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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ageism and Youth Continued

More About  Ageism and Youth[i]

         This post is an addition to a recent one dealing with the experiences of young children that may lead to adult attitudes of ageism.  Most of the research was gathered in Taiwan but Western material is also considered. In the beginning of the article it is stated that in Taiwan elementary schools “…older people are often portrayed in school textbooks as insignificant, unhealthy, sad, passive, and dependent. That is, ageism emerges in school textbooks in subtle ways.”   The study also reports that “…Taiwan, in fact, has aged faster than any other country in the world.”  The article goes on to state that ‘under the atmosphere of ageism, younger generations, on one hand, discriminate against older people: and on the other hand they are anxious about their own aging.”
         Analysis finds that few older people appear in Taiwan’s textbooks. “Over 96% of textbook pages contain no older characters or aging issues.” Is this true for the textbooks of your children?  The article cites other studies, which assert “…that older people are always portrayed as grandparents or as passive and minor characters.” As far as work is concerned “…older people in textbooks are described to be engaged in leisure and unproductive activities , such  as fishing, walking, gardening, or sitting in a rocking chair.”
On a positive note it is reported that “… 82.4% of older people are characterized with positive personality; only 2.1% are characterized negatively.” 
         At the same time some sexism appears; “…knowledgeable and active roles were always older men and never women…older women, under sexism and ageism are doubly peripheralized. Actually, older women are more active and positive than older men in real life.”  The article cites a study from the UK that that tells us “…women participating in the University of the Third Age outnumber men in the UK by a ratio of four to one. Therefore, the textbooks should present the real images and pictures of older women to avoid aging and gender stereotypes.”
         In the  Conclusion Section of the article it is stated that “First of all, Taiwanese textbooks, similar to the textbooks of western countries, pay little attention to aging education.  Over 96% of elementary school textbooks in Taiwan have no older characters or aging issues.  Secondly, older women under sexism and ageism, do not have equal status with older men.
         Finally , the majority of older people in textbooks are described as being engaged in leisurely unproductive activities…. But the a difference from western societies is that they do not often describe older people as sick and dependant people.  They also see elders as having positive personality characteristics and finally “…intergenerational relationship is recognized in Taiwanese elementary school textbooks, albeit the relationship between the two generations is very narrow and limited.

[i]  Chin-Shan, H. (2011). Aging Education in Elementary School Textbooks in Taiwan. Educational Gerontology ,37: 235-247,Copyright C             Taylor and Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0360-1277 print / 1521-0472 online
             DOI: 10.1080/03601271003608837

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