Joanna Walker, University of Southampton
and Diocese of Guildford, UK
1
International Conference on
Ageing & Spirituality ...
What is the role of learning?
 Is spiritual development part of normal ageing or
does it require active fostering?
 Can ...
 In the recognition of spiritual capacities and
resources
 In the movement between life / faith stages,
often formulated...
Research can be described / critiqued in
three areas:
 Human lifelong development models (and the
stages of faith/spiritu...
 Ask which areas are in need of illumination
 Choose 3 intellectual questions, preferably
with policy & practice implica...
 Adult lifespan psychology – stages of
development (Jung, Erikson, Levinson)
 Disengagement, activity & gerotranscendenc...
 Spirituality construed as process or resource
for later life: making sense, supporting the
self, giving purpose and dire...
 Cultures of ageing: enabling or disabling? –
ageism, welfare &
security, work/retirement, intergenerational
solidarity, ...
 Spirituality (variously defined) can grow along
with age – part of the life story and meanings
we weave by reflecting on...
 Valuing the later faith/spiritual journey, responding
to its various phases
 Enabling/expecting continuing development
...
 Doctoral studies are being carried out at
Centre for Research on Ageing, Faculty of
Social and Human Sciences, Highfield...
 Achenbaum, W.A. and Bengtson, V.L (1994) Re-engaging the
disengagement theory of aging: on the history and assess-
ment ...
 Erikson, E.H. (1963) Childhood and Society (revised
edition), Harmondsworth, Penguin.
 Erikson, E.H., Erikson, J.M. and...
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Jo Walker - Spiritual Development in later life: a learning Experience?

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  • DefinitionsSpiritual developmentNormal ageingLearning
  • My starting place from previous work (Walker 2010), Learning from the inside out, mapping spirituality and ageingAnd experience as an adult educator in Diocese / educational gerontologist in HE dept./ lay person and disciple!Thus, as for learning, we come with innate capacities and potentialities and styles which we can use.Within the ‘stage models’ there are often tasks or states to be ‘achieved’ that enable onward movement. Learning may be involved in both reaching and recognising these.Continuity models, such as growth in self-systems (Atchley) or a ‘mature imagination’ (Biggs) are classic expressions of adult education ideas that we learn by reflecting on experience (and indeed are constituted by it)
  • As a student and now through a greater exposure to literature, reframed these themes.Areas in which I now seek more detailed understanding.This presentation describes progress so far (end 1st p/t year): mostly searching and reading with enlarged academic resources available.Also still drawing on practice, namely adult education in Anglican church (faith development and discipleship) and on previous experience in educational gerontology.And my own faith/spiritual journey? Noticed fellow travellers on short courses!
  • However, these are still very large areas of enquiry, so pick 3 questions to focus the review.Following advice on a way in to a diverse field (social gerontology is very multidisciplinary, as is adult education / learning).I looked at (read at varying levels) c70 papers / chapters during my first part-time year as a result of searches on academic database web of science/knowledge (worldwide). I I used search terms ‘ag(e)ing and spirituality’ , sometimes adding spiritual development. The way these papers address these three themes: 20 on soc/psych stages; 24 on meaning-making (and related con-commitants of spirituality); 14 on contexts for development. A further 12 were reviews that covered all themes or were mostly concerned with definitional or methodological (measurement) topics.Reflection on these proportions: Such searches would tend to favour the more empirical research on ‘meaning making’; Material on ‘contexts’ was more likely to be featured / discussed in book chapters or edited texts.Social sciences (soc and psych) are heavily represented but also research from medical, health and social work fields of professional practice.Most lit still from US. Relevant because church and religion are different phenomena in US compared with UK/Europe.I provide a few examples from each area in a handout reading list (not all 70!) to give a flavour.
  • Outline each strand v. briefly
  • Focus on latter 2 points
  • Definition of spiritual(ity) and religion is still a big issue and seen by some as hindrance to progress in the field.Opinions vary as to the ‘concsiousness’ of the learning done, either in moving between stages or in reflecting on experience.Some models have learning and growth as a key task for later life, making sense of experience or moving beyond to greater fulfillment of potential.Role for church/faith communities for being the place that older people learn and grow in their spirituality til the end of life (not just as long as they can be useful).Recognising the ‘wiring’ and responding with encouragement and opportunities for growth.Methodological challenges in establishing greater knowledge and understanding in this field:Definitions, concept, models and theories that lead to operational variables; research methods – quantitative and qualitative empirical work, constructionist or interpretive approaches, etc.
  • These observations mostly from Diocesan experience, working with church ministers (lay and ordained) on ‘MOP’ events) and older Christian learners.‘Re-membering’ from Jewell, 2001 ‘Older People and the Church’ Methodist Publishing
  • Jo Walker - Spiritual Development in later life: a learning Experience?

    1. 1. Joanna Walker, University of Southampton and Diocese of Guildford, UK 1 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    2. 2. What is the role of learning?  Is spiritual development part of normal ageing or does it require active fostering?  Can it be learned and in what ways?  What support is needed to facilitate spiritual development in later life? * * Midlife to end of life 2 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    3. 3.  In the recognition of spiritual capacities and resources  In the movement between life / faith stages, often formulated as ‘tasks’  In the development of resilience/coping with change  As part of the maturing self-identity / ways of being, usually based on experience 3 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    4. 4. Research can be described / critiqued in three areas:  Human lifelong development models (and the stages of faith/spirituality that can be mapped in similar ways)  Reflection on experience that leads to ways of knowing & believing in later life  Conscious learning as part of spiritual journeying 4 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    5. 5.  Ask which areas are in need of illumination  Choose 3 intellectual questions, preferably with policy & practice implications 1. What are the social-psychological stages of (later) life? 2. Is spirituality a response to meaning- making in ageing? 3. What are the contexts that help or hinder spiritual development in later life? 5 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    6. 6.  Adult lifespan psychology – stages of development (Jung, Erikson, Levinson)  Disengagement, activity & gerotranscendence (Cumming & Henry, Achenbaum, Tornstam)  Continuity and productive ageing (Atchley, Butler and others)  Faith & religious ‘formation’ – stages and models of faith (Fowler, Moody, MacKinlay) Key concepts: individuation and integration; spiritual maturity; journey & ‘second half’ 6 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    7. 7.  Spirituality construed as process or resource for later life: making sense, supporting the self, giving purpose and direction to life  An ‘inner journey’ that can contribute to quality of life & coping with difficulty & loss  Such resilience & ‘positive’ ageing potentially supported by care & welfare agents  Spirituality a means towards reaching human potential, in purpose, role, wisdom etc. Key concepts: resilience, generativity, transcendence 7 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    8. 8.  Cultures of ageing: enabling or disabling? – ageism, welfare & security, work/retirement, intergenerational solidarity, consumerism  Cultures of the spirit: secularism, pluralism, materialism, church and public life  Faith communities: theologies, practices, traditions, support for spiritual growth and members’ participation, faith transmission  Non-religious spiritual seeking/growth and ‘intentional communities’ (Atchley) Key concepts: dwelling, seeking and spiritualities of practice 8 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    9. 9.  Spirituality (variously defined) can grow along with age – part of the life story and meanings we weave by reflecting on experience  We may also be ‘wired’ for spiritual development, especially from midlife onwards but concepts and models need more testing  Encouragement is needed from circumstances (life and times); from the cultures and faith/spiritual communities that we’re part of  Big methodological challenges for research 9 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    10. 10.  Valuing the later faith/spiritual journey, responding to its various phases  Enabling/expecting continuing development  Being the place where meaning and purpose can be reassessed and negotiated  Neither taking advantage nor excluding  Facilitating older people’s continuing faith journeys, discipleship and ministries  Discerning the calling of older age and its vocations  Alongside older people in faith communities, expressing God’s mission in the world  Standing with older people in the burdens and blessings of ageing  ‘Re-membering’ and holding those who need support 10 International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013
    11. 11.  Doctoral studies are being carried out at Centre for Research on Ageing, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom www.soton.ac.uk/ageingcentre  Supervisors: Professor P.G. Coleman and Dr E. Schroeder-Butterfill  Contact e: jkw1g12@soton.ac.uk (Uni) or jo.walker@cofeguildford.org.uk (Diocese) International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013 11
    12. 12.  Achenbaum, W.A. and Bengtson, V.L (1994) Re-engaging the disengagement theory of aging: on the history and assess- ment of theory development in gerontology. The Geront- ologist, 34: 756-63.  Atchley, R.C (1999) Continuity and Adaptation in Aging: Creating positive experiences, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press.  Atchley, R.C. (2009) Spirituality and Aging, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press.  Butler, R.N. (1989) Productive Aging in V.L. Bengtson and K.W. Shaie (Eds.) The Course of Later Life: Research and Reflections, New York, Springer.  Cumming, E. and Henry, W (1961) Growing Old: The process of disengagement, New York, Basic Books. International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013 12
    13. 13.  Erikson, E.H. (1963) Childhood and Society (revised edition), Harmondsworth, Penguin.  Erikson, E.H., Erikson, J.M. and Kivnick, H.Q. (1986) Vital In- volvement in Old Age: The experience of Old Age in Our Time, New York, Norton.  Fowler, J.W. (1981) Stages of Faith, New York, Harper & Row.  Jung, C.G. (1972) The Transcendent Function, in H. Read et al (Eds.) The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche: Volume 8. The collected works of C.G. Jung, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.  Levinson, D.J. (1986) A Conception of Adult Development, American Psychologist 41: 3-13.  MacKinlay, E. (2001) The Spiritual Dimension of Ageing, London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.  Moody, H.R. and Carroll, D. (1997) The Five Stages of the Soul, New York, Anchor Books.  Tornstam, L. (1995) Gerotranscendence: A developmental theory of positive aging, New York, Springer. International Conference on Ageing & Spirituality July 2013 13

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