Senior education has changed significantly in recent years, also thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors today are no longer a homogeneous group in terms of age, language skills or the extent to which they use IT technologies or social networks. Thus, senior education must offer a wide range of activities more than ever before and differentiate its offer with regards to different target groups, says Kateřina Pevná, the Head of the Department of Senior Education at the Institute of Lifelong Learning at MENDELU.
“The myth of a large lecture room full of dozens of seniors who are only listening to a frontal lecture is gradually falling. Seniors want more, they want to experience and live something,” said Pevná. According to her, the COVID-19 pandemic period has brought many challenges to all levels of education, not excluding senior education. “Over the last two years, trends have begun to emerge that will continue into the post-COVID-19 era and further beyond,” said Pevná.
What seniors used to demand as a kind of certitude attribute, i.e., longer-term courses, is now being rather rejected. On the contrary, they require courses for a maximum of one year. “There is great interest in courses that combine not only lectures with deep professional erudition, but also an emphasis on experience; for example, in the form of various field trips to some interesting places of fauna and flora,” said Pevná.
The Flora of Moravia is a fresh example of a course at MENDELU that is keeping up with the times. Four expert lectures complement two trips to sites of interest in terms of plant compositions, where seniors can establish their own herbarium under the guidance of professionals. The All about Milk course is a similarly structured course. The seniors can learn about milk as a raw material from which they can make yoghurt, fresh cheese or ice cream in the laboratories and then continue with the production at home.
“The requirement to try something with your own hands, on your own skin, is very common. Thus, for example, courses in flower arranging or other creative work are very popular, “said Pevná, adding that there is also a huge interest in intergenerational programmes for grandparents and their grandchildren. Their goal is to strengthen the ties between the generations; to learn together and from each other. “In the post-COVID-19 era, it is a reaction to the previous generation separation, which the seniors suffered from significantly and feared more than the disease itself,” Pevná added. In August, seniors and their grandchildren can spend three days full of creating, working in the laboratory, or exploring the forest at MENDELU. Furthermore, with the start of a new academic year, they can join two other thematic intergenerational programmes.
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