This paper explores the narratives of older women engaged in learning at an Age UK Community Centre, in England in 2014. The participants of this small pilot study were primarily learning ICT (Information and Communications Technology) skills. This study contextualises lifelong learning by acknowledging that learning is a need of older adults in the context of the personalisation agenda, the Care Act 2014, and human rights. We analyse the data by drawing on two broad understandings of the different motives for learning: instrumental and expressive (Londoner, 1978). This provides a useful framework to explore the social and cultural influences behind motivations to learn. The study suggests that the two categories of learning motives overlap, yet the rationales given by older adults depicted how learning was not conceived solely as the acquisition of formal knowledge; instead, it was essentially driven by a socially enacted process. We conclude by emphasising how learning is an indispensable aspect of social care. We suggest that a re-conceptualisation of ‘care’ and ‘need’ may be required during assessment practices when working with older adults’, as motives for learning here were grounded in social participation and the search for a sense of meaning and purpose towards their identity in older age.
- Older adults
- Lifelong learning