Retired but not tired : retirement a trigger for learning.

Diseko, Ohara Ngoma
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This qualitative study employing ethnomethodology investigated whether previously employed African women between 50-59 years, termed near-old, turned to learning as a coping strategy after losing their jobs. Reflexive discussions, termed ‘herstories,’ were analysed. Whether the women experienced true crisis as a result of cessation from work, how they made meaning as they aged and to what extent retirement was a catalyst for learning formed the central lines of probing. The findings revealed that the near-old women did not consider the transition to old age a crisis. Crises in their experiences were more permanent and emotionally devastating. Meaning schemes and perspectives were transformed as they encountered unbearable work situations. Critical reflection on the situation led to action resulting in them exiting formal employment. There was strong evidence of self-directed and life-long learning. The women sought out new knowledge and skills in order to cope in the competitive work of consultancy. Instances of positive adult development attested to Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning and Brookfield’s reflective thinking. The study highlighted the need to use adult education strategies in order to promote critical reflection and to ‘conscientise’ older people about their deeply embedded beliefs that are often entrenched by their socialisation.
Near-old, Crisis, Trigger/Catalyst, Adult development, Learning, Self-empowerment, Perspective transformation, Self-directed learning, Retirement and adult unemployment