Teaching Gerontology

                 Apr. 20, 2011
                H.R. Moody, Editor
         Office of Academic Affairs, AARP
                 In this issue:
         - Can We Teach with Balance?
         - Teaching about the Affordable Care Act
         - Dreams of Older Americans
         - Getting Students to Talk  
         - Bioethics and Aging
         - The Aging Workforce
         - Web Sites to See
                 CAN WE TEACH WITH BALANCE?
     At the recent AGHE Conference, I presented as part of a session
 on teaching about the Affordable Care Act.  As a staffer with
 AARP, there should be no doubt about where my own political
 sympathies lie regarding healthcare reform.  But I was dismayed
 that virtually every member of the panel took if for granted
 that we should be teaching about the law from a liberal
 or progressive perspective.
     I wondered: Is this really the best way to educate our
 students about public policy?  Can we be sensitive to our own
 bias or presuppositions as teachers?  How do we achieve some
 degree of balance in approaching controversial topics?
     For the Affordable Care Act, the challenge is clear because
 there is much misinformation at large about that law.  Moreover,
 older people, as a group, have tended to be more negative about
 the law than others, and their reasons need to be better understood.
     An article in INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION reported on recent
 studies of political leanings among college faculty as follows:
      "Few aspects of faculty demographics generate more attention
 than their politics. Why is it, many want to know, that professors
 are far more likely than the general public to be liberal? Many
 theories have been put forward, including the view (much discussed
 in conservative circles) that academe is hostile to conservatives
 and tries to either weed them out or convert them.
      Two studies being released today provide more evidence that bias
 is not the cause -- and the studies provide some additional evidence
 to back the theory (put forward last year by one of the authors of
 the new work) that 'self-selection' is the primary reason so many academics are liberal.
      In brief, the self-selection idea holds that some professions
 have become 'typed' in American society in various ways that
 may relate to gender or class but could also relate to
 politics. Academe is seen as more liberal, so liberals are more
 likely to identify being an academic as something to which they
 aspire. The argument is significant because it does not contest
 the lopsided political nature of many faculties, but also suggests
 that higher education is open to those conservative scholars who
 want careers there."
 (From "Liberal) Academic Self-Selection" at

professoriate_is_liberal_because_of_self_selectionhttp://ntserver2.geron.org/t/62737/395653/3966/0/> ) <

      It's fair to assume that most faculty who teach courses in
 aging come from a liberal standpoint.  My concern is not how to
 achieve balance among faculty members but how to make sure we
 have balance in the way we teach our students.  Controversies will
 not go away, as we see in the case of healthcare reform.  The task
 of good teaching is up to us.
 -------------------------<<< >>>---------------------------

     Yes, the new healthcare reform law (Affordable Care
 Act, or ACA) is complicated and, yes, opinions are polarized.  
 Here are some websites with good source material, including
 contrasting perspectives on the law:
     SUMMARY. For a "Summary of Affordable Care Act" visit
     Also see the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll (March, 2011)
 for public attitudes toward the law, at:

For a balanced overview of the ACA, visit:
     "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (Wikipedia Article):

    "Provisions affecting Medicare" at:

Advocates for the ACA include Families USA.  For their
 views visit:

     AARP has been a prominent advocate for the ACA.  Some resources
 here include the following:
     "Fact Sheet: The Health Care Law and Medicare

     "New Health Care Law Helps Protect 18 Million Medicare
 Beneficiaries from High Drug Costs"
 http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-03-2011/fs213-donut.html <http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/62737/395653/3973/0/>

"Health Care Reform Improves Access to Medicaid Home
 and Community-Based Services" at:

 There are critics of the ACA who have advanced substantive
 policy arguments about the law.  See, for example:
     "Discussion of Proposals to Repeal the Affordable Care Act"
 http://www.healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief_pdfs/healthpolicybrief_41.pdf <http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/62737/395653/3975/0/>

     "Arguments for Repeal: What Most Needs Repealing and Replacing" at:
      The author of a new book, WHY OBAMACARE IS WRONG
 FOR AMERICA, offers critical comments at:
     In the last two weeks, the House of Representatives approved a
 bill that would fundamentally change Medicare as we have known it,
 changing it into a voucher plan.  President Obama has offered his
 own approach to budget issues as well. In next month's edition of
 "Teaching Gerontology" we will focus on resources for teaching
        about Medicare in light of current debates about its future.

      Would you like a data set showing what older people in your
 state are most concerned about and what they expect in the future?
 AARP has announced "Voices of 50+ America: Dreams & Challenges,"
 which is now available.
      In January 2011, AARP interviewed 50+ Americans from every
 state, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the
 Virgin Islands. Respondents were asked about their dreams as
 they think about what is next in their life as well as the challenges
 they see themselves facing. Additional questions were tailored to
 the unique challenges facing the 50+ in each state, so every
 survey is different. Results are available for every state, and
 additional information on Hispanic and African-American individuals
 50+ is available for some states.  To see the results, visit:
 http://www.aarp.org/personal-growth/transitions/info-02-2011/voices-america-dreams-challenges.htmlhttp://ntserver2.geron.org/t/62737/395653/3978/0/> <
 -------------------------<<< >>>---------------------------

                  GETTING STUDENTS TO TALK
      In a recent column, academic David Brooks asks the question
 "So how do we stimulate the kind of vibrant conversation in the
        classroom that we hear every day outside of it?"
      His answers:
     -Require students to recite passages
     -Have students give talks.
     -Hand out questions in advance, and ease in to discussion.
     -Set rules for discussion.
     -Have a chat (allow informal conversation)
 (From "Getting Students to Talk," CHRONICLE OF HIGHERE EDUCATION,
 Mar. 21, 2011)
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                  BIOETHICS AND AGING
     There's an e-newsletter available (no charge), "The Soul
 of Bioethics," covering topics such as end-of-life care,
 dementia, family obligations, ethics and aging, and dilemmas of
 autonomy.  The newsletter is now distributed by the HealthCare
 Chaplaincy in new York. For a sample copy or free subscription,
 send a message to: soulofbioethics@yahoo.com
 -------------------------<<< >>>---------------------------
                 THE AGING WORKFORCE  
      The number of people in the labor force aged 55 to 64 is
 PROJECTED to increase grow by 33% between 2008 and 2018, and
 the number aged 65 and older is projected to grow by 78%.  
 By contrast, those 45 to 54 year-olds and 35 to 44 year-olds
 will decrease by 5% and 1%, as Boomers grow older.
 Thanks to the BLS for these figures, from the Sloan Center for
        Aging and Work at Boston College.  Visit them at:
 -------------------------<<< >>>---------------------------

     HEALTH CARE COSTS. The Hastings Center has launched a site
 "Health Care Cost Monitor" to provide in-depth analysis of cost
 dimensions in health reform.  Available at:

ROGUE SCHOLARSHIP.  Read "Post-Aging: The Role of Technology"
 at the site devoted to "Rogue Scholarship in Aging" at:

  DATA ON OLDER AMERICANS.  For a "Profile of Older Americans:
 2010" visit:
 This electronic newsletter, edited by Harry (Rick)
 Moody, is published by the Association for Gerontology
 in Higher Education (AGHE) and co-sponsored by the Office
 of Academic Affairs at AARP. The information expressed in
 this newsletter was not composed by AGHE or any member of
 its staff. To submit items of interest or request subscription
        changes, contact hrmoody@yahoo.com

Association for Gerontology in Higher Education
 1220 L Street, NW, Suite 901,  Washington, DC 20005
 202.289.9806 • aghe@aghe.org • www.aghe.org <http://ntserver2.geron.org/t/62737/395653/252/0/>