CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON ADULT LEARNING
In our research, we have subsumed learning in senior citizens’ music participation, especially when the participation included regular rehearsals. Although we insist on using the term “senior citizens” in our project, we also use terms honored by other authors, such as “older adults,” as we refer to the literature throughout this chapter. The term “senior citizen” is retained when referring to our current project.
The question of how adults learn has piqued the interest of scholars and practitioners since adult education was established as a field of scholarship and practice in the 1920s. Almost a decade later, no single theory of adult learning has been identified as consummate (Brookfield, 1986; S. B. Merriam, 2001b); however, research within the field of education and subfields of adult education and gerontological education have formed a foundation of knowledge on this topic, including the development of a number of models of learning in adulthood and older adulthood (Dabback & Smith, 2012; Findsen and Formosa, 2011). Though adult learning theory is not intended to be the major focus of this chapter, it is nonetheless “at the heart of all adult education practice” (S. B. Merriam, 2001b, p. 1). Current models of adult learning and lifelong learning can serve as conceptual frameworks through which the music participation of senior citizens can be examined, including the identification of characteristics of senior citizen music learners and the types of musical experiences in which they choose to involve themselves.
An in-depth description of extant learning theories, models, and conceptual frameworks would in and of itself constitute another book. Many writers have accomplished this very well (Belanger, 2011; Findsen & Formosa, 2011; Jarvis, Holford, & Griffin, 2003; Lengrand, 1986; Leonard, 2002; S. B. Merriam, 1993, 2001b, 2008; S. B. Merriam & Caffarella, 1991; Smith & Defrates-Dench, 2009). However, a few theories, models, and frameworks relate particularly to learners who are senior citizens. These include andragogy, self-directed learning, experiential learning, transformational learning, and geragogy. A brief overview of each is provided in this section.