April 20, 2009 Leave a comment
Interesting news that Mexico, where by 2010 10% of the population will be over 60, has just opened a University for the Elderly. The move is in recognition of the fact that, according to the accompanying news release, “the elderly in Mexico remain largely marginalized”.
Whilst this appears a great move and definite marker for the fact that the over 60s have the capacity and interest to learn, one hopes that the underlying tenet isn’t one of creating a playground for the old – albeit on a higher intellectual plain than most of the “beneficial” activities created for the good of the elderly.
Fortunately the curriculum appears reassuringly solid: maths, French, economics, finance and accounting, history, philosophy, law, music appreciation and IT skills. Alongside this will be special courses on topics such as emotional intelligence, the psychology of the elderly, violence and depression, self-esteem and free time management.
Certainly a case of watch that space. If the Mexican University delivers all that it might it could represent a valuable role model for other countries to follow. In the UK we have the University of the Third Age about which little is heard, and toward which one suspects, little status and respect is granted. It could do more. If nothing else we need such institutions to drive the prominent message that older people can learn, still have value and can look forward to an interesting and stimulating period of later life.