manage to love them, perhaps, when they lose
character and begin to let age mark them, but we can love them
only with a touch of shame: we cannot honor them, for they have
failed themselves and us, and they have failed in their duty as
There is much to be said, in fact, in favor of legal euthanasia
for any citizen over forty who loses his figure, cannot keep up
with at least moderately fast doubles, and who cannot, after
dancing all night, put in a hard-driving day at the office. Why
should we withhold from him the kindness we dispatch to stray
dogs by putting them away painlessly? As things are, any citizen
over forty who loses his job is more than half dead at the employ-
ment office. Putting him out of the way is only one further step-
and less than a half-step at that-to letting the young have it all.
Once folly has become the national passion why quibble about
degrees of folly?

Aging and Changing Needs
The fact is that every nation that has made youth its idol has
marched to folly and ended in disaster. When muscle, stamina,
agility, and all the athletic a-mentalities become the religion of
a people, the following sacrament is always to go to war. Russia,
Hitler's Germany, Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy, Tojo's Ja-
pan, and now Red China have all made a religion of their youth
groups-and of war. The only real point of all that muscle, after
all, is to flex it. And certainly it follows that the more muscle a
nation commits itself to flexing, the less mind it will care to en-
tertain. Youth is muscle and age is thought. Why let thought get
in the way of our canonization of the young? Better to do away
with the aged and the aging and let us get to our follies without
interference from carping intellect.
Robert and Leona Rienow (1961) have summarized master-
fully the problem in their article in an earlier issue of the same
Within the next twenty-four hours, 3,000 more persons will
join the ranks of those who are euphemistically called the "senior
citizens." Altogether, so long as they can get to the polls, Ameri-
ca's oldsters make a potentially formidable army of 16,000,000
voters. Badgered by economic worries, harassed by failing health,
they are for the most part in dire need. Three-fifths of all persons
over sixty-five receive less than $1,000 a year in money income:
only one-fifth receive more than $2,000: and about one-tenth re-
ceive no personal income whatsoever. They are, almost without
exception, cruelly lonely, suffering from feelings of rejection and
This is the "golden age of life"-long anticipated, glorified
as a period of ease and enjoyment. Yet it has the highest suicide
rate of any age group in the nation.
The challenge of the church to reach older people has been
well put in an editorial (1962b) in the Christian Century:
In the next ten years there will be sharp changes in the popu-
lation profile of the United States. These changes put to the
churches of the nation an unprecedented challenge and oppor-
tunity. Are the churches ready? According to estimates by the
Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C., the segment
of the population over 65 years of age will increase by 20 per
cent to a total of about 20 million people. During the same
period the group of people below 20 years of age will grow by
25 per cent to approximately 87 million. The population of the

Continuing Education in the Later Years
United States thus grows younger and older at the same time.
People under 20 and those over 65 are, in the main, not working
and are in this sense dependent on the productivity of those who
are. What this means for the economy of the nation can be
glimpsed from the bureau's prediction that by 1980, if present
trends continue, there will be more American people in the de-
pendent ages than in the working and supporting ages. It is cer-
tainly not too early to ask what this means for the churches of
the nation. How can the hosts of young people moving in upon
us obtain the thorough religious training which the churches do
not even now provide the younger generation? And, equally im-
portant, what is the role of the church in utilizing the skills of our
elderly citizens not only for the benefit of the nation but also to
protect the older generation against the mortifications of useless
old age? No part of the social structure bears a heavier respon-
sibility to youth and to old age than does the church. More than
any other institution the church has a duty to youth and an op-
portunity to add the blessings of the good life to the gift of ex-
tended life. But there is as yet little evidence to indicate that
the church recognizes the enormity of the approaching task or
takes its duty seriously and its opportunity enthusiastically.
It is my observation that the church, somewhat like the larger
segment, has gone through a three-phase evolutionary-and I be-
lieve it is evolutionary-process in approaching its responsibility
to older people.
The first stage is bewilderment, amazement, and anger. There
is downright amazement that so many people are still alive at
such advanced ages. I called on an elderly clergyman friend of
mine sometime ago while he was recuperating from an appen-
dectomy. He was 92 years old at the time. He was recovering
nicely and was soon out of the hospital. A few weeks later I
happened to see him sitting on the bench in front of the hospital.
Thinking that he might be in need of some service, I approached
him and so inquired. He said: "Oh no, I have my car; I've been
calling on the sick, and am just resting a few minutes." I was
amazed and bewildered. I met an older friend of mine in the bank
the other day. He drives a truck, a small pick-up truck, to deliver
items sold in an appliance store-radios, heaters, TV sets, refrig-
erators, and the like. He was on his way to make a delivery. In
the course of conversation he told me he was 90 years old and

Aging and Changing Needs
when I expressed my amazement and even doubt, he said simply:
"If you don't believe me, look at my driver's license." I could go
on-but illustrations need not be numerous. This is a part of the
period of adjustment to the facts of life. Elizabeth Breckenridge,
Consultant on Aging to the Illinois Public Aid Commission, is
quoted in an article by Margaret Frakes (1955) as saying that
we owe that terrible figure of 65 "to the German Bismarck's
search for some plan to popular acclaim. Public relations expert
of his day, he hit on the pension idea and picked sixty-five as
the starting point; since comparatively few people then reached
that age, the cost would be negligible!" The church has been
amazed that so many do reach that age and beyond. But the
general reaction has not been just amazement and bewilderment.
This turned to anger-or should it better be called hostility? At
any rate, we felt guilty about our feeling toward the people who
kept on living to be older and older and so the church joined
others in giving soft names to hard circumstances. The church
too called them "senior citizens," and this was the beginning of
the second phase.
Let us call this, for lack of a better phrase, the phase of com-
pensation for our guilt by making them comfortable; by taking
care of their physical needs until they die. Retirement homes were
built so that it is estimated that church-built and -sponsored
homes for the aged now number about 700, housing some
140,000 persons (Voris, 1962). Churches, like other organiza-
tions, got busy keeping the oldsters busy. Golden Age clubs and
others by similar names were organized under church sponsor-
ship. Ways and means of entertaining this growing number of
people were pursued with devoted diligence: square dance
classes, arts and crafts courses, instruction in card and other
games were the order of the day. Conferences of varying length
and nature were arranged and often were well attended. "Take
care of their physical needs and keep their minds away from the
real problem," seemed to be the solution to the situation.
Let it be said here that neither by content or tone of voice do
I intend to be critical of this emphasis. This phase of the evolu-
tionary process I wish to describe is a necessary one and I would
wish to be critical of us in the church only if we fail to see that

Continuing Education in the Later Years
this is not the end. It may not even be the end of the beginning,
but it is not the end of the problem.
Convincing evidence is now too great that this is not the
answer to the rapidly growing problem. John R. Voris (1962),
in his eightieth year, spoke about it this way:
Through every form of mass communication we have for
some time been made sensitive to the problems of the nation's
"16 million aging." The overwhelming emphasis has been, quite
naturally, on the medical and housing needs of those 16 million.
Yet though we can be thankful for the benevolent impulse actuat-
ing this emphasis, we must acknowledge that it can lead to a dis-
torted picture of the situation. For to envision this company of the
elderly as beneficiaries rather than benefactors of the public is to
ignore the oft reiterated declaration that opportunity must be
given to the senior citizen to express himself through service to
A substantial proportion of the 16 million do not need or de-
sire public assistance beyond their Social Security payments,
while many have enough income even without those payments.
I am convinced that a solid impact can be made on the country
by able persons who have reached the age of retirement. Shall
this impact be made by members of a new political bloc bent on
getting ever more from the government, or by patriots ready to
render to humanity the service of which they are capable? On
the answer to this question by older people themselves and by
society in general depends the future welfare of us all.
Recognition of the limitations in meeting merely material
needs has also been noted in an editorial appearing in the Chris-
tian Century (1962a) regarding action taken by the United
Church of Christ in Ohio:
Revolutionary revision of church provision for help to the
aged, who will soon number 10 per cent of the nation's popula-
tion, characterizes the national program launched by the United
Church of Christ in Ohio. Instead of taking elderly (over 62)
persons from their communities and housing them in institutions,
the U.C.C. plan permits them to live in their own communities,
to work if they choose and are able, to be near their families
and to take part in community activities. Central "core" units
will provide health, vocational and other services, plus housing
for persons needing care or who prefer to live with others. The
project is an outgrowth of the recent merger of Congregational

Aging and Changing Needs
Christian and Evangelical-Reformed churches into the United
Church. The first unit of several planned for Ohio will be located
in the Lorain-Elyria area. An important aspect of the plan is the
omission of any compulsion on residents to remain should they
desire to leave. Residents will be charged only for facilities used
and services received. As needs change, residents will be per-
mitted and helped to change their type of housing. No ad-
mission charge, life-tenancy agreement, assignment of assets
or contract for support by relatives will be made or required.
The initial $25,000 grant for setting the project in motion has
been made by the United Church Board for Homeland Min-
istries; Roland S. Larsen, now minister of the Community
Church at Kipton, Ohio, has been named executive. The prin-
ciples on which this new and genuinely creative enterprise
will be based are (1) recognition that senior citizens have a
diversity of needs, (2) encouragement of self-respect and in-
dependence and (3) continued participation by older people in
communities where they have their roots. Each project will be
locally managed through a corporation representing local
churches and community agencies, and will be financed through
full use of federal assistance programs to pay costs of construc-
tion and with the help of community, voluntary, and tax-sup-
ported resources. This development is, in our opinion, more likely
to meet the needs of the average older person than any church-
related project of which we have heard. It deserves to succeed.

Again let me quote from the pen of John R. Voris (1960),
writing this when he was 79:
More than any other institution, the church is able to give
older persons a chance to utilize their abilities, developed through
long practice, in helping to staff many of its ongoing programs.
And it can do more: encourage its older members to continue to
make an impact on some of the burdensome problems of this
space age. There is great potential for good in the abilities of the
masses of people over 60 years of age that, aroused and capi-
talized, might spell the difference between unwholesome social
trends and righteous, creative enterprise. The roots of the ma-
jority of these people stem from an America that was simpler,
surer, less materialistic, more conscious of existence governed by
a supreme being. Let those abilities be expended in service that
will redound to society's good instead of permitted to atrophy
through inaction and expectation of coddling at the hands of

Continuing Education in the Later Years
Older persons, free of the need to spend their days at work
and their evenings fulfilling responsibilities associated with work
and family, might well be inspired to engage in public service.
As it is, except for isolated examples-Eleanor Roosevelt and
Herbert Hoover come to mind-we have ceased to expect any-
thing from retired people in the way of public leadership or
selfless service. This need not be the case. They could use their
skills in the work carried on by local missions. They could offer
help and advice to young men and women launching business
enterprises. They could join in the efforts of local agencies which
seek to aid the unfortunate in their own age group-help them
find part-time jobs, secure nursing home care when needed, staff
the clubs and other social ventures set up to serve the leisure-
time needs of older people in need of fellowship. They could
offer their services to the many civic and welfare enterprises
which are trying to render needed help or improve local condi-
tions but are handicapped by lack of staff and funds. Beyond
offering concrete aid, they have the ability to help develop civic
conscience, support efforts to create constructive opinion on do-
mestic and international issues, fight intolerance and injustice,
give moral support to unpopular but deserving causes, work to
give patriotism a more significant meaning.

Mr. Voris goes on in this article to cite examples of how this
idea has actually been successful.
And so the third stage is in process. Let me borrow a phrase
and call this stage, "The New Concern for Old Age."
The National Conference on Aging in 1950 included some
churchmen. They summarized in broad general terms the new
concern for old age. Now let me give you my own summary of
what general form this third stage in the church's approach to
the aged should take.
In 1920 when Oskar Schulze was Commissioner for Welfare
in Leipzig, Germany, the city operated a home at Johannes for
2,000 aged persons. He got many complaints about the food, the
medical care, the beds, and the like-so many that he finally
visited the home. He found everything in excellent condition ex-
cept that the residents were doing nothing. He immediately set
about to assign them significant tasks to do; gardening, yard
work, and other simple but significant work. The complaints
came to an end.
In 1931 when Mr. Schulze had fled Germany and was work-

Aging and Changing Needs
ing as a refugee in a settlement house in the United States, he
observed that there were no old people; and out of his interest,
it is said that the first Golden Age Club came into existence.
We must allow the aged to do significant work as long as they
are able and want to do it. This involves at least two things.
First, it involves a change in the image of youth as the ideal
state of human existence. It means a restoration to their rightful
places of both age and youth. When a 45-year-old mother is
made to feel guilty if her hands can be distinguished from those
of her 20-year-old daughter, or when she is told that her hair-
dresser should be the only one "who knows for sure," the signs
are clear that some need is upon us for re-evaluation of our
misplaced veneration of youth and age.
Secondly, it is evident that there is a need to rethink the
validity and even wisdom for the automatic shelving of people
just because they have reached the age of 65. Let us face the
fact that this device may have been a good one for Bismarck to
achieve his ends but that it is a bad one for us to achieve ours.
Let us face the fact that these goals, if not impossible, are
well-nigh out of hope of realization. The image is too deeply
imprinted in our minds to be quickly remedied. The economic
problem of jobs for a younger population is too pressing to hope
for immediate change in the "sixty-five" retirement. Except in
isolated personnel cases, we can no doubt expect to see this
lowered and not raised. So what do we do?
These are some proposals.
1. The church can and should help prepare people of all ages
to live with the problem-and to prepare for it so that the sudden
shock will not be so great. I do not entirely agree but there is
truth in Cicero's assertion that "those who have no resource
within themselves to live a good and happy life, find every period
of life burdensome; but those who seek their blessings within
themselves regard nothing as evil that the necessity of nature
brings." We do not, I think, favor people, young or old, by
providing for them what they can better do for themselves. Un-
necessary emotional socialism is no less demonic than an
economic one. The keenest genius is called for in determining
when to provide and when not to do so, and no serious person
would declare the task is easy.
2. Not only has the church an opportunity and responsibility
to prepare persons for the inevitability of aging, but it has

Continuing Education in the Later Years
similar chance and obligation to help them prepare for death.
The church too has fallen victim to the false evaluation of life
in quantitative terms. Life is valued in terms of how long it is
lasting. I suspect that these words will not be generally wel-
comed, but human life will be ultimately judged not by how
long it lasted but rather by how it was lived. Death is not
ultimately to be feared, but to be prepared for. We are all in some
sense suffering from a common incurable disease called life: we
are, as it were, a terminal case. If the church really believes as it
proclaims that there is no death, then let us more proudly practice
this; and prepare ourselves, and others who will allow it, for the
joy and the grief of death and life eternal. You ask how do we
do this, and I answer that I do not know how to answer that
question. But we need to learn how to answer it.
I conclude with the simple recognition that my presentation
is not an optimistic one, but neither is our task. Let me close
with the words of an earlier editorial quotation in the Christian
Century (1962 b): "... what is the role of the church in utilizing
the skills of our elderly citizens not only for the benefit of the
nation but also to protect the older generation against the morti-
fications of useless old age? No part of the social structure bears
a heavier responsibility to youth and to old age than does the
church. More than any other institution the church has a duty
to youth and an opportunity to add the blessings of the good
life to the gift of extended life. But there is as yet little evidence
to indicate that the church recognizes the enormity of the ap-
proaching task or takes its duty seriously and its opportunity

Ciardi, John. Prejudices and damnations. Saturday Review, 1962, 45, 16-17.
Editorial. Reform begins in service to aged. Christian Century, 1962. 79, 6.
Editorial. Church challenged by population profile. Christian Century, 1962, 79,
Frakes. Margaret. Multiplied in the land. Christian Century, 1955, 72, 1201-6.
Rienow, Robert and Leona. The desperate worlds of the senior citizen. Saturday
Review, 1961, 44, 11-13; 55-56.
Voris, John R. Let senior citizens serve. Christian Century, 1960. 77, 251-52.
Voris, John R. Retirement homes, untapped resource. Christian Century, 1962,
79, 226-28.
Note: The quotations from Saturday Review are reprinted by permission of the
authors. The quotations from Christian Century are copyrighted in the year of
publication by Christian Century Foundation and reprinted by permission of the
Christian Century.

2. Programs for Continuing Education

The Public School, Community College, and
the Aged


THE FACT that there are 4,500 people in
the United States who are 100 years of age or more, indicates
that older people can be with us a long time (Gilmore, 1961).
There is reason to believe that there will be many more cen-
tenarians around by the time the 17.5 million people who are
now 65 years of age or over have lived out their lives (Staff on
Aging, 1962).
Old age for many people is an indisputable fact of life today.
Not too many years ago it was rare. Today, there is no novelty
to it. Yesterday, old age was an individual problem. Today, it may
become a social disaster. Yesterday, the relatively few old people
were absorbed into their own families, or the most unfortunate
were put into the county poorhouse or insane asylum. Today, most
old people do not have children who are both able and willing
to take care of them: nor are county poorhouses acceptable
Most of the 17.5 million people past 65 years of age today
have not "made their pile"; they cannot live forever after in
peace and comfort. Private retirement funds are largely inade-
quate even when added to social security for fortunate ones who
get both incomes.

2. Programs for Continuing Education

The Public School, Community College, and
the Aged


THE FACT that there are 4,500 people in
the United States who are 100 years of age or more, indicates
that older people can be with us a long time (Gilmore, 1961).
There is reason to believe that there will be many more cen-
tenarians around by the time the 17.5 million people who are
now 65 years of age or over have lived out their lives (Staff on
Aging, 1962).
Old age for many people is an indisputable fact of life today.
Not too many years ago it was rare. Today, there is no novelty
to it. Yesterday, old age was an individual problem. Today, it may
become a social disaster. Yesterday, the relatively few old people
were absorbed into their own families, or the most unfortunate
were put into the county poorhouse or insane asylum. Today, most
old people do not have children who are both able and willing
to take care of them: nor are county poorhouses acceptable
Most of the 17.5 million people past 65 years of age today
have not "made their pile"; they cannot live forever after in
peace and comfort. Private retirement funds are largely inade-
quate even when added to social security for fortunate ones who
get both incomes.

Continuing Education in the Later Years
Left to themselves, the overwhelming majority of these older
people do not know how to meet their problems of inadequate
income, accident and health hazards, loneliness, and a terrifying
surplus of leisure time. This is not cynical, and this is not crude:
there is ample evidence in our society that few people can give
good answers to any of the multitude of special problems con-
fronting old people today. The world has not been prepared for
their presence.
It must be noted in passing that such observations are not
about the poorly educated old people alone. The plain truth is
that a shockingly high percentage of our best educated and most
talented people dread the approach of old age and, when it
comes, often look upon this period as wasted years.
In a sense, the large numbers of old people we have with us
today are pioneers. They are facing dimensions of living, because
of their very numbers, about which we know very little. The
problem, then, has become one for society as a whole rather than
one for just individuals.
Among the resources that have been marshalled to help make
lives of older people more productive and more satisfying are
public schools and colleges. They have responded, but not as a
unit or a whole, because, of course, they are not.

There is always a temptation to see resources as we would
like to possess them. The "Public School" refers to fifty separate
state systems of public education. These are variously broken
into such smaller local units as county, borough, township, or
city systems. This same factor, only more so, refers to the growing
movement for public community colleges. Few states can really
boast of the kind of planned systems of community colleges to be
found in California, Michigan, Florida, New York, or Mississippi.
Even the most ardent enthusiast would hesitate to speak too
clearly about what the "Community College" is doing for the
Indeed, this complexity, and lack of similarity in over-all
organization presents a special problem for those older people
who look hopefully toward their public schools. It is difficult for
such schools to act together; it is difficult for them to study their
problems in concert; it is next to impossible to speak for them

Programs for Continuing Education
about agreements, or programs, or staff, or students, or income,
or plans, or accomplishments. Community colleges, too, have the
additional handicap of trying to define their unique existence in
a world where their accreditation depends upon organizations
dominated by four-year colleges and the universities.
There are and should be few illusions about any nationwide
system of public school adult education. It simply does not exist.
Only 31 per cent (175) of the school systems returning question-
naires to the survey reviewed below, indicated they had full-time
directors. Public school education and public school buildings
are oriented with extremely few exceptions toward the education
of children and adolescent groups. Adult education, in public
schools, still remains peripheral, living off the borrowed capital
of day schools, and largely filling in where they left off in
elementary, high school, or vocational subjects. Even in its best-
established centers in large cities, many of its emergencies and
on-going problems are rooted in its hazily defined position.
H. Lee Jacobs (1961), Research Associate, Institute of
Gerontology, State University of Iowa, in spite of these pitfalls,
has recently given us a comprehensive report about what is going
on in the public schools of our country in the development of
courses for aging or the aged. Out of his extensive investigation
he has drawn eleven pertinent observations:
1. A majority of the educational offerings for middle-aged
and older adults, having originated less than a decade ago, and
about 50 per cent within the past six years, trial and error in pro-
gramming still loom large. For this reason, more systematic sur-
veys and assessments of older adult needs and interests are
paramount, especially at the local community level.
2. This study shows an advance of approximately ten years
in the age level of public school adult education enrollees within
little more than a decade. Older adults are "going back to
school" in ever larger numbers. This may necessitate some change
in emphases, as regards certain aspects of the total adult pro-
3. In view of the comparatively new phenomena of greatly
increased leisure and sharply rising number of oldsters having
reached retirement, the need for more daytime classes and ac-
tivities for this age level is definitely indicated.
4. The trend toward lowering the age level for beginning of
education for aging is emphasized by the findings of this study.


Continuing Education in the Later Years
Much important "aging education" may well be initiated in the
middle or earlier years. Some experiments to this end have been
undertaken, but more needs to be done.
5. As this investigation has shown, there is a growing de-
mand for "vocational re-appraisal" and "second career" em-
phases in the public school adult education program. Traditional
"liberal" adult education, though not to be neglected, is not
6. Although non-segregated education, from the standpoint
of both age and sex, was favored by the majority of respondents
in this study, approximately 40 per cent did indicate that "spe-
cial classes" for some aspects of "aging education" are desirable.
This should give pause to those adult educators who would ban
all such "special classes."
7. While this study indicates that up to 30 per cent of the
school systems are giving "some consideration" to the educational
needs of middle-aged and older adults, only about 10 per cent
have thus far made a serious attempt to "legitimatize" such offer-
ings as a continuing part of the school curriculum. It seems clear
that significant advance in this matter hinges on better informed
school boards and administrative personnel.
8. One of the surprising finds of this investigation is the
almost total neglect of "former school teachers" as a source of
instruction and leadership in the education for aging program.
In view of the teacher shortage, it would seem that here is an
important and available source of supply.
9. Up to three-fourths of the school systems responding indi-
cated that their adult education programs were still on the "addi-
tional chore" basis. If, as we are being told, a major need of the
nation in these critical times is for better informed and more
responsible adults, it would seem that more realistic effort should
be made to raise the status of adult education in our public
school systems.
10. This study shows very spotty and confused evaluation
procedures in adult education generally, but especially in educa-
tion designed specifically for the middle and later years. If, as
all agree, we learn by experience, this may be said to be especially
true in a comparatively new field, such as education for the
11. The findings of this study support psychosocial research
with the aged which has long shown that the older individual's
hesitancy and apparent difficulties in learning are due more to
the faulty image of "aging," held by both the older person and

Programs for Continuing Education
the community itself, than to any actual intellectual deficits. For
this reason and because the general welfare demands it, the
schools are obligated to encourage serious educational effort on
the part of our middle-aged and older citizens.
These statements and conclusions appear to be reasonable.
Some will say they are largely what could have been predicted
before the survey. This type of confirmation is needed desperately,
however, in the field of education. Perhaps any generalizations,
conclusions, or recommendations based on figures collected about
public school adult education have to be held suspect, in part.
This is due to a lack of commonly accepted terms, definitions,
time requirements, accreditation standards, or agreements in
Quite evidently, Mr. Jacobs and others who are doing the
yeoman service of gathering material for studies in adult educa-
tion are working with admittedly inadequate tools, and with few
accepted and commonly known definitions. He could, and
probably should have suggested that the greatest need for a
serious study of education programs for older citizens is for our
scholars to go in and tidy up the field, to establish "meets and
bounds" for terms used and reports to be made. Indeed, Dr.
Coolie Verner, formerly of Florida State University, and now
with the University of British Columbia, has made such work
one of his major fields of research and writing.
There is no study for community colleges comparable to that
of Jacobs for high schools. From what is known, there is little
doubt but that they also suffer from a burgeoning newness which
evades attempts at definitions, classification, or standardization.
Dr. Helen S. Wilson (1960), Extension Specialist in Geron-
tology, University of New Hampshire, now a Coordinator for
the Community Services for Older Adults, Department of Public
Health, Bellingham, Washington, states:
During the last few years more and more institutions of higher
learning have become actively interested in several areas of edu-
cation for aging. These have offered programs designed to pre-
pare middle-aged persons for retirement, assist older adults in
making adjustments in retirement, and train lay and professional
persons working with the aging and aged. Many colleges and

Continuing Education in the Later Years
universities have developed broad programs of research. An
important aspect of each of these has been to promote education
of the public to an awareness and an understanding of needs,
interests and abilities of older people.
She reports further that by 1959, 16 universities had estab-
lished institutes and divisions of gerontology. The Department
of Health, Education, and Welfare in a recent publication (Staff
on Aging, 1962), has brought this number up to 75 institutions of
higher learning offering studies in some form of gerontology.
These branches conducted and encouraged research, provided
consultant service to communities, prepared materials and re-
ports, and offered educational programs for professional and lay
Another trend which she noted in 1959 has also been much
A very few universities and colleges offer scholarships or tui-
tion without cost to men and women of retirement age. These
include: The University of Rhode Island; Russell Sage College,
Troy, New York; Boston University Evening Division; Univer-
sity of Dayton; Utica College at Syracuse University; and
Everett Junior College, Washington.
Dr. Wilson concludes by stating:
In moving forward there appears to be need for colleges and
universities to define, strengthen and accelerate their programs by
1. Specific courses in gerontology on the undergraduate and
graduate level.
2. Continued research.
3. Training opportunities for those working with the aging
and aged, both lay and professional persons.
4. Improved instructional materials and a far wider use of
visual aids.
5. Special training for teachers of older adults.
6. Opportunities for counseling of older adults in selecting
educational programs.
7. More educational programs of great variety. These need to
be developed to fill expressed interests and needs of middle-aged
and older persons. Such programs must be easily accessible, at a
time convenient for older adults and at such a small cost they
may be afforded on a retirement income.

Programs for Continuing Education
8. Many more radio and television program series presented
by qualified persons.
9. Far greater flexibility of programming.
10. Greater dissemination of information and knowledge.
11. Additional services to local communities as well as
assistance to state agencies and organizations.

Everett Junior College in Everett, Washington, and Manatee
Junior College in Bradenton, Florida, are typical of the many
community colleges that have accepted responsibilities to supply
older citizens with worth-while study opportunities. Manatee has
programs five days a week from 9:30 to 11:30 A.M. Its course in
Healthful Living for Senior Citizens has attracted special atten-
tion and commendations. After five years of successful work with
a Post-Retirement program, Everett Junior College has developed
a Pre-Retirement course which it is currently trying. The careful
and rich workbook which Everett has developed, Yesterday,
Today, and Tomorrow, is worth being reviewed by every person
interested in this field. Efforts by Everett Junior College, how-
ever, to develop a strong course in Early Education and Later
Maturity have not proved successful.

The Los Angeles City Schools have developed a more ex-
tensive and richer program of services for older citizens than any
other public school system. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard
Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Adult Education, and Dr.
Ann Morgan Barron, Teacher-Consultant in Gerontology, a
program has been worked out acquainting administrators, super-
visors, and teachers with the special aspect of this field of adult
education and encouraging them to develop programs in their
communities. In addition, typical course outlines are suggested
for lecture series, forum programs, health programs, film discus-
sions, and the like.
Dr. Samuel E. Hand (1956) of the Florida State Department
of Education has given public school leaders one of the best
and most practical publications to assist them in taking care of
older citizens in their programs. His approach is very direct; he
classifies the physiological, psychological, and social character-
istics of older adults, and then he lists the modifications that will

Continuing Education in the Later Years
have to be made in our physical facilities and programs if we
expect to attract and help older citizens.
If we know older people require more time to learn, let us give
them more time. If older people cannot see as well or hear as well
as younger people, let us provide more light, use larger print, get
them close to their work, and speak more slowly and more dis-
tinctly. If older people resist learning new things because they
are afraid of "losing face," let us accept the problem in stride and
work around it. If older people get along better with their own
peer groups, let us arrange such groups as far as possible. If
older people prefer daytime hours to evening hours for their
classes, let us work towards this end. In other words, Dr. Hand
suggests flexibility within the programs for older people so that
we can adapt them sensibly to the needs of such students.
With such fine leaders as Dr. Clark Tibbitts and other
specialists on aging on its staff, the Department of Health, Edu-
cation, and Welfare is making a remarkably rich contribution to
a better understanding of the problems of our senior citizens.
Their reports are comprehensive, scholarly, and convincing. Their
encouragement and help in research have been indispensable to
a fuller understanding of the comprehensive problems involved.
The National Council on the Aging with headquarters at 49
West 45th Street, New York City, is also increasingly notable
for its research, studies, publications, and consultant services. In
addition, the National Council is acquiring a public reference
library in this field which may become second to none. Indeed,
it now has much material on topics of education for senior citizens
that is not available anywhere else.

In taking stock of these brief remarks about educational pro-
grams for senior citizens, it seems clear:
1. Research studies, reports, conference, institutes, books,
magazines, and tons of publications cover the field of aging and
the aged. It is doubtful if any area of human life has received
such prompt and comprehensive coverage from the time when it
became a popular and visible social problem. In spite of this.
there are relatively few people taking special courses about
aging, and there are few of the older citizens who attend any
kind of program in either the public schools or colleges. A good

Programs for Continuing Education
estimate of the percentage would range between 1 and 3: to be
rash, the figure would reach 5; but the hard fact is that there is
no evidence that 95 per cent of our older citizens in the country
as a whole are interested in or are being reached by educational
programs designed by public schools and colleges.
2. Even without increasing knowledge about the field, and
our shared experiences in programing, it is clear that no con-
certed effort has been or is being made to establish special courses
for the aged in the public schools. There is not even agreement
that there should be special courses, or courses just for older
3. Part of this situation, in the public schools, is due to the
fact that relatively few places in the United States have full-time
adult education directors. Part-time leaders or part-time evening
school principals cannot possibly give such programs their major
interest. Adult education cannot be developed by a second job
or a part-time job approach: the usual programs under such
conditions reflect traditional and already popular courses.
4. In the relatively few places in the country where there are
full-time public school directors of adult education, there are
fewer than five that have specialists in education about aging
and for the aged. There are, to be sure, specialists in some of
these places in literacy education, home and family living, arts
and crafts, and vocational education. Wherever there are large
and complex adult education programs, those areas under the
direction of specialists are more extensive and more thoroughly
organized. If this is natural and to be expected, it would be wise
to secure specialists for that part of the program intended for
older citizens; that is, if we are serious in our expressed concern.
5. Most people in adult education knew more about pro-
graming and reaching older citizens ten years ago than they
know today. Older adults have not crowded into educational
courses either in the public schools or colleges. There has been
no great cry for ever more courses. Many adults obviously do not
want to be bothered: some have no confidence in their ability to
learn along with others: others have their doubts that the public
schools can be of help; and still others have excuses of varied
forms that are stronger than a desire to secure more education, or
stronger than any appeal the schools have used thus far.
6. Institutions of higher learning and public schools have
unavoidable responsibilities as the principal educational institu-
tions of our country, but it would be wise for each to translate its
area of services in terms of its particular competencies. It is
obviously foolish for institutions of higher learning to take over

Continuing Education in the Later Years
the work of the public schools, or for the public schools to pre-
tend to do the work of institutions of higher learning.
7. General adult education courses or liberal arts courses
are not enough; irrespective of our desire to keep older adults
from too materialistic an outlook, there has to be more specific
attention to help older adults learn how to increase meager in-
comes: adult vocational education will have to stretch beyond
Smith-Hughes or any existing legislation or programs.
8. Offering older adults opportunities to attend regular adult
education or extension courses has never been sufficient in meet-
ing the educational needs of these people. They need and should
get such special consideration as: free tuition, free study ma-
terials, special groupings, special lighting, special comfort station
facilities, day-time programs, special arrangements of materials,
and many opportunities "to run things to their own liking."
9. And, finally, any educational system that has gotten be-
yond the "talking and coordinating" stage will have no difficulty
in getting help to get underway. There is good consultant help for
the asking; there are tested and successful courses that can be
used as starters; there is a body of professional literature that is
readily available, and there are plenty of smart, informed, capa-
ble, and eager older people ready and willing to help in those
leadership roles that will keep such programs well balanced be-
tween inspiration and practicality.

Gilmore, Forrest E. How to Plan Now for Your Retirement. Houston: Gulf Pub-
lishing Co., 1961. p. 24.
Hand, Samuel E. A Review of Physiological and Psychological Changes in Aging
and Their Implications for Teachers of Adults. Tallahassee: State Department
of Education, 1956.
Jacobs, H. Lee. A Report of a National Survey of Programs in Education for Older
Adults. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1961. (Quoted by permission
of author.)
Staff on Aging. U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare. Program for
Senior Citizens in 1962. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1962.
Wilson. Helen S. Educational programs and services of colleges and universities
related to the aging and aged. Adult Leadership, 1960, 9, 8-9; 27-28.

Mrs. Henrietta F. Rabe. Associate in Education for the Aged, in the New
York State Department of Education, and Dr. Jean Maxwell. Consultant, Social
Education, and Recreation Programs, for the National Council on the Aging, have
been most helpful in providing materials and advice. The references below, in
addition to those cited above, were found useful in preparing this paper.

Programs for Continuing Education

Current Population Reports, Series P-25. No. 251. Washington: Bureau of the
Census, 1962.
Institute of Gerontology Series. 11 vols. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida
Press, 1951-62. This series is one of the best existing overviews of the field of
gerontology for educators and civic leaders.
The Notion and Its Older People, Report of the White House Conference on
Aging. Washington: Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office,
Statistical Bulletin. New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, November,
Ward, Betty A. Education of the Aging, annotated bibliography. Washington:
U.S. Office of Education, Government Printing Office, 1958.
Cohen. Charles S. Research on mental abilities and aging. Adult Education, 1962,
XII, (3).
Henrickson, Andrew. The role of the universities in the education of the aged.
Adult Education, 1962, XII, (5).
Moberg. David O. Life enrichment education needs of older people. Adult Leader-
ship, 1962, II, (6).
(Special Issue), Adult education and aging. Adult Leadership, 1960, IX, (1).
(Special Issue), "Basic Facts" on Older People, Information Service, Bureau of
Research and Survey, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.,
475 Riverside Drive, New York 27, N.Y., 1965, XLII, (3).
A Gerontology Course, Los Angeles City Schools. Los Angeles, California, 1960.
Healthful Living for Senior Citizens, Manatee Junior College, Bradenton, Florida,
Retirement, A Second Career, New York State Department of Education, Bulletin
No. 8, Albany, New York.
That Extra Dollar in Later Life, Four Courses of Study, 1958, New York State
Department of Education, Albany, New York.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (A workbook), Everett Junior College, Everett,
Washington, 1962.

The Adult Education Program of
Pinellas County


ing in a world that is different in many ways from the world into
which they were born. As Dr. Malcolm S. Knowles, pioneer adult
educator, points out, the compressing of the time-span of major
social and technological changes into less than a single life-
time will force an increasing number of adults, comprising two-
thirds of the American population, to participate in systematic
Adult education activities have been conducted in the past by
colleges, junior and community colleges, institutes, public school
systems, YMCA, YWCA, churches, the Red Cross, and many
other agencies. Undoubtedly this multiagency pattern will con-
tinue in the future, with many changes along the way.
Where does the public school fit into this adult education
picture? As the public school is the principal agency for educa-
tion in our culture, it would seem to be specially obligated to
pave the way in changing its assumptions-and therefore its
curriculum and methods-in accordance with changing social
needs. Then adult education will become the largest element in
the mission of the public school to society, and it will become the
largest agency of adult education. The purpose of this paper is to

Programs for Continuing Education
describe a program which is trying to meet this special obliga-
tion in a community with a large retired population.

To better understand the adult education program in Pinellas
County, one must understand the make-up of our population and
some of the manifest educational needs. These needs are deter-
mined by community surveys, expressions on the part of members
of the Community Advisory Committee, Employment Service,
direct industrial request, individual requests, Chamber of Com-
merce, and our own Adult Guidance Counselors.
Pinellas County has a population verging on 400,000. A
unique feature of this population is the number of citizens 65
years of age or over. The latest census figure places this at
100,000 plus. The other end of the spectrum includes the 70,000
students in grades 1 through 12. One of the signs of acceptance
of the total educational program is the support given to the
school construction bond issues. They have always been passed
by a strong majority. These 100,000 citizens, 65 years of age or
older, are a vital political force in our community. If they were
not interested in a continuing educational program, they could
very well stymie the educational growth of our community.
The Adult Vocational and General Education program is
structured to meet the needs of the entire county. There are seven
supervisors or coordinators working with the local director in the
development of the over-all program. These seven individuals
cover the areas of Guidance, General Adult, Home Economics,
Business, Distributive, Trade Extension, and Technical Cur-
riculum. In addition there are six administrators responsible for
the large school centers, two for full-time day training and four
in the adult evening program. Guidance counselors and the
necessary clerical help are also provided in the four large centers
and three of the smaller centers. Altogether, there are twenty-one
school centers and fifteen civic or church centers in use through-
out the county.
The fields of instruction include elementary, high school, and
remedial education; courses in Americanization and citizenship:
civic and public affairs; personal development and group rela-
tionships: family relationships; homemaking and consumer edu-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
cation; agricultural courses; distributive education: trade,
industrial, and technical courses: business education; fine arts;
techniques in practical arts and crafts; health and physical edu-
cation; and safety and driver education.
The Pinellas County Board of Public Instruction has initiated
and operated over the past year a program of guidance services
for adults. This program, consisting of seven adult guidance
centers located in evening high schools and educational centers
throughout PineIIas County, is offered both to students in the
various evening adult programs and to individuals in the com-
munity. Twelve experienced counselors and one psychometrist
work with counselees in helping them prepare for work in their
chosen field. The counselor reviews the personal, educational,
and occupational history of the counselee to aid in self-under-
standing and, with the findings of the psychometrist, provide
information for vocational planning. These counselors have no
administrative responsibility and work under the immediate
administrative and supervisory authority of the Pinellas County
Coordinator of Guidance.
One interesting project this year involved surveying the Gen-
eral Electric employees who did not possess a high school diplo-
ma and counseling with those who expressed an interest in
continuing their education. The result of this project was the
organization of three separate adult classes-two in our local
evening high schools and one located within the General Electric
plant for employees with shift difficulties.
Another service that is provided for our full-time adult
students is that of placement and follow-up. This is made pos-
sible by working for a quality program that is looked up to by the
community. If we do an adequate job of training or retraining.
businesses and industry will come to us for new employees.
We are not only providing continuous educational opportu-
nities to our older adults, but we are also making it possible for
certain of them to impart their knowledge and skill to others. Our
part-time instructional program requires the use of some 300
instructors. Certain of these instructors are selected from the
teachers in our secondary and elementary programs. More than
50 per cent of the evening staff are lay citizens with special back-
grounds and abilities who have been certified as part-time in-
structors by the State Department of Education.

Programs for Continuing Education
Publicity is important to a large program in terms of keeping
the general public apprised of the date, time, and location of
classes. In Pinellas County, our major daily newspapers-the
St. Petersburg Times, the St. Petersburg Independent, and the
Clearwater Sun-are most cooperative in publishing news of our
classes. Radio and TV stations are also helpful with spot an-
nouncements and special programs. Another means of keeping
the public informed are the various weeklies. Other methods com-
monly used are catalogues, brochures, newspapers, and schedules
that are placed in convenient racks in libraries, Chambers of
Commerce, and schools.

Organization, determining needs, selection and certification
of instructors, physical plant, guidance, and other services are
important to the program. But what of the program of educa-
tion itself? We have enumerated the fields of instruction. Now,
how do we implement them, and what are some of the end
In a society such as ours where occupations and the practices
within occupations change rapidly, one cannot be fully prepared
in youth for his total career. The "improperly prepared." the
"imperfectly employed," and the "involuntary idle" have an
opportunity through the vocational sections of our program to
improve their salable skills and thereby raise their standards of
Our older citizens are finding it more difficult to re-enter our
goods-producing industries after periods of idleness, even though
retraining is available. For this reason we find it necessary to set
certain age limits on training because age limits are placed on
employment after training.
Our service industries, such as the hospitality industry, real
estate, and government, have opened up wider areas of employ-
ment for our older citizens. For several years our distributive
education coordinator has been scheduling classes in Hotel-
Motel Management and Real Estate. The majority of those
entering and completing these classes are our older adults. Job
opportunities are excellent and placement has been most satis-
If you were to visit our Business Education classes, day or

Continuing Education in the Later Years
evening, you would again find older adults improving their skills
in typing and shorthand and upgrading themselves on more
modem office machines. Women constitute the major part of the
students in attendance, and the average age is in the mid-forties.
Our full-time Practical Nurse Training Program has opened
another door for women in their forties and fifties. Their training
program is one year in length, with one-third of the time being in
the classroom and two-thirds in the hospital. Upon satisfactory
completion of this course, the student is prepared to take the State
Board licensing examination. We are soon to embark upon a six-
weeks training program for Nursing Aides.
Adult Home Economics has made many contributions to the
health and happiness of our community. One interesting class is
on TV. The course content as approved by The Florida State
Department of Education assists our viewers with methods for
making garments at home, often less expensively. It helps with
the problems involved in remodeling garments bought ready-
made or donated by other persons. This year's Tailoring course
will include a few lessons on clothing for the handicapped.
It is strange to find that men who have retired or who have
physical handicaps have taken up sewing, or watch with their
wives. They write most interesting letters.
I have joined my wife. We take turns at the machine. I made
her two nylon nightgowns for her birthday. (Retired policeman
from Detroit.)
Glad to have this opportunity to learn to sew. I believe in
being prepared. (He didn't say for what! Retired journalist.)
As long as people will no longer pay for, or can appreciate
custom tailored clothes, I am glad my wife is having this chance
to learn to sew for herself. (Retired tailor.)
Of course, hundreds of our viewers are younger persons but it
seems to be the elderly who have the time to write "fan letters."
The younger generation is rather apt to take such instruction for
granted-and why not?
A few of our adults come to us with problems more personal
in nature. The basic skills they learn and the relationships they
establish carry over and assist them in solving these problems. I
cite one example. A woman who had just lost her husband came
here from Indiana upon her doctor's advice for a change of
scenery, etc. She was completely alone and was beginning to feel

Programs for Continuing Education
sorry for herself. Her children were grown and living in different
parts of the country. She felt she was on the verge of personal
destruction. However, after talking a few minutes and seeing
what we do and how we do it, she became very enthusiastic, en-
tered class, and was an inspiration to the other students. She
later went to work part-time as secretary and treasurer of the
Blind Center, visited sick people, and used her typing skill to
write to shut-ins. Her life now is a full one because she can help
fill the lives of others.
The broad field of General Adult Education is a very signifi-
cant part of our total program. You are all very aware of the TV
series now underway, called Operation Alphabet. Even though
our State Department of Education has given the leadership
necessary, it still remains the responsibility of the counties to
implement the program. Another program of major significance is
Civil Defense training, which received a great deal of impetus
during the Cuban crisis.
Many programs started by the General Adult section are now
being carried on by other agencies. The Legal Forum received its
start in a class called Law for the Layman. Classes in music were
later developed into local musical groups. Basic elementary and
secondary education will continue as an important facet of the
program. By working with the local traffic court, we have estab-
lished a class in Driving Safety. Art classes are offered in every
corner of the county. Language, Citizenship, Industrial Arts,
Psychology, and many other classes are available to the senior
citizens of Pinellas County.
Individual adults differ greatly. They live and earn their liv-
ing in many different ways. The educational pathways they fol-
low to their varying modes of life must be varied. With this idea
in mind, our general adult section is constantly planning pro-
grams of community need and interest.

Health Education in Pinellas County


IN THE LIGHT Of new knowledge about the
chronically ill and aged, professional workers are challenged to
explore the use of a variety of health education methods and
techniques. The particular methods or techniques employed will
differ according to the audience to be reached, the content of the
message to be delivered, and the purpose of the group or in-
dividual responsible for the educational program.
In planning health education programs during the past few
years, we have leaned heavily upon successful past experience
with the communicable diseases. Techniques used in mass chest
x-ray campaigns against tuberculosis were also applied in pro-
grams for polio immunization and venereal disease surveys.
These same techniques cannot be applied to the chronic diseases
without modification.
The reasons for this are many. First, the communicable dis-
eases presented a serious threat to every citizen, young or old.
"As long as others in the community have these conditions," so
the slogan goes, "no one is safely" In a sense it has been far easier
to motivate the patient and the public to prevent and control this
threat to themselves, their families, and their neighbors than it

Programs for Continuing Education
has been and will be to achieve the same result in regard to the
chronic diseases.
And second, the legal responsibility that agencies had for
preventing, detecting, and controlling tuberculosis, venereal dis-
ease, typhoid fever, and other communicable diseases, was clear-
cut. It was acceptable and understood not only by the public
but by professionals as well. And these disease victims were
sought out by the enforcement agencies. Today, the problem
facing us is that the patient with chronic disease must assume
major responsibility for his own health and seek out the proper
health care facility or welfare agency that can help him solve his
problems. If, as the Brittons (1962) say, the rural elderly are not
likely to avail themselves of community resources, then methods
must be found to make them more aware of and favorable toward
the use of these agencies and organizations.
The communicable diseases are well defined as to cause and
treatment and are not necessarily related to any other disease
(Derryberry, 1957). The heart patient, on the other hand, may,
and more than likely will, have other complicating illnesses such
as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and obesity, as reported by Dr.
Howard Carter (1961) at this conference two years ago.
In the case of tuberculosis and venereal disease, the largest
target population has been the low socioeconomic groups, many
of the members of which were debilitated by poor nutrition, poor
living habits, and even poorer sanitation. The target population
for the chronic diseases cannot be categorized so easily. Most
often these diseases affect not only the poor but also the rich
and the educated as well as the illiterate.
Usually the number of agencies and organizations interested
in any one communicable disease has been limited to some ex-
tent by the nature of the disease. The patient with chronic disease
may be of interest to many health and medical specialists, and a
candidate for the services of hospitals, nursing homes, visiting
nurses, voluntary health organizations, and other rehabilitative
facilities (Ryan, 1961). The total needs of the patient, however,
may not be met due to gaps in services in his community or the
standards of eligibility required by existing services.
Models, then, in community organization for reaching the
chronically ill and aged, for coordination of services to the patient
for his maximum benefit, are yet to be standardized.

Continuing Education in the Later Years

The geriatric patient is no longer, if he has ever been, a
stranger to the physician's office. The Health Study of Older
People in Pinellas County and the National Health Survey have
given ample evidence of this. The question is not, Does he have a
physician? but rather, How often does he visit his physician?
How much does he understand of what the doctor says? Is his
whole problem being treated, or only one disease? How do other
aspects of his life affect his health, such as his living arrange-
ments, whether he is married or widowed, retired from work,
satisfied with his social and recreational activities? These cannot
be dealt with by treating his physical disease alone.
How then, without guideposts from the past, can a com-
munity undertake the difficult task of looking at the total problem
of the chronically ill and aged? How can it apply research find-
ings of the medical and social sciences to provide needed services
and facilities on a community-wide basis?
Private, public, and voluntary organizations in Pinellas
County have recently faced the many issues raised by the in-
creasing importance of the chronic diseases in their population.
Fourteen community health and welfare groups shared in spon-
soring nine symposia on the problems of the chronically ill and
aged, with delegates representing over one hundred organiza-
tions. Each delegate to the meetings was chosen because he
represented a certain segment of the population and was influen-
tial in that group. This was in keeping with the theory that there
is no one power structure in a community but many substructures
which reinforce one another and determine a community's be-
havior. Each delegate was capable of bringing to the meeting
a viewpoint of a voluntary or official agency, a lay or professional
group. He was interested in obtaining research data and program
information that would be of value to his organization. He was
willing to share in analyzing the problem under consideration as
it related to other groups and to consider priorities and initiation
of programs in a cooperative spirit with others.
It is recognized that organizations meet frequently throughout
our state to solve problems in community health. How then, were
these nine symposia different?
They were unusual, for example, because of the large and

Programs for Continuing Education
varied representation of agencies. These meetings brought to-
gether delegates from civic clubs, representatives of hospitals,
welfare, medical and dental societies, voluntary and official
health agencies, employment agencies, nursing homes, the law,
and the ministry, to name only a few. Never before had the
presidents of the medical and dental societies, the director of
county welfare, the director of the adult education division of the
county school system, social workers, laymen, and health officers
sat together in discussion groups and said, "Chronic disease is a
community problem. As a representative of one group, I have
certain interests in it. There are other facets to the problem. Let's
work together to solve this problem."
The purposes of the symposia series were fulfilled in that they
provided a process by which problems could be identified, a
mechanism which served to open channels of communication
which heretofore had been unused.
The communication channels opened by these symposia are
only the beginnings of the health education opportunities waiting
to be used in Pinellas County. The content of the series sug-
gested many directions for future action. The data presented
showed the need for more knowledge about chronic disease, not
only on the part of the general public, but also the patient and
the professional who works with these problems. Some of the
more important recommendations were informational and edu-
cational programs on all levels concerning heart disease, diabetes,
arthritis and rheumatism, vision and hearing problems, case-
finding programs to find these diseases early, development of
new services, and coordination of existing services.
The importance of health information has been clearly
shown by professionals and the public as demonstrated by the
innumerable pamphlet racks in clinics and doctors' offices, by the
popularity of newspaper columns on health, by radio and tele-
vision serials, and by attendance at public lectures, such as the
medical forums in St. Petersburg.

Facts relevant to communication with the elderly were dis-
covered in the Health Study of Older People in Pinellas County.
A large representative sample. 2,544 persons over 65, were asked
about their recreational and social activities, and their member-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
ships in various types of organizations, including churches. Re-
spondents were given a list of activities that ranged from the
most active, such as swimming, golf, and gardening, to the most
passive, such as listening to the radio, watching television, and
reading. Of the total, 87.7 per cent said they watched television;
75.6 per cent said they listened to the radio; 52.6 per cent said
they played cards or other games; and 75.6 per cent said they
attended church.
When respondents were asked about membership in organi-
zations including church, it was found that 66.9 per cent be-
longed to a church; 31.9 per cent belonged to a church but no
other organization; 35 per cent had membership in a church and
one other organization. A considerable group, 19.2 per cent, said
they did not belong to any type of organization.
Additional information showed that 9.9 per cent used local
library facilities and 2.8 per cent actually attended classes, al-
though the nature of the classes was not determined.
By looking at the behavior of older adults-in this case social
and recreational activities-we can gain insights into the methods
we might use in planning health education programs.
The largest group was exposed to the mass media such as
radio, television, and newspapers. A large group attended church
and played cards in senior citizen clubs, trailer park community
halls, and in their own homes. A smaller but still sizable group
attended formal classes and took advantage of public library
The World Almanac for 1962 reported 232,900,000 radio and
television sets in use in the United States. A recent report by the
Stanford Institute for Communications Research predicts that
there will be more than 120 educational television stations on the
air by 1970. Florida, called by Stan Wittwer (1963) the nation's
pacemaker in educational television use, will have 12 stations by
What do we as professionals and potential users of these
communications for education know about the viewing habits,
interests, likes and dislikes of the retired resident? How com-
fortable are we in working with this medium? How can we
obtain the skills needed, the necessary relationship with the com-
mercial and educational stations that now exist, and use this
exciting medium to its fullest?

Programs for Continuing Education

It cannot be denied that these media have a role to play in
information-giving. But is this enough? More and more evi-
dence is being presented that one of the major deciding factors
as to whether people will become ill or get better has its roots in
the relationship people have to each other. In the book, Sociologi-
cal Studies of Health and Sickness (Apple, 1960), a source book
for the health professions, articles by Apple, Koos, Simmons,
Bales, and others point to examples of interrelationships of
people that increase or decrease the possibility of illness.
Important, therefore, are the personal relationships the mi-
grant aged develop in their new community home in Florida,
within the new social systems in which they find themselves, in
churches, retirement homes, neighborhoods, and municipalities.
These relationships will be affected by the disproportionate num-
ber of aged, our rapid population growth, the development of
fringe areas on the outskirts of cities, and the lack of a "sense
of belonging" to established systems.
For example, the elderly population of Pinellas County is
comprised largely of persons who have spent the major share of
their lives in communities in other states. Of the persons studied
in the Health Study of Older People, nearly two-thirds had lived
in the county less than ten years. Many of these lived in trailer
parks and in recently developed subdivisions.
How then does the aged migrant become part of the new
community? How does he find among the many new social sys-
tems that he encounters a role for himself which will be beneficial
to his own physical and emotional health and contribute to the
solving of community health and welfare problems?
Dorothy and Curtis Mial (1962), writing in the National
Civic Review say, "Information and good intentions do not lead
automatically to the solution of community problems. People
somehow get in the way of rational progress from data gathering
to planning to action-people who don't really hear one another,
who are unaware of the consequences of their own behavior, who
are insensitive to the needs of others and to the conflicting pres-
sures they may be under when they sit down in a community
action group, who are unskilled in group action, membership, and

Continuing Education in the Later Years
Who then are the community health and welfare leaders who
are going to work with the burgeoning influx of aged to Florida
to help them satisfy their own health goals, to work with others
in planning for better communities? We have personnel who are
trained in the leadership skills necessary to help on the needs of
income maintenance, recreation, vocational rehabilitation, edu-
cation, housing, and health as described by Derryberry (1957).
Will these workers, as he suggests, cut across the barriers of
special interests and become "a type of professional community
worker who will do for human betterment everywhere what the
county agent or extension worker started to do for the betterment
of farmers in selected demonstration areas"?
Recently I talked with a minister in our county. He said he
felt there were things his church might be doing for the aged that
they are not now doing. He wondered, however, if the retirement
villages surrounding his church might already be doing these
things. Very likely the retirement villages assume the churches
in the area are doing more than they are. The recreation depart-
ment would like to have their youth centers used more by adults
and older people. These separate groups are not even aware the
others are concerned. Whose responsibility is it to bring these
groups together? Would it not be possible to identify the elderly
opinion leaders in each of several churches, retirement villages,
and neighborhoods, let them identify the interests of their groups,
and provide institutes, seminars, workshops, and other programs
to fit their needs? We will never get all our aged to formal classes
-but we can work through opinion leaders to receive from and
give to a larger audience.
But the question remains, Who will do this job of community
organization? And, what agency or organization will give its
personnel freedom to do this kind of job? And even if personnel
are found, are they capable, that is adequately trained, as group
Where will Florida find the personnel with human relations
training described by the Mials (1962) "as it relates to com-
munity leadership: self awareness, sensitivity to others and to
group processes, skill in achieving teamwork, diagnostic ability to
analyze problem situations and knowledge of the community and
of forces affecting or preventing change"?
We have long known more about the natural sciences than

Programs for Continuing Education
we have put into practice. In our rush to become the space state
of the nuclear era, are we to lag further behind in the application
of social sciences than we are presently? If people do not know
how to live within the space era, scientific progress is for nought.
These then are the challenges to the professional health and
welfare worker in Florida on the county and the state level as he
plans health education programs: to seek new ways of working
with the aged, based on the knowledge of the chronic diseases as
contrasted to the communicable diseases of yesterday; to utilize
current knowledge about the recreational and social activities
and organizational memberships of the aged in our state: to pro-
vide opportunities for face-to-face discussion of mutual problems
which will open communication channels as they have never
been opened before: and to find ways to develop skills in human
relations as they relate to community leadership in order that
sound progress can be made.

Apple, Dorrian (Ed.). Sociological Studies of Health and Sickness. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1960.
Britton, Joseph H. and Jean O. Expectations for older persons in a rural community.
Geriatrics, 1962, 17, 602-8.
Carter, Howard W. Measuring the health status and health needs of an older
population. In Carter C. Osterbind, (Ed.). Aging: A Regional Appraisal. Gaines-
ville: University of Florida Press, 1961, pp. 94-109.
Derryberry, Mayhew. Health education in transition. American Journal of Public
Health, 1957, 11, 1357-66.
Mial. Curtis H. and Dorothy. Leadership Training. National Civic Review, May,
1962, pp. 257-62.
Ryan, Philip. Role of voluntary health agencies in planning to meet the health needs
of older persons. American Journal of Public Health, 1961, 51, pp. 878-82.
Wittwer, Stan. St. Petersburg Independent, February 8, 1963.
World Almanac for 1962. New York: New York World-Telegram, 1963.

Libraries Are for Reading and More


I AM PLEASED to have the opportunity to
present the topic, "Libraries Are for Reading and More," and es-
pecially so when the subject is centered on the educational needs
of the older person. The way this topic has been expressed gives
me a chance to lay emphasis on the "and more" aspects of library
service, while keeping in focus the basic purpose of library service
-the promotion of reading.
When I speak of libraries and their educational services to
the older person, I hope that you will keep in mind not only the
local public library, but also the libraries in the area which
supplement this library, and that you will be aware of the ways
in which it can draw on the services of such libraries as the state
library on up to the Library of Congress, and Library Services
Branch of the United States Office of Education, and the many
specialized governmental libraries.
I shall also be referring to the services which may be provided
by libraries in hospitals and correctional and custodial institu-
tions, in colleges and universities, and in business and industry.
I shall be speaking not only about reading as a pleasant and
profitable use of the older person's leisure time, but about the use
of books and related materials-of films, filmstrips, recordings,
pamphlets, periodicals, reports-in developing general knowledge
of the field of aging.

Programs for Continuing Education
I want particularly to give some attention to the "and more"
which is represented by library services to individuals, agencies,
and organizations who themselves are working with the older
adult. And finally, I intend to outline the library's activities in
educating the community at large concerning both the aging
process and its responsibilities to its older citizens.
Primarily, the librarian is concerned with service to the in-
dividual reader-with sensing and serving his varied needs on
an individualized, face-to-face basis. It is this direct reader-
librarian relationship which provides the opportunity to call to
the individual's attention-either in conversation, in book talks,
or through the provision of booklists and displays-the books
which may meet his particular need at the time he is becoming
aware of it. His need may be met by something as specific as a
book on financial planning for retirement or as general as a novel
which provides insights into the conflicts between the generations.
It may well be as broad and as vital as the need for a bridge to a
world with which he has lost contact. It could be for a study of
the pros and cons of medicare or a handbook on bird-watching
or the address of the American Association of Retired Persons-
the possibilities are as varied as human nature itself and are
limited only by human capacity and human imagination.
A major aspect of education for aging is that of preventing
some of the damaging effects of aging-of education for aging-
and here libraries have a role in helping adults from youth on to
build into their lives the knowledge, understanding, skills, and
interests which will make their later years productive and satis-
fying. The whole educational program of the library is almost au-
tomatically geared to this. One area in which the library can be
of particular help-that of education for maintaining good habits
of mental and physical health-is not as fully recognized either
by individuals or libraries as it should be. Slagle (1938) de-
scribes a program of the Cincinnati Public Library-the Health
Alcove in the Science and Industry Department-which is worth
careful study and consideration.
Closely related to health education is the steady development
of bibliotherapy as a technique in the care of the ill, particularly
the mentally ill, and its uses in many aspects of rehabilitation.

Continuing Education in the Later Years
Tews (1962) reports on a recent survey of a wide range of prac-
titioners which revealed a correspondingly wide range of con-
cepts of the definition and scope of the term bibliotherapy, but
she also found a high degree of interest in the more specific iden-
tification of the nature and potential of bibliotherapy as an
adjunctive activity. The value of present techniques in the treat-
ment and care of bedfast geriatric patients is described by Moody
(1962), who shows how the "element of therapy adds an extra
dimension to the librarian-patron relationship," and how the
librarian, being "removed from the clinical aspects of the pa-
tient's life," has a special opportunity and advantage in working
with the patient.
The librarian is concerned that library materials and informa-
tion services are available and accessible to the older person. For
those who are able to come to the library, care is being taken that
physical barriers are removed or minimized. Verna Nistendirk,
Director of Library Extension here in Florida, reports that li-
brary buildings being constructed in Florida include ramps (as
at the Miami Public Library) or very few steps, and that the
State Library staff is consulting with architects using specifica-
tions for making buildings accessible to the physically handi-
capped.* The Montclair, New Jersey, Public Library is an
outstanding example of how ease of access may be provided to
users in wheel chairs, with grade entrances and wide aisles.
Librarians are increasingly conscious of the needs of the older
person with limited vision, and are taking steps to meet these
needs not only by finding and listing books in large type, and
providing such aids as projection magnifiers (Nieman, 1961) but
also by urging publishers to keep this increasing audience in
mind when designing books for the general adult reader. The
scarcity of books suitable for the adult of limited reading ability
or limited attention span is another matter of great concern to
librarians serving older adults, although it is evident that the
educational level of the older adult is steadily rising along with
that of the general population.
For those readers who are institutionalized or homebound,
many libraries have well-established extension services, handled
*Available in a lit called Architectural Barriers, distributed by the National
Society for Crippled Children and Adults. 2023 W. Ogden Ave., Chicago 12. III.
at $1.00.

Programs for Continuing Education
through book deliveries, bookmobile service, and even by mail
(Moody, 1962, Haan, 1960, Corney, 1960). Shut-in service at its
best involves not only the delivery of books but careful attention
to the needs of the individual reader, and is time-consuming
and expensive to provide. It frequently must depend on both the
active cooperation of the institution being served and the efforts
of volunteers. Moody (1962) points out some ways in which
community resources and the active older person himself may be
called upon to perform these services. The provision by the local
library of small, frequently changed loan collections in retire-
ment homes and villages and in old-age housing projects where
a knowledgeable resident, often a retired librarian (as for exam-
ple in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers) (Alpert, 1963), can super-
vise the collection and stimulate its use, is developing and should
prove a feasible and valuable service.
It is when we come to consider the services which can be pro-
vided to older people in groups, that we encounter the "and
more" which is probably the best known of the many library
activities which are related to the field of aging. Such programs
as that of the Cleveland Public Library's "Live Long and Like
It" club, and the Boston Public Library's "Never Too Late"
group (Long, 1955, Vainstein, 1958 and 1960, and Cotton, 1960,
to cite only a few) have become synonymous with library serv-
ice to older people in the minds of many-and that includes many
librarians. There is no question of the value of these programs
for the communities in which they have taken place; in addition,
the wide publicity they have received has been useful in focusing
attention on the uses of library services to groups, but there has
been a tendency to regard such programs as the only answer to
the older person's need for group activity, stimulation, and ex-
posure to the library setting.
What do such programs customarily provide? Frequently
they consist of a series of meetings on related subjects, using
speakers, panels, book talks, films, recordings, and discussion.
Ideally, they are planned by library personnel with the advice
and active participation of members of the group for whom
they are designed, and draw on resources both of the library and
of the community at large. When carried on over a period of

Continuing Education in the Later Years
years, the skills and resources of the members of these groups are
increasingly brought into play, and the added values of self-
determined programs are realized (Gullette. 1962). Mrs. Gul-
lette's account of the development of a senior citizens' club
through the encouragement of the Gary, Indiana, Public Library
also illustrates well the way in which the resources of the library,
other than books, can be brought into play in assisting the or-
ganization of such groups.
The only difference between these programs and others which
the library provides for community groups is that they are
planned and designated for a specific age group.,and to all intents
and purposes are limited to that group. The question is frequently
raised as to whether this is wise or necessary. The answer, I am
sure, is one for each community to decide on the basis of its own
situation, keeping in mind both the value to the older person of
opportunities for contacts with those of their own age, and the
need also for contacts with heterogeneous groups. Verna Nis-
tendirk said in correspondence already referred to, "Most of
Florida has so many older people that they take part in every
activity of the library.... Most libraries of any size in our state
have some activities that will interest people who have time for
such discussion groups as Great Books, Goals for Americans....
current events forums, travel films, book reviews or book talks."
On the other hand, Mrs. Helga Eason, Head of the Com-
munity Relations Department of the Miami Public Library
(Eason, 1963), writes that they have had only a few programs
for older people, and then only when requested by the com-
munity and for which there appeared to be a genuine need, such
as an institute on unemployment for the 40-pIus worker, a series
of panel discussions on improving the personality after 45, and a
church leaders' workshop on aging (Eason, 1960). She adds.
"We tried a discussion group for older people and they didn't
want to be isolated even if it were a forum for the airing of their
problems." The assistant state librarian in New Hampshire (Al-
len, 1960) and others have pointed out the value to the older
person and to the group of which he becomes a part, when the
"lifetime of fruitful experience" can be brought to such discussion
groups as World Politics or Great Decisions. My own interviews
with older people who were participants in the American Heri-
tage discussion program (Phinney, 1956, pp. 104-5) brought such

Programs for Continuing Education
comments as, "We get into a rut seeing just our children and
grandchildren, and we need to meet other people and get their
point of view" and "Older people get to the point where they
cling to their prejudices if they don't have a chance to hear new
There are many other ways in which libraries can provide the
"and more" besides presenting programs for groups coming to
the library. In fact, it is in assisting other groups-other agencies
and organizations-to carry out their educational programs that
libraries frequently play their strongest role (Phinney, 1959). In
serving the organization to which an older person belongs-a
church, a labor union, a senior center, a voluntary organization,
the public school adult program-the library places its resources
of personnel, materials, and physical facilities at the disposal of
all the older adults in the community, whether or not they are
using the library directly as individuals.
This is done in a variety of ways. The provision by the li-
brary of materials which will aid the social worker, the teacher,
the government official, the club program planning committee, in
keeping up to date and in carrying out their work is basic. So is
the preparation of bibliographies and the planning of book dis-
plays. Parenthetically, I cannot refrain from remarking how often
it is evident that the practitioner in most fields is woefully un-
aware of the literature in his field, and even more unaware that
librarians can furnish a key to that literature, even when far from
expert in the field in question. I venture to say that, as a result of
the White House Conference on Aging, there is not a state
library or a state university library in the nation today which
could not assist a local or special library in identifying and locat-
ing special reports, surveys, and specialized texts in fields relat-
ing to gerontology (Rogers, 1961). This is the librarian's historic
and established bailiwick-identifying, collecting, and organiz-
ing for use, all materials which relate to a special subject area.
But I must remind you again that today we also have the "and
more," providing personnel for assistance in program planning,
or personnel skilled in book talks and in leading book and film
discussions (see especially Goshkin, 1962, Backer, 1961, Eason,
1960). Librarians are taking books, booklists, and displays to

Continuing Education in the Later Years
meetings of other groups, and most of all, they are willing and
able to take part in planning community-wide activities to meet
the problems of aging, for instance, through their membership
in the local community council. A further function recognized by
a number of libraries which, because of limited staff, are not in a
position to participate in a wide variety of community activities,
is that of clearing-house: maintaining a community calendar,
keeping up-to-date records of community resources, programs,
and facilities for the older adult. The librarian has many oppor-
tunities to make quiet referrals, and the mutual obligation of
community agencies to keep the library informed, and of the
library to seek out this information, seems inescapable. Even
where this clearing-house function becomes the logical respon-
sibility of another agency such as the community council, close
and constant communication between the council and the li-
brary is essential and valuable. Leadership and clearing-house
functions are also carried on at the state level by such state
library agencies as the North Carolina State Library and the
Wisconsin Free Library Commission.
More and more the library is becoming recognized as an in-
formation and communication center. When this function is
added to the library's already well-recognized service as an inte-
gral part of the educative community, the library's responsibility
for informing the community at large becomes clear. A public
library is, for example, in a good position to call attention to ma-
terials which are helpful in resolving problems of family relation-
ships, not only through providing books, book lists, films, and
opportunities for discussion on various aspects of the subject, but
also in supplementing with these materials the educational pro-
grams of youth organizations, family service agencies, and
churches. Through the publication of book lists in local papers
and the provision of TV spots, the library can focus attention
on topics of concern to the general public and follow up with
displays and open meetings in the library or in cooperation with
other educational agencies in the community. They can make
use of such gathering places as the supermarket and the book-
mobile stop.
As in other areas of gerontology, the librarian's philosophy

Programs for Continuing Education
regarding service to older people and to the communities in
which they live is changing and developing. The following quo-
tations from a talk given by the writer at a meeting of the Adult
Services Division of the Maryland Library Association expresses
the philosophy which has governed much of the recent activities:
The Library's responsibility in the whole field of aging is to
serve the community in such a way that successful aging can take
place This implies a wide range of library services-services
directed not only to the present aged and aging, but to those
approaching later years, to the citizens and the community at
large, to the family which may include an older person, to the
professional and volunteer in an organization working with older
people. Most important to a philosophy of library service to
an aging population is the consideration given to the preventive
approach-to helping adults build in their lives the knowledge,
understanding, skills, and interests which will make their later
years productive and satisfying. The whole educational program
of the library is geared to this and it needs only the added focus
of expressing this as a definite objective of the library's program.
. Service to older people who come to the library in groups
should be planned on the basis of the situation in the individual
community. Such planning should be based on a knowledge of
what activities are already available in the community, on the
library's own resources, and on full involvement of the eventual
participants. ... Basically, then, the services a library should pro-
vide in order that successful aging may take place in a community
are essentially the services that make up any good educational
program, focused upon, and giving a certain priority to the field
of aging.
There is a phrase here which needs emphasis and some
comment-"'the services which a library should provide." The
libraries of the nation, and I am referring now particularly to our
public libraries, vary tremendously in their resources, both in
materials and in personnel. At best, they are hard-pressed to meet
current demands for books and services, and many are not even
capable of minimum service. Librarians, too, vary widely in the
extent of their perception of the educational needs of the older
citizen and the library's responsibility for meeting them. Such
critiques as that of Barnett (1961) are evidence of some confusion
among librarians as to what libraries can and should be doing for
the older adult. There is also a well-founded hesitancy to cate-

Continuing Education in the Later Years
gorize a large and various group of people solely on the basis of
age. I believe that this dilemma will be solved when libraries
and other educational agencies approach the education of older
adults on the basis of individual need and capacity, recognizing
at the same time that certain needs and certain limitations of
capacity may cluster around the later years, and may therefore
be present in greater proportions wherever older people are
A review such as this of educational services provided by
libraries cannot so much consist of a catalog of widely accepted
practices as a sampling of the kinds of activities which have been
found feasible and desirable in certain community situations.
Library development has taken great strides in the past ten years
-years in which equally great strides in the field of gerontology
are also evident.
The general climate of support for libraries on the national
level, the development of services through state library extension
agencies, the establishment of library systems and cooperative
arrangements, and the publication and implementation of stand-
ards of service in every type of library during these past ten
years are chief among these. I would not be fulfilling my respon-
sibilities as a member of the American Library Association staff,
nor would I be true to my convictions, if I did not mention the
support which the ALA has given in working with other agencies
and organizations in the field of aging on the national level, and
the work that its members and staff have done to stimulate inter-
est in and the development of techniques and materials for library
service to older people.
It is inevitable that as library potential for serving the educa-
tional needs of the older adult increases, recognition of this poten-
tial by the library and by the community at large will result in
ever more effective utilization of this vital community resource.

Allen, E. W. Library service to the aging. North Country Lib., 1960. 3 (2). 10-13.
Alpert H. Correspondence with the editor of the ALA Bulletin, Jan. 18, 1963.
Backer, M. A. Bingo: a report on an experiment, October 1959-August 1960.
Wilson Lib. Bul., 1961, 35, 540-42.

Programs for Continuing Education
Barnett, A. N. Beyond librarianship: a critique of special library service to the
aging. Lib. Q., 1961, 31, 178-86.
Corney, Mrs. R. Library service to shut-ins in Poughkeepsie. Blmark (N.Y.S.L.)
1960, 19, 153-55.
Cotton, B. Our library helps the oldsters. North Country Lib., 1960, 3 (4), 1-3.
Eason, H. H. Correspondence with the writer, January 22, 1963.
Eason, H. H. Workshop on aging. ALA Bul., 1960, 54, 475-77.
Goshkin, 1. Senior citizen looks at his world. Lib. Service to Labor NL, 1962, 14
(4) 1-3. (Available as mimeographed reprint from ALA Adult Services Division,
50 E. Huron St., Chicago 11, Ill., free on request.)
Gullette. I. From six to eighty-six-attendance at senior citizens' club reflects prog-
ress. Focus, 1962, 16, 34-36.
Haan, G. Service to senior citizens. Lib. J., 1960, 85, 4434-35.
Long. F. Cracking the age barrier. ALA But., 1955, 49, 129-31.
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Nieman, D. E. (Comp.) Reading Aids for the Handicapped, rev. 1961. (Availabl.
as mimeographed reprint from ALA, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago 11, III., free on
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ship, 1960, 9, 10-11, 28-30.

The University Comes to the Community


faith in education: and over the generations there has evolved
a pattern of institutions affording the educational opportunities
which the people have demanded.
American children have attended elementary schools in their
own neighborhood or villages; American youth have enrolled
in secondary schools in their own communities; but those who
have continued in school beyond high school graduation have
"gone away" to attend the university. By and large, elementary
and secondary education have been considered community con-
cerns; but, until recently at least, higher education has usually
involved institutions outside the home community.
Now, however, we are in an era in which the university is
being called into community after community to render services
which are not available from local educational institutions. Uni-
versities are manifesting themselves in communities all over this
land through programs and services at the university level.
Following World War I-during the twenties and thirties-
the approaching universality of secondary education was heralded
by the growing concern for youth who dropped out of school
prior to graduation: and following World War II, significant

Programs for Continuing Education
steps toward universal participation in education beyond the
high school were taken in the development of community junior
colleges which offer a range of educational services. Concurrently
there developed programs in adult education which have
signaled the growing acceptance of the fact that learning knows
no age limits.
Even so, the university has tended to hold itself aloof from
the community-from the very communities from which it must
derive its support both in funds and in understanding. The uni-
versity has been a center of scholarly activity, of teaching and
learning and research; and the university has claimed for itself
an "air of intellectual excitement," unparalleled elsewhere in
society, and which is held to be essential to teaching and learning
at the highest levels.
"Come unto me all ye who are able and I will give you knowl-
edge." the university has said unto the people-and grateful
people have gone to the university and they have been richly
But, if there was a time when the university had a monopoly
on intellectual excitement, that time is not now. As America has
matured its social and political institutions, as America has be-
come urbanized, as America has become industrialized, the uni-
versity atmosphere which is conducive to learning has come to
be matched in many other places: and the acceptance of the fact
that education and the processes of living are closely intertwined
has spawned an awareness of the fact that education-even at the
highest intellectual levels-can and does take place in locations
other than the university campus.
Even as this transformation is taking place, circumstances
have required the university to accept the challenge to move out
into the community. The much recognized "explosion of knowl-
edge"-coupled with the acute shortage of manpower with ad-
vanced university-level education-necessitates that the men and
women employed in professional and technological activities find
a way to continue their education without interrupting their
employment for prolonged periods of residence on a university
The development of new knowledge and the successful ap-
plication of that new knowledge to the affairs of men have re-
quired that community after community seek services from the