Jewishly-informed mature adult service-learning

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gail Helene Bretan (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
H. Svi Shapiro

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to describe, implement, and interpret the intersection of service-learning, Jewish values and ways of knowing, adult education, and lifelong learning for people over the age of 50. By expanding service-learning to include both older adults and Jewish ways of knowing, there is potential for transforming these frameworks and models. Contrasting and comparing the experience of traditional American adult education with the experience of Jewish social-justice and social-action oriented ways of knowing, this study focuses on the third stage of life - transition to retirement - as a time of possible new learning, new self-identity, and new self-satisfaction through community engagement. Using the qualitative applied methodology of action-research, a new model was created and implemented in a Jewish non-profit, faith-based, social service agency as a means of discovering how older adults might benefit from service-learning modalities and how service-learning might be benefited by including older adults as well as Jewish ways of knowing. Data were obtained through observations at academic and social discussions, through collection of journals, e-mails, and other correspondences of participants and their agencies, and through evaluative processes. This study challenges the focus of service-learning on younger participants in need of academic development, skills development, character development, citizenry development, and vocational development. Older people generally have already developed these skills. They seek to simultaneously experience self-learning while giving back to the community. Themes that ran through this study were personal pleasure and satisfaction, compassion, relationships and community, and multiple viewpoints and interpretations in service, in reflection, and in learning. The results raise the issue of including older participants, as well as Jewish values and ways of knowing, into service-learning theory and practice. Based on the findings, the impact on theory and practice in secular and religious education, and especially in service-learning, is discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Service-learning, Adult education, Lifelong-learning, Jewish epistemology, Jewish education, Jewish service-learning, Baby boomers, Older adults, Mature adults, Judaism, Retirees, Compassion, Community, Pleasure, Relationships, Non-profit organizations, Social service agencies, Volunteerism and service, Aging.
Service learning
Jewish way of life
Older Jews $x Services for

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