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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Academic Retirement Patterns in Late Life !

         My discovery of the article referred to at the bottom of this blog entry is very interesting. It is about retired or about-to-be retired academics who are 70 years or older. In this blog I will explore the key findings and then express my feelings, attitudes and goals connected to them.
         In the introduction, the researchers report, “…For many professors the distinction between ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ is often blurred.” For me this has definitely been the case.  l like to teach. I also enjoy interacting with the students while still having control over what happens within the class. Outside my teaching I spend almost as much time searching for blog material as I do preparing for class activities. I enjoy both equally.  They are about discovery and communication of ideas. As long as I can remember I have been fascinated with ideas.
         A major premise of the article’s researchers is that retirement provides us with an opportunity for personal growth through leisure activity. How most academics individually define leisure activity can be somewhat complex. It’s much more diverse than fishing or playing golf.
          Travel was the second most common leisure activity reported by retired professors. The only real traveling I have done was several years ago when I received a grant to present my ageism research at a conference in Barcelona Spain. My wife was able to accompany me. We landed in Paris and stayed there for several days. While we were there we visited the Eiffel tower! It is so amazing to be in the presence of something I have admired and wondered about most of my adult life. Then we went to Barcelona Spain, where the Conference was held. While there we visited the Picasso Art Gallery. He is one of the world’s most famous artists.  The trip was wonderful and if I had a lot more money after retirement I could imagine traveling all over the world.        
         The authors say that “When examining the relationship between occupational status and leisure, it is important to keep in mind that leisure activity is self-defined and that it is the actors themselves who determine what the meaning of leisure is for them.” There were three questions they asked both those who were retired and those who were about to retire.

[1]  Dorfman, L.T. and Kolarik, D.C.  (2005).  Leisure and the Retired Professor: Occupation Matters, Educational Gerontology, 31, 343-361

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