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New teaching guidelines aimed at helping seniors learn better

These are based on theory that they require different approach to pick up skills effectively

Malavika Menon on 13 Mar 2021

The Straits Times


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Teachers and trainers providing education for seniors have been given a set of guidelines to help their students learn better.


The guidelines are based on the theory of geragogy, which says older adult learners require a different approach to pick up skills and knowledge effectively.


Launched yesterday, the guidelines were developed by the Council for Third Age (C3A), a government-linked agency, and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).


The aim is to build a more effective learning environment for seniors.


C3A administers the National Silver Academy, a network of post-secondary education institutions and community-based organisations offering subsidised learning opportunities for those aged 50 and above.


Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam, who was guest of honour at the launch at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Eunos Road, said the guidelines could help trainers adapt their teaching styles to create a better learning experience for seniors.


"I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage training partners and providers in senior learning to adopt the geragogy guidelines in your curriculum planning and course design," she said.


"With more learning opportunities tailored to their needs, seniors will be encouraged to participate and enjoy the benefits of learning (so as) to age well."


The guidelines cover three key areas.


The first focuses on understanding the unique characteristics of senior learners, including their different physical abilities, personal attitudes and learning needs.


It also looks at the various challenges they face in their learning journey, from structural issues such as not being able to keep pace with the class or use digital technology, to emotional hurdles like fear of speaking up in class or a lack of motivational support and learning resources.


The second component highlights how appropriate teaching methods can be adopted to give seniors an effective learning experience. Trainers can incorporate hands-on learning, peer learning or self-learning and take note of the achievements and input from the senior learners.


The last component looks into how a trainer's personal traits, such as how he interacts with the seniors or conducts the classes, can play a role.


Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, president of SUSS, noted how fruitful learning experiences can help seniors age well.


"They have different interests and habits and circumstances, different experiences, different mindsets, different physical abilities that affect how they take to learning and find ease and joy in learning," he said.


C3A chairman Kwok Wui San said: "Trainers need to be cognisant of these needs that call for specialised learning guidelines tailored for seniors, which are currently absent in the senior learning landscape. With these guidelines, they serve as a reference for trainers to achieve better learning outcomes and elevate teaching standards."


C3A is working with Enterprise Singapore to establish the geragogy guidelines as a national standard.


Seniors can sign up for the National Silver Academy's courses via its website at

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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