Thank you to the BSG for granting me a bursary to take part in this year’s conference. It was an opportunity for me to present a paper at the Educational Gerontology SIG Symposium. It inspired me to reflect on my own recent experience in the light of my previous research. I was greatly encouraged by the participation in this symposium of younger generations, and participants from outside the UK. The session was very interesting and participative, with excellent discussion despite being online. Educational gerontology encompasses both issues around the teaching of gerontology, and issues around learning in later life. The former was not the subject of this particular symposium, but had been discussed at a recent special seminar, which highlighted the current dismal position of gerontology in university education, certainly in the UK. The latter -older learners – still seems to be a niche area within gerontology, perhaps because it’s seen as a matter for the already well educated, middle classes. In that light, it highlights the heterogeneity of the population of so-called ‘older people’.
Whenever I attend a BSG conference I have tended to gravitate towards any sessions labelled ‘critical gerontology’, which for many years now have pointed to the limitations of the 20th century theories such as ‘structured dependency’. This year was no exception. I joined the symposium in good time and spent ages trying to figure out why my video wasn’t working. It eventually dawned on me that it was disabled by host. That was disappointing, and it made the experience very remote. Unfortunately, my internet connection went down towards the end, so I don’t know if the symposium ended with a video discussion among participants, and whether indeed some new exciting theories or concepts are emerging.
The online experience overall to me limited the joy associated with conference attendance. Yes, it was possible to get an idea of the range of issues on the current agenda, and to see new faces emerging. In so far as sessions encouraged active involvement from participants, it worked fairly well. In general, a great deal of work must have gone into organising the technical aspects of the conference, and I congratulate the organisers. Personally, I can’t wait to join the real world of gerontologists.