Categorising European experience: the ForAge Project and the construction of knowledge of later-life learning

Percy, Keith; Hughes, Jonathan; Jamieson, Anne and Anderson, Sasha (2014). Categorising European experience: the ForAge Project and the construction of knowledge of later-life learning. International Journal of Education and Ageing, 3(3) pp. 225–237.

Abstract

The ‘Forage for Later-life Learning’ Project is an EU Lifelong Learning Programme Grundtvig multi-lateral network, funded 2012-2015. Its rationales are the development of a database of knowledge on later-life learning and the use of that database as a means of promoting discussion, understanding, recognition and change in later-life learning.
This article discusses the objectives and rationale of the ForAge database and considers its intended target audiences. In particular, it argues that the database became eclectic, deliberately identifying and drawing on different “kinds” of knowledge. It shows how the main database categories, which determined how the knowledge was “constructed” were allowed to evolve and define themselves as the content of the database increased.
The article discusses the justification and operational implications of the inclusion of material according to criteria of “relevance, quality and usefulness” and in both English and in other European languages.
The article concludes that the database does not reveal the presence in Europe of a significant volume of fundamental research-based knowledge on later-life learning; that much of the knowledge collected is based on the presumption that later-life learning has second-order goals and that the database usefully hedges its bets on what counts as “knowledge” in the field of later-life learning.

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