Plasticity Theory

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Demographically, society today could be considered a watershed moment in history. With the largest recorded increase in human longevity, the population’s median age has risen so much that Americans over the age of 65 will soon grow to 20 percent of the population - society may be well on its way to being called a “geriatric” society (Prager, 2002). The effects of this shift are far-ranging: from culture to medicine to education, virtually no area in society today is left untouched by this move toward an older population. Lifelong learning now has become a household term, thus creating a sense of urgency for a response from educators and schools, as well as researchers prying into the age-old question of whether or not adults lose intellectual …show more content…
These ideas can address whether or not older adults with their vast experience can change and therefore mold their intellectual development, in order to maintain or improve intelligence as they age. Plasticity suggests that adults can improve in everyday life cognitive tasks and formal tests; they are able to self-direct both in training in intelligence tests and formal training, therefore putting actual practice to the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” The compensation process suggests that adults are able to compensate for their natural declines by having the cognition to recognize areas in which they are deficient. They are then able to learn new methods for performing a task, adjust goals for the particular tasks, and change the time and effort they put into a task (Merriam, et al, 2007). Some of this adaptability stems from adult’s life experiences, often transcending traditional intelligence, which in turn attests to the validity of the concepts of alternative forms of …show more content…
Emerging in the early 1980s, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is perhaps the most popular, although the least empirically proven. His theory identifies eight “intelligences”: linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalist. Gardner (2011) asserts two simple facts: human beings possess all of his intelligences and everyone has different patterns of intelligence. For adult education, his theory makes sense: as adults age, they became more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and most likely subconsciously utilize Gardner’s theory in their learning, both formal and informal. Sternberg’s Practical Intelligence theory includes, among other things, problem solving skills and tacit knowledge, knowledge that reflects a learner’s ability to learn from experience and apply knowledge toward his or her personal goals (Merriam et al, 2007). Unlike Gardner’s relatively unfounded theory, the work of Sternberg has decades of research history behind it, and the “experience factor” can resonate deeply with adults seeking intellectual validation for a lifetime of living. Last, emotional intelligence emerges as an alternate form of intelligence: the concept of understanding and managing one’s emotions, as well as recognizing emotions in others, is a skill usually acquired with age and experience. For the aging

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