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The ‘third age’ perspective: enrichment and informal modes of learning in an outdoor sketching group for older adults

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The proposed benefits of participatory arts for older adults continue to attract empirical attention, but how informal group participation aids personal enrichment is not yet fully understood. This qualitative case study of a University of the Third Age ‘outdoor sketching group’ explores the meanings its members attach to art-making in retirement and how this informal context supports their preferred modes of learning. Hermeneutic interviews with six members elicited their personal framings of what it means to pursue sketching. Participant observations of group activities and learning interactions therein afforded insights into how this group meets the needs of its members. The emergent theme from interviews, ‘cultivating dispositions’, represents what they consider to be a central endeavour in retirement. It reflects the judicious selecting and shedding of activities depending on whether they are deemed conducive to personal enrichment. Members hone and nurture dispositions they perceive as befitting the way they wish to pursue art-making. The group’s egalitarian ethos, whereby expertise is distributed among the group rather than attached to an instructor, is valued. Within peer dialogue, ways of enmeshing oneself with certain artistic orientations are exchanged. These serve as one of various communal resources members utilise to cultivate their own desired dispositions.
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Keywords: Retirement; informal learning; interpretive; tacit

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Education Studies, University of Hull, Hull, UK

Publication date: July 4, 2017

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