The Faculty Of Gerontology As An Innovative Form Of Gerontology Education
The relevance of the studied problem is caused by the necessity of educational space expanding due to the opening of innovative gerontological units. The purpose of the article is to develop a multifunctional model of the faculty of gerontology on the basis of a higher educational institution. Such faculties of gerontology within a single educational space will comprehensively deal not only with the training of older people, providing them with the necessary competencies for development and self-development, but also with retraining of people of pre-retirement age within the framework of Pension reform, which requires the creation of special retraining programs to support the labour activity of older people. All this contributes to the improvement of intergenerational interaction within a single educational space aimed at the joint, continuous personal and professional development of students of all ages. The proposed structure of the security Model of gerontology educational environment, which consists of interrelated spatial-technical, psycho-communicative, content-methodical and organizational components, will partially solve the problem of adaptation of the Russian educational system to modern demographic changes, create a positive safe educational environment for the elderly people, and, therefore, ultimately improve the older people’s quality of life. The obtained theoretical and empirical material can be used as a basis for the development of an improvement program of the process of regional gerontology, as a design of different variants of gerontological units and the introduction of innovative learning technologies.
Keywords: Gerontological educationInstitute of the third agehigher educational institutionmodel of faculty of gerontologysecurity model of the educational environmentcontinuous education
Due to increased life expectancy and proportion of the elderly in the general structure of the population, it is necessary to solve the problem of improving the older people’s quality of life by stimulating their active and professional longevity within the educational space. In Russia, the educational coverage rate among the elderly is 1%, which not only hinders the social adaptation of older people, significantly reducing their quality of life, but also runs counter to the observance of the most important human right to lifelong education.
The concept of continuous education implemented today in Russia allows an elderly person to obtain the necessary level of competence in a particular field at this stage of life.
The most important role in the development of gerontology in Russia played Kononygina (2004), who developed the "Concept of gerontology in the Russian Federation." She developed promising management models of gerontological education and formulated recommendations for the development of gerontological education in Russia based on analysis of foreign and domestic experience in the development of gerontological education. In her opinion, gerontological education should function as a multi-level personality-centered subject-social-state model, which includes a structural model and process-technological models.
In the last ten years, Russian scientists developed new models of gerontological education. Arkhipova (2011) showed that the modern model of gerontological education should be based on two approaches to further development at a late age: developing with the potential for further development and compensatory-adaptive with the potential for adaptation. Nagornova (2015), developing the ideas of the structure of pedagogical systems, proposed a model of adaptive pedagogical systems of different directions for elderly people, which corresponded to the levels of personal safety at different stages of aging. Stepanova (2017) developed a model of additional education for people of retirement age as a factor of their social and personal self-determination.
For more than ten years, institutes and universities of the third age have been successfully operating in all Russian regions. They exist on the bases of various institutions: secondary educational institutions, gerontology educational centers, advisory institutions, sports-, health-, rehabilitation centers, religious communities, political parties, public organizations, etc.
A new direction of gerontological education is the introduction of institutional training to provide additional educational services to the older generation. It is necessary to expand the educational space by opening gerontological units within higher educational institutions, taking into account regional and national characteristics.
A great advantage of the creation of faculties of gerontology within higher educational institutions is:
First, the availability of personnel, scientific-methodical and material-technical bases within higher educational institutions allows to make the educational process at the faculties of gerontology the most productive and complete;
Second, conditions are created for joint activities of different generations, students and retro students (elderly students). All this contributes to the improvement of intergenerational interaction within a single educational space aimed at the joint, continuous personal and professional development of students of all ages (Sidorchuk, 2016a).
The gerontological education today includes the reform of all parts of the educational system: the educational process for the elderly, the training of gerontological personnel, psychological, pedagogical and legal support of the educational process and, of course, the creation of a comfortable and safe social environment, which takes into account the age characteristics of older people (Smantser, 2016). The creation of such a multifunctional gerontological unit as the faculty of gerontology requires the development of a Model of a safe educational environment.
The analysis of literature shows that gerontological education is currently an insufficiently studied social phenomenon. This fact makes it difficult to predict the prospects of its development, does not allow to use in sufficient measure the potential of gerontological education in solving urgent social problems.
Models of education in old age were developed by R. Beck, F. Dittman-Kohli, S. Cade, W. Kruse, Olbricht (1996), X. Titgens, P. Zeman, M. Schulz, O. Evert, S. Arenas, E. Parraga., M. PerezSalanova, S. Pinazo and others.
A number of publications of such scientists as O. V. Agapova, T. M. Kononygina, M. E. Elyutina, E. E. Chekanova, A. A. Gordienko, G. A. Klyuchareva, T. Z., Kozlova, E. V. Lapshina, I. G. Mickeviciene, E. A. Sokolovskaya, G. S. Sukhobskaya and others is devoted to practical organization of older people training, the peculiarities and specificity of methods and forms of educational work with the elderly. L.Ya.Gridzenko, M.L. Belonozhko N. S. Morova, O. A. Makarova, G. V. Mukhametzyanova and others studied the organization specificity of the universities of the third age.
Safety of educational environment was considered in the works by I. A. Baeva, V. I. Panov, V. A. Yasvin, John Gibson, V. I. Slobodchikov, V. V. Rubtsov, S. D. Deryabo, S. V. Alekseev and others.
The most well-known structure of the educational environment and its components, considered in the works by Kovalev and Yasvin (as cited in Yasvin, 2000), consists of spatial-semantic, content-methodical communicative-organizational components. Alekseev (2013) suggests two security models of educational institutions: a model of necessary security and a model of sufficient security. The choice of this or that security model of the institution is carried out by the management of the educational institution, based on the analysis of all components of the educational environment.
The analysis of scientific literature and comparative experience of regional institutions of the third age has made it possible to develop a Model of the faculty of gerontology and a Model of a safe educational environment. Besides, this can serve as a basis for the development of gerontology educational strategies, the content design of educational programs to meet the interests and educational needs of older people.
Thus, the emergence of new gerontology educational projects, technologies, units within the framework of a single concept of gerontological education will strengthen the Russian gerontology education aimed at the development of modern competencies of senior citizens.
At the moment, the modern Russian gerontological formation is devoid of comprehensiveness, consistency, a single management center, and also has almost no single scientific basis. Therefore, the creation on the basis of higher educational institutions of multifunctional gerontological faculties will allow to partially accomplish this task.
Such gerontological units within the framework of a single educational space will be able to comprehensively engage not only in training older people and retraining people of pre-retirement age for subsequent employment, but also prepare gerontological personnel for work in the fields of education, social services, health care, and also conduct research and international activities.
To achieve this goal, the following tasks were set:
to analyze the domestic experience of the third age institutions on the basis of higher educational institutions;
develop models of the gerontological faculty and a safe educational environment;
identify the structural components of the integrated safe educational environment of the gerontological unit;
consider the prospects of Russian gerontological formation.
Purpose of the Study
Based on a comparative analysis of the work experience of third-age institutions based on universities in the framework of a unified concept of geron-education, develop a model for a multifunctional gerontological faculty and also identify the structural components of an integrated safe educational environment of the gerontological unit.
The following methods were used: theoretical (analysis; modeling); diagnostic (questionnaire; testing); empirical (study of comparative experience of gerontology educational organizations); method of graphic modeling.
The study was conducted at the Institute of the third age of Smolensk state University.
The study of the problem was carried out in 3 stages:
At the first stage, the theoretical analysis of the experience of the third age institutions in Russian regions and the analysis of psychological and pedagogical scientific literature on the stated problem were carried out, the purpose and objectives were identified;
At the second stage, a graphical model of the faculty of gerontology on the basis of a higher educational institution was developed and a functional description of the structural units was given;
at the third stage, a Model of a safe educational environment with all interrelated components was developed.
The practical significance of the work lies in the fact that the proposed by the author gerontological models can serve as a basis to design different variants of gerontological units, taking into account regional characteristics. The obtained material is useful to lay the basis for the development of a program to improve the process of gerontological education in the region and the introduction of innovative learning technologies.
Today institutes of the third age on the basis of higher educational institutions operate in many regions of Russia, but the most successful educational projects are created on the basis of Tyumen state oil and gas University, Kazan state University, Novosibirsk state technical University, Baltic Federal Im. Kant University, Tomsk state University, Mari state University, etc. And while most of higher educational institutions in the framework of additional education teach retro students according to separate training modules and areas that take into account specific educational preferences of the elderly, several Universities, such as Smolensk state University and Eastern Federal University have chosen comprehensive continuous education. 90% of the first-year students wished to continue their education in the second year, then in the third, etc., the project allows retro students to move from one course to another in a continuous chain. At the end of one year of study, students pass a qualifying final work on the topic of their interest and receive a certificate. Having studied four years, the elderly students receive the certificate of bachelor of higher national school, after another year of training they obtain the certificate of the master. Before making the curriculum for the courses, a study of the educational preferences of older persons is carried out, and when retro students pass from one course to another, these programs are refined and adjusted, i.e. the educational system operates on a flexible schedule.
Formation of gerontological faculties on the basis of such universities with experience in gerontology will allow to use much wider the possibilities of institutes of the third age, to unify in a single educational space not only training of the elderly in bachelor's and master’s programs, but also retraining of people of pre-retirement age, and also training of gerontological personnel and research and international activity in the field of gerontology. A great advantage of the creation of gerontological faculties in higher educational institutions is the availability of personnel, scientific, methodological and material and technical bases, as well as the emergence of year-round mentoring base for intergenerational interaction of student-retro-student.
On the basis of comparative analysis of the experience of the third-age institutions in Russian regions, ten-years experience of the third-age Institute at Smolensk state University, as well as the results of the study of "Psychological support of the educational process of the elderly" and the study of the features of intergenerational interaction of the student-retro-student in a single educational space, a structural and functional model of the faculty of gerontology within the University was developed. In our research the number of young students equals the number of retro-students. 100 elderly respondents, aged from 55 to 81 years old, study at the Institute of the third age (80% female, 20% male). Marital status: 34% married, 33% widow (widower), 33% single. Education of the respondents: 48%-secondary vocational, 52% - higher education.
The model of the faculty of gerontology includes three areas: the training area, the rehabilitation area and the support area (Fig.1). This model structure provides a multifunctional educational activity of the gerontological unit.
The main area is the area of training which includes three training Departments:
1) the Department of education where older people are taught their desired competencies, that is about the same what the institutions of the third age do, with regard to educational preferences of the students;
2) the Department of retraining of the elderly and people of pre-retirement age in the framework of Pension reform, which is responsible for the professional component of the faculty with a block of special programs of retraining and requalification. Nowadays only 17 per cent of the working-age population is covered by the requalification programme. Besides, the preservation of labor activity of the elderly is possible only with their effective medical support, which is connected with the development of gerontology health and educational technologies. These aspects are to be taken into account when preparing training and retraining programmes.
3) the Department of gerontological personnel training.
There is no uniform complex system for professional training of gerontologists in Russia today. In general, the gerontology staff sufficiency in Russia is only 20%. Gerontologists are not sufficient not only in Russia but also abroad. The training of students of gerontology and geriatrics is carried out only in 11 countries. In Russia, this specialty was first introduced only in 2001. To solve this problem, it is necessary to introduce into the program of educational institutions the training of such specialists-gerontologists as psychologists, doctors, nurses, conflictologists, lawyers, volunteers to work with the elderly. Thus, there is a necessity for a system of training and re-training of moderators, Tutors, geragoses.
In addition to the three training departments the training area should include the Department of scientific-research work, which is responsible for the exchange of work experience, generalization of practice, carrying out research and organizing conferences, international activities. Young teachers, postgraduates and University students are also involved in research and development of new gerontology educational programs, and they do it on a volunteer basis.
The Department of practice is responsible for the practical interaction of the student-retro student, that is, young students receive a professional mentoring platform, and retro students acquire modern knowledge in the right educational areas in the framework of a single educational space throughout the academic year.
The results of the study of the features of intergenerational interaction have shown that all 100% of students and retro-students have agreed to further interaction and cooperation in a single educational space. 78% of retro students are ready to become mentors to young students, 94% of students are ready to share their knowledge and skills with the older generation. Younger students would like to receive from older mentors the experience of pre-school and school education (48%), social work experience (35%), professional and life experiences in general (13%), others (10%). Younger students can share with retro students hobbies (60%), professional skills (22%), life experience (Sidorchuk, 2016b).
Having adapted to the educational process, older people began to ask to provide them with psychological assistance in different directions such as problems of distrust of an elderly partner, treason, severe chronic diseases, material need, sexual problems, relationships with children, etc., which led to the creation of the Department of psychological support.
The results of the study of "Psychological support of the educational process of the elderly" have shown that older learners need psychological help, 75% of older students are of opinion that single people are the most needy ones, 20% of respondents believe that psychological help is essential for all, 15% consider that psychological help is necessary for couples.
Prior to training, 60% of older students did not know whom to ask and where to appeal for psychological help. 20% of them highlighted that this phenomenon is not accepted in the Russian society and therefore people do not seek help from psychologists, 15% identified such a feeling as embarrassment. The problem of people’s low awareness about the possibility of obtaining qualified psychological assistance leads to an increasing level of depression among the elderly population. Based on the results of the study, it was concluded that the educational process of older learners is to be accompanied by psychological support and it is necessary to create a tutor service in gerontology education. Visiting specialized educational institutions for persons of the third age, older learners are able to get the services of psychologists and they are provided with full psychological assistance.
The support area is responsible for cooperation with various external structures. Gerontological units should have extensive contacts with regional print and electronic media (mass media) and their own information resources (Internet site).
The sphere of effective cooperation includes issues of financial modernization of the educational process, in particular, tuition fees, when Pension funds and Departments take this important for older people material issue. It should be noted that if we have free educational space, the percentage of pensioners successfully undergoing the process of adaptation in connection with retirement will increase significantly.
The rehabilitation area includes recreation area for retro students (rest room), medical centre and security Department.
It is necessary to have a medical center in the gerontology educational institution, to have a first-aid kit, to train the staff of the institution to provide first aid. The next necessary condition is to have on each floor where there are classrooms, rest rooms so that it is possible for retro students to have a rest between classes and to communicate with peers. In the future, it is desirable to create a kind of retro sitting rooms like family living rooms, where older learners can not only talk in a relaxed atmosphere, but also to carry out various leisure activities.
The security Department organizes community policing, civil defense (prevention of traffic violations, drug addiction, smoking and alcoholism), safety, which includes familiarization of students and staff of educational institutions with the rules and tactics of safe behavior in extreme and emergency situations, for example, electrical safety while working in computer classes, protection from terrorism, etc. The willingness of the teaching staff to solve problems in the field of security in the institution plays an important role. The management and teachers should periodically conduct briefings with retro students and practical training on emergency evacuation, knowledge of escape routes and exits.
Into account were taken the results of studies “Educational needs of older students”, “Value orientations of older students”, “Personal and professional qualities of teachers at the third age Institute”, “Communication system of retro-students”, “Psychological support of the educational process of the elderly” that were carried out at the third age Institute on the basis of the Smolensk State University. Respondents were 100 elderly students aged 55 to 81 who are consumers of educational services of the third age Institute.
An integrated indicator based on the safety criteria of various aspects of the educational process was chosen as an indicator of security.
The structure of the integrated safe educational environment of the gerontological unit and its components:
1. The study of the spatial-technical component
This component is responsible for physical and sanitary-hygienic (environmental) protection. This includes mainly material objects (premises, building architecture and interior design, the spatial structure of educational and recreational facilities, etc.) and technical facilities (databases and reference systems, storage of multimedia information).
In Russia, 60% of older people rate their health as average, and 40% as poor. 43% of older respondents from all students took classes to improve their health. Since the elderly have polymorbidity (multiplicity of diseases), special requirements are imposed in terms of infrastructure: geronto-education institutions must be equipped with special equipment taking into account physical and age-related features. At the end of the education, at least 65% of retro-students report an improvement in their physical condition during the period of study.
These include mainly:
-subjects of the educational process and their features, as well as the communicative sphere.
Creating a comfortable learning environment is achieved through various factors affecting the optimal level of psychological comfort and safety of the subjects of the educational process, among which are:
The system of monitoring the quality of the conditions of the organization of the educational process, the educational environment, guaranteeing the safety of the individual development of the retro-student (monitoring achievements, monitoring the psycho-physical health, monitoring the satisfaction of participants with the educational process, etc.).
Monitoring of psychophysical health showed that at the end of the school year, 62% of retro-students noted an improvement in their physical condition, and 81% indicated an improvement in their emotional state. 100% of students in the elderly, regardless of the major of the educational activity, no longer have obvious acute manifestations of depression. Monitoring of educational preferences is required, especially for those who have been studying for several years in a row, and monitoring should be conducted both at the beginning and at the end of each semester of study.
On average, 80% of the elderly are satisfied with the education they receive, 20% partly, pointing out the need to reduce the cost of education and expand educational areas.
The results of the study of the interaction between teachers and retro students in the framework of the third age Institute showed that elderly students attributed the main positive personal qualities of the third age teacher to the following: patience, benevolence, sociability, consistency, tolerance, sense of humour. According to the retro-students, 70% of teachers always strive to create a pleasant atmosphere in communication, give students the opportunity to ask questions, and increase activity of students, try to avoid conflicts.
Older students consider the indifference, irritability, intolerance, lack of balance, arrogance, lack of respect for age, sloppiness to be the negative personal qualities of a teacher of the third age Institute.
The level of professional skill of a teacher is determined by a complex of factors: personal qualities, level of academic and methodical training, motivation, a sense of professional affiliation, satisfaction with the results of his work. The appearance of the teacher also matters.
Among the main positive professional qualities of a teacher of the third age Institute, retro-students see: professionalism in their field, competence, ability to communicate material, respect for old age and lack of memory in older students, knowledge of the psychology of the older age. To the negative professional qualities of a teacher in the Institute of the third age older students attributed the ability not to put oneself above the students, ignorance of one's subject.
Education of older people should be more practical (learning by doing), followed by reflection, understanding their own achievements, finding their own resources.
The results of the study of the perception of social support as a factor in experiencing loneliness in old age showed that it is very important to have an effective positive interaction of teachers and retro-students.
And if at the beginning of education, 55% of the elderly thought it was not important what to study, the main thing was to communicate with their peers, then after a year of study, the educational activity of the elderly is associated with the realization of their interests in acquiring specific knowledge and competencies.
At the beginning of their studies, 42% of older students had a high level of subjective feeling of loneliness, and only 20% had a low level. At the end of the education, no one had a high level of subjective feeling of loneliness, and the average was only 22% of respondents. Therefore, the participation of the elderly in the educational process contributes to their fuller inclusion in social life, reducing their level of loneliness by expanding the circle of communication and a favourable process of social adaptation, supporting their cognitive and motivational spheres.
All older people share their knowledge with their friends (65%), relatives (60%), children (35%), and grandchildren (20%). Thus, at the same time, the process of transferring knowledge from generation to generation is taking place.
90% of older people who start training have low self-esteem. The main problems of older students include the following: loneliness (65%), as the most important problem, finance difficulties (40%), disunity in the family (25%), 15% identified problems in communication between generations.
The main factors that motivate the activities of older students are personal development, a sense of belonging, awareness of the student’s role, interest, social connections. Personal and professional qualities of the teacher, constant communication with their peers, high motivation of retro students to gain new knowledge and skills greatly increases the self-esteem of the elderly.
Among the core terminal values of the group of elderly students, which define the main goal of the individual existence of each person, were highlighted health; vigorous activity and cognition; financial stability and love. This group noted mainly the values associated with an active lifestyle. Among the non-learning group of respondents, the following values were selected: life wisdom; productive life; freedom; happiness of family life; health. The chosen values most closely accompany the quiet, measured aging process and say that it is primarily important for people how they have lived their lives, and not what is happening at the moment.
Among the instrumental values of the students, by which is meant the most preferred course of action of the individual, were chosen diligence; cheerfulness; good manners; education; responsibility. In turn, the non-learning group noted performance; independence; responsibility; cheerfulness; education. The similarity of results among the instrumental values of learning and non-learning older people is most likely due to the age of respondents and their life experience: after all, the older a person becomes, the more responsible and more executive they become when solving problems of any nature.
These values must be considered when organizing educational activities in a gerontological institution.
Educational programs for the elderly should be tested, available and give positive results.
It is also necessary to differentiate the forms and methods of education, modern educational technologies, first of all, health-educational technologies, aimed at creating a system of knowledge and skills in the field of health and preserving the intellectual potential of retro-students. 88% of retro-students are not against the inclusion in the educational process of an additional block of recreational and educational training, since they later actively apply the mastered methods of self-healing in everyday life.
Analyzing the organizational component, for the effective work of the educational gerontological institution, it is necessary to take into account the level of planning and management vertically and horizontally; the level of development of self-government; evaluation and reflection of educational activities; cooperation with various organizations; financial modernization of the educational process. The most important characteristic affecting the activities of the institution is the prestige of this institution, moreover, most of the retro listeners, would like to see the head of a gerontological educational institution as a gerontologist.
Having considered only a few aspects of gerontological education, designing a structural and functional model of the faculty of gerontology and analyzing the main components of a safe educational environment for the older people, we can say that we are only at the beginning of a long way to the lifelong learning. The issues of adaptation of the elderly to long-term education at faculties of gerontology with options for bachelor's and master's degrees, where an elderly person moves from one course of study to the next, are waiting to be resolved. We should take into consideration age differentiation of training, especially of very old people and centenarians and the specifics of their tutoring. In the short term it is necessary to solve the problems of distance learning of the elderly living in remote areas, mainly rural residents and disabled people. This process requires a significant modernization of information technology, but it is hampered by the problem of computer illiteracy of older people in all regions of Russia. The emergence of online services that provide up-to-date information on educational and information services for the elderly can help to solve this problem. Not only elderly people who have successfully mastered the skills of computer literacy, but also specialists-gerontologists can apply here for information. The most successful Russian example in this area is the online service «Baba-Deda». In the global Internet space special search systems for older users, such as Cranky, have been operating for a long time.
Professional mentoring in each of the industries and activities is to become a strategic direction of gerontological education. Such projects allow to solve the problems of phased career guidance, increase the prestige of professions, strengthen the spiritual connection between generations. It is also necessary to establish a permanent consulting service for the elderly, which focuses on the interests and needs of the active user and makes recommendations in the field of educational, professional and personal development. It is necessary to expand the space of gerontological education by volunteer activity.
Tolerance and psychological support from the nearest environment of retro students should also be the most important state social task and creation of family educational projects can help to solve it.
The training of personnel for gerontology educational units is of special importance today. It is necessary to develop not only institutional training of staff for social and gerontological work, but also out-institutional one, where training of specialists is carried out in network professional communities.
Summarizing the above, we can conclude that the policy of creating an effective educational component of the gerontological infrastructure has been carried out in Russia for more than 20 years. To expand the gerontology educational space in each region of Russia, it is necessary to use various innovative technologies, successfully combining them with traditional ones: online services for the elderly with a basic course of computer literacy, institutional and out-institutional training to provide additional educational services to older people, volunteer activities, intergenerational mentoring.
Thus, a variety of gerontology educational projects, technologies, units within the framework of a single concept of gerontological education will strengthen the Russian gerontological education aimed at the development of modern competencies of senior citizens. The creation of faculties of gerontology within the framework of a unified system of regional gerontological education is becoming a promising form of gerontological infrastructure that makes it possible to develop psychological strategies of "positive" aging. The suggested multifunctional Model of faculty of gerontology and the security Model of gerontology educational environment, which consists of interrelated spatial, technical, psycho-communicative, content-methodological and organizational components, will allow to solve the tasks of training and retraining retro students and the training of gerontological personnel.
The level of psychological security of the subjects of the educational process of gerontological units depends on various factors affecting the optimal level of psychological comfort: the monitoring system of the quality of educational organization, personal and professional qualities of teachers, values, self-assessment and the level of motivation of retro-students, psychological support of the educational process, social environment and the quality of interpersonal relations in the educational environment, the level of tolerance of the subjects of the educational process.
In case of the proper organization of the educational process, 90% of retro-students agree that education has allowed them to take their rightful place in society, they have learned to think creatively, make friends, improve relationships with relatives.
Such multifunctional gerontological units of a new type on the basis of higher educational institutions will allow expanding the gerontological educational space and effectively correcting the gerontological educational process at the regional level.
And we would like very much that Wells’ warning about "more and more the future of humanity is a race between education and disaster..." would not become a real threat but would make the life of an elderly person positively intense and deservedly happy.
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