More than tea and scones: including women as third age learners in rural communities

Marchant, Jillian, and Lear, Glenna (2013) More than tea and scones: including women as third age learners in rural communities. In: Australian Association for Research in Education. From: AARE 2013: Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 1-5 December 2013, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

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Research investigating adult education in rural settings indicates that women are more likely than men to engage with adult education for its particular learning outcomes, such as formal qualifications, as well as self-development and self-realisation. The personal transformation associated with education may be termed third age learning when the individual develops a new midlife identity and personal fulfilment. Previous education research suggests that third age learners have the potential to offer significant social benefits to their communities. However, research on the outcomes of third age women's initiative to further their education is minimal at best. Thus, this paper introduces some of the issues facing women as third age learners with a particular focus on those living in rural/regional communities. The study utilises the principles of autoethnography to construct a composite narrative of the lived experiences of the two authors as third age learners in their rural communities. Ongoing informal email conversations between them identify striking similarities in their social experiences whilst living in different regions of South Australia. Their portrayal illuminates the lived experience of being qualified rural third age women and the issues they face in regional Australia.

This study highlights a gap between policies emphasising lifelong education across the life span and opportunities for the placement of qualified individuals on completion of their educational aspirations. Their limited inclusion as third age learners negates the self-realisation of their potential and the social and economic benefits of their education to the wider community. Identifying the structures that constrain both personal and social development facilitates an exploration for better inclusion of third age women who have a desire to make a difference in rural communities. It is critical for their ongoing prosperity that rural and regional communities retain and encourage the innovative knowledge and skills of qualified individuals. Thus, this paper argues that developing adequate structures to include qualified women in rural communities will give them a choice of roles that encourage them to remain in their communities. It concludes with suggestions that may enhance the inclusion of women as third age learners and direct further research in this area.

Item ID: 31984
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
ISSN: 1324-9320
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Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2014 00:29
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160510 Public Policy @ 20%
13 EDUCATION > 1301 Education Systems > 130101 Continuing and Community Education @ 40%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement @ 30%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9405 Work and Institutional Development > 940501 Employment Patterns and Change @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940116 Social Class and Inequalities @ 30%
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