in progress edited by Daniel
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
This year, Dr. John McLeish and a
group of students from the University of Toronto create the Ulyssean Society to
encourage adults in their middle and later years to foster their creative
learning ability. They named the society after after Ulysses, the legendary
Greek explorer and hero whose final voyages took place in his later years.
In those years, many adults used to turn off their ability to learn because they accept the self-fulfilling myths about age and the aging process. Among them are the following:
Most adults become senile if they live to an advanced age
Attitudes and opinions inevitably become rigid and unchangeable in later adulthood
Powers of learning drastically decline in middle and later adulthood
Sexual powers fail in the later years
Creative powers inevitably decline as one passes into later adulthood
By the time one is 60 plus, time has run out for learning and creative enterprises
During the seventies, John McLeish
wanted to challenge those myths, because he had found that the mature students
he worked with in university extension classes and other settings year after
year were far from being "over the hill." Indeed, contrary to
the traditional view of the time, they showed a great deal of creative learning
ability. At the same time, John realized that if he was to gain acceptance of
the concept in academic circles, anecdotal evidence was going to be
insufficient. So he turned to the research on adult education. After poring over
more than 300 studies on this topic, in 1976 he published his findings in The
Ulyssean Adult: Creativity in the Middle and Later Years. The following year,
the Ulyssean Society was created in Toronto, Canada.
McLeish, his students and the first members of the society believed that the middle and later years of the adult life journey can be filled (and should be filled) with new growth, new learning, fresh creative enterprise and rich productivity. In the book The Challenge of Aging (1983). John McLeish developed the following five elements as the essential areas of study for those who would like to lead the Ulyssean life:
Learning, insight and creativity
Exploration of the self
Growth and development in the later years
Meeting change pro-actively
A zest for living
Following that philosophy, The
Ulyssean Society has functioned for more than 25 years with membership at about
200 women and men in the 55-90 age bracket. In those 25 years, more than 287
consecutive monthly program meetings have been held, almost all at Hart House on
the University of Toronto campus. Presentations by distinguished guest speakers
are followed by a social period and then by the Mosaic, a part of the program
organized and presented by members.
Educational seminars and workshops are offered several times a year; cultural excursions to museums, galleries, exhibitions, parks and theatres are monthly events, and groups of members meet regularly for book reviews, film and creative discussion. In 1985 a Ulyssean chapter was formed at Niagara-on-the-Lake and is functioning successfully.
Prepared by DS, from materials written by the Ulyssean Society (http://ulyssean.on.ca)
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Last updated on July 07, 2002.