The MATURE team has substantial experience of European project work and is aware that communication issues can cause confusion. In order to minimise misunderstanding, members of the MATURE team have developed the habit of creating project glossaries to establish a common approach to key terms and concepts.

The MATURE glossary

Active learning
Learners participate fully in a group or class assuming responsibility for their own learning and that of other group members through activities that enable debate, discussion and the sharing of ideas and experiences. Goals of active learning include: the creation of individuals who recognise when learning is required; who know how to learn and who can apply learning to life.

Advocacy describes a process whereby information and data about a topic or issue is used to ensure that it is represented in the right way to the right people. Information contained in MATURE products can be used by those with influence over local, regional, national and international policy makers to ensure that the place of later-life learning is not overlooked.

The art and science of helping adults learn. Andragogy acknowledges and builds on the independence of adults, their experience and their desire to exert control over what and how they learn.

The beliefs of older adults and the perceptions of others about age and ageing people. Positive and negative views of ageing, learning, education, status contribute to the formation of beliefs about oneself, one’s role, one’s rights, the responsibilities of others.

The major experiences encountered in a lifetime. Examples of chapters are:  schooling; career; parenthood.

Specific skills and abilities that underpin successful ageing and that enable the individual to maintain independence and active participation in life. Competences may be grouped into areas of activity (literacies) that play a specific part in promoting and sustaining well-being in later life.

The cumulative knowledge, experience, beliefs and values of a group of people. Older migrants, older members of minority ethnic communities, older members of faith groups may be among those who experience cultural barriers to participation in learning and in the wider communities in which they live.

The point at which an individual can no longer function effectively without consistent support from others. This support may come from family members, the state, private care organisations.

Within education, differentiation encompasses actions that a teacher may take to ensure that, in group learning, individual need and expectation is allowed to flourish. Differentiated approaches include: the provision of a range of resources, tasks and activities so that people may learn and progress in ways that are relevant to them; the management of time to ensure equitable support for group members; group management techniques that broaden the scope of learning (peer mentoring and support, for example).

MATURE focuses on 4 main areas of potential disadvantage: health; dependency; culture; attitude. We look for ways in which other people have worked to overcome barriers and enabled disadvantaged older adults to engage in group learning.

Actions taken to find older adults who do not themselves elect to join (learning) groups; the people and organisations who help to find these people; the ways in which connections are made between learning providers and older people who don’t join groups; the messages that work with these older adults.

Experiential learning
The exploitation of experience to initiate, create and deliver learning. Experiential learning is founded on the belief that adults accumulate a body of skills, knowledge and understanding through a lifetime of experiences, good and bad. This wisdom enables people to identify what they still need to learn and it provides resources that can be applied to new learning situations. Experiential learning acknowledges and draws on what adults can do in order to support them to do more.

A view of the teacher and of teaching that challenges the didactic model. Facilitation is the action of eliciting learning rather than imposing it. Within the principles of andragogy and experiential, active learning, the facilitator operates as a catalyst for the sharing of experience. In the provision of a variety of resources, tasks and activities and in the management of the group, a facilitator enables learners to achieve new skills and understanding from collective real-life experiences. Facilitation places the teacher on a par with learners. Control of learning passes from the group leader to the group. Professional expertise is targeted at shaping knowledge and skills within the group towards achieving new learning.

Physical and/or mental conditions that affect an individual’s ability to participate in learning and/or be active in other areas of daily life. They may be conditions that have been lifelong or that arise as a result of ageing.

Individuals, organisations or agencies who work with and on behalf of older adults in a paid or voluntary capacity. They may be services within the public sector (health, social services for example); within the private sector (care homes, for example); within the voluntary and community sector (charities; faith groups, for example). The remit of their work may or may not have any overt link to later life learning.

An invention of the project LARA ( that describes the relationships between learning and the ageing process. LARAgogy embraces received educational doctrine (andragogy, experiential learning, active learning e.g.) and applies its principles to the delivery of skills, knowledge and understanding for ageing.

MATURE’s focus is on learning that takes place in a group. It can be formal or non-formal; led by professionals or volunteers; it can be self-organised or externally organised; undertaken in an educational environment (adult education centre) or elsewhere (club; faith group; library; museum; at home).

Literacies for ageing
The broad areas of lifetime activity in which individuals need to become ‘literate’ in order to age well. Becoming literate involves the acquisition and application of competences through a learning process. Literacies for ageing and later life include: learning; health; technological; emotional; financial; civic and community.

Older people
Although MATURE does not favour chronological definitions of age, it does make use of the commonly accepted 55+ classification of ‘older learner’.

Stage posts
Single life events that have the potential to trigger a transition from one life chapter to another. These events may be chosen by the individual (marriage) or may be imposed (redundancy).

These are people who lead learning in groups. They may be professional teachers of adults; professional teachers from other educational sectors; volunteer teachers; individuals with a particular skill to share; professionals and volunteers in services that do not have education as their main activity (health organisations, for example); facilitators of clubs and other informal meeting groups.

The passage between one chapter of your life and another. Examples: from working life to retirement; from family member to single status.

Versions of the glossary in other languages can be seen by clicking on the links below:

french Glossary in French

austrian german  Glossary in German

greek Glossary in Greek

polish  Glossary in Polish

portuguese Glossary in Portuguese

slovenia Glossary in Slovene