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Agelessness and its relationship to lifelong learning


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Throssell, PA 2005 , 'Agelessness and its relationship to lifelong learning', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This study investigates the concept of agelessness and considers whether there is a relationship between agelessness and lifelong learning. For the purposes of this investigation a person who is perceived to have agelessness qualities is defined, "A person who conducts their life in ways that are not chronologically age stereotypical in relation to the culture they live in."
The concept of agelessness is explored in terms of personality characteristics. The study also considers the links between agelessness and lifelong learning with a view to establishing possible connections between agelessness, lifelong learning, and social wellbeing. The presuming contention is that agelessness in a person enables him/her to choose to respond to learning opportunities throughout his/her life. An assumption is made that learning is how we adapt to change.
Cultural perceptions about age, which are often based on ageist stereotypes, can perpetuate attitudes, behaviours and values following the myths and misconceptions engendered. Limitations on the way our lives are conducted can also have important implications for the role of learning during the whole of our life.
The study utilises a three-phase methodology with an emphasis on the development and analysis of participant narratives. In Phase One, a descriptive survey method was followed, while in Phase Two, focus groups discussed key study variables. In Phase Three, in order to consider the results of Phases One and Two, biographical case study life histories were constructed, and analysed using narrative analysis techniques.
As well as investigating the concept of agelessness, the study ascertained influences, such as epiphanies or turning points (Denzin 2001), that may have contributed to an agelessness mind-set. Insights into these processes, and their linkage to lifelong learning, may assist in encouraging and facilitating individuals of any chronological age in adapting to change and choosing to improve their wellbeing by understanding and restricting negative age-related influences.
Findings from the study suggested that agelessness can be understood in terms of demonstrated personality characteristics. However, discussion of the lives of case study subjects revealed a deeper picture, with dominant themes emerging from the display of lived personality characteristics across a variety of situated contexts. These themes demonstrated the importance of a person's approach to change in responding to a range of life experiences. While the exploration of the key variables demonstrated some linkage between characteristics of agelessness and lifelong learning, and their relationship to social wellbeing, a more complex understanding of issues related to ageing and the concept of agelessness was developed. For example, learning in response to adversity seems to be a major influence on the extent to which the case study subjects exhibited characteristics of agelessness

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Throssell, PA
Keywords: Adult education, Continuing education
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Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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