January 1983 // Volume 21 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade

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Aging: A New Look


Kenn Barber
Washington State University

Aging: A New Look. Alexandra Robbin. Circle Pines. Minnesota: American Guidance Service, 1982. A New Look Moderator's Kit-$37.50: Participant's Packet-$6.95.

Here's some "good news" for those interested in educational programming for, with. and about the aging. Aging: A New Look is a set of self-contained group discussion program materials. It consists of:

  1. Moderator's manual-which contains a description of the program's foundations, uses. and purposes: tips on how to lead groups, ways to alter the program: aids for publicity and program evaluation: ideas for additional activities, duplication masters for handouts, and much more ... all in all, 150 pages in large, readable print.
  2. Participant's book-another 150 pages in large print of articles. discussion questions, activities. and action plans: timely cartoons, self-help and consumer information. It has an adequate appendix full of suggestions for further reading, aids for problem solving, addresses for other resources, organizations, and volunteer and advocacy groups.
  3. High Society-an original, full-color comic book that addresses personal and social issues in a series of 14 episodes: for example, ageism, senility. chemical dependency, elder abuse. crime, romance, life-long learning, and more. This section should appeal to people of all ages and educational backgrounds.
  4. Other materials-two audio cassettes (conversations with well-known oldsters), announcement poster, 25 invitational fliers, publicity materials, a "Certificate of Participation," and more.

Aging: A New Look is a discussion guide that focuses on nine "clusters" of activities including: readings-essays, articles, feature stories, problem situations. vignettes, and episodes in a comic-strip series: audio recordings - conversations with wellknown senior aclvocates; and creative activities self-assessments, reminiscences, and personal and social action plans.

It provides a plan for covering one cluster per meeting for a total of nine sessions. But, the program can easily be shortened or lengthened. And. here's an important point: it contains help for the leader/moderator to adapt it for people with physical and educational disabilities.

NOTE: It's not a textbook nor does it focus on reporting research data. census facts or figures. and doesn't contain lengthy treatises on aging theory.

From my point of view. Robbin and helpers have done a super job of designing this program kit. It has a number of advantages-it fits into the Extension style of programming: the moderator's kit can be used again and again the participant's packet has a moderate cost, yet long-term usefulness; it takes a realistic look at both difficulties and opportunities that come with aging; it provides practical, do-it-yourself instructions and help; it's easy to use, requires little preparation, doesn't require the leader/moderator to be an , expert- gerontologist; it's flexible-that is. session length is adaptable, so it can be used in a discussion group, workshop. course for credit or non-credit, alone, or as part of a larger program; and evaluation is built right in.

I highly recommend it, and enthusiastically urge you to check it out for yourself.