Howard McClusky and educational gerontology

picture: howard mccluskey in his 40'sHoward McClusky and educational gerontology. The development of interest, knowledge, and professional involvement in educational gerontology has been evolutionary. Roger Hiemstra explores Howard McClusky’s advocacy of limitless human potential throughout life and, in particular, his ‘theory of margin’ – the need to balance in the later years those stresses and demands (load) on a person with his or her coping resources (power). McClusky’s work provided a range of insights to program developers and some hope for the future of educational gerontology.

contents: introduction · howard mcclusky-a man of many times! · adults as learners · toward mcclusky’s theory of margin · additional contributions · conclusion · further reading and references · how to cite this article

The recent addition of educational emphases to a social and political involvement with elderly-related problems, a steadily increasing “over-65” age cohort with corresponding heightening consciousness, and a fairly rapid entry of higher education during the seventies into serving adult learners have helped to spawn a newly recognized discipline, educational gerontology. Like many evolutionary movements the field of educational gerontology, even given the recent attention, has been under development for many years. Peterson (1978) suggests that many antecedents can be found in such widely separated interests as industrial gerontology, psychogerontology , and social gerontology. However, it has taken a growing number of voices lamenting society’s under-utilization of older people as lifelong resources to swing attention toward education’s potential:

In particular, people whose major professional commitment is channeled through institutions of education have begun to recognize that the values of study, learning, and intellectual growth are not restricted exclusively to the young but have relevance to persons of every age. This awareness appears to be most pronounced at the fringes of educational development, e.g., in the areas of adult, continuing, and community education. (Peterson, 1978, p. 4)

No one person who has been involved with the development of educational gerontology both during the many years of evolutionary change and the recent decade of activity better bridges all three areas of adult, continuing, and community education than Howard Yale McClusky, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. In addition to these three areas McClusky brings to educational gerontology knowledge, expertise, and experience in such disciplines as psychology, mental health, public health, youth education, community development, and educational psychology.

Retired one day in 1968 after 45 years of teaching, scholarly productivity, and service at the University of Michigan, Howard McClsuky abandoned retirement the next day and maintains a torrid pace of public speaking, part-time teaching, serving in visiting professorships, and writing. Much of that energy has been devoted to work in the educational gerontology area through teaching, administration, and advising graduate students. Today, at age 81, Howard seems to be gathering new energies as he demonstrates his limitless potential through new writing projects, a constantly filling calendar, and numerous plans for the future.

Howard McClusky and others through published materials have captured his major contributions to educational gerontology. Those discussed in this article focus on:

  1. synthesizing from psychology , educational psychology, and related areas knowledge about older adults as learners and appropriate teaching approaches;
  2. creating explanations for the responses of elderly to life’s stresses through his theory of margin; and
  3. several less developed or emerging areas of concern.

These three areas are inherently interrelated because of the internal consistency of Howard ‘s thinking, but are separated for purposes of extracting implications and important learnings. Suggestions for future practice will be added where appropriate.

Howard McClusky-A man of many times!

Born in New York in 1900, Howard McClusky has spent all his adult life in the middle part of the country except for periodic sabbaticals, visiting professorships, and a brief interruption from 1940-42 when he served as associate director of the Washington-based American Youth Commission. McClusky received a bachelor’s degree from Park College in Missouri in 1921 and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Chicago in 1929 where he was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow carrying out research in visual education, the forerunner of instructional media.

His professional education career began at the University of Michigan in 1924. He was an instructor in educational psychology from then until 1927, assistant professor from 1927 to 1934, associate professor from 1934 to 1939, and was appointed full professor in 1939. Howard McClusky served an administrative stint from 1934 to 1939 as assistant to the vice president in charge of university relations. In 1948 he established and chaired the university’s graduate department of community adult education. In 1973-74 he served as chair of the university’s program in educational gerontology.

Howard’s awards, special services, and pioneering firsts have been many. The following are only a few:

1938-Headed Kellogg Foundation project assisting rural communities (helped to establish the university extension service)

1940-Appointed associate director of the American Youth Commission

1942-Appointed chief of the National Organizations Section of the Office of Civilian Defense’s Civilian Mobilization Branch and consultant to the Office of War Information

1950-Awarded the Michigan Educators Club Trophy for Conspicuous Service

1951-Elected first president of the newly formed Adult Education Association of the U. S.A.

1956-Recipient of the Delbert Clark Award in Adult Education

1957-Helped establish Commission of Professors of Adult Education

1958-Recipient of University of Michigan Faculty’s Distinguished Achievement Award

1964-Appointed Senior Consultant in adult education by the United States Office of Education

1969-Recipient of a special award of recognition by the State of Michigan ‘s legislature for service to the state

1975-Recipient of Adult Education Association of the U.S.A.’s Pioneer Award

Howard McClusky’s professional life and interests have been extremely varied. Although there are obviously overlaps from one time period to another because professional strengths and interests continue throughout life, Table 1 demonstrates how his content interests and primary clients have gradually shifted during this career. Between 1924 and 1979 some 70 journal articles, 31 monographs, book chapters, or books, and 57 pieces in bulletins, newsletters, or conference proceedings were published under Howard’s authorship. In addition, evidence of 431 speeches delivered by Howard at banquets, workshops, and meetings during this period was found.1 These writings and speeches were analyzed to assist in the table’s development.

One interesting conclusion after examining his interests and activities is that Howard has been a man of his own time by changing his primary clients to progressively older people as he himself aged. He spent much of his first 15 years at the University of Michigan helping to train teachers to work with children. During the middle to late 1930s Howard became concerned with educational needs of older youth, especially rural youth. Sometime in the early 1940s he began to develop his interest and expertise in adult education. He continued solidifying this emphasis area, making many valuable contributions to the field of adult education until around the time of his “official” retirement from the University of Michigan.

Table 1: Eras in Howard McClusky’s Professional Life
Time period Professional goals Content interests Primary clients
1924-1934+ Establishing professional self and identity Visual education, youth education and adolescent psychology Teachers in training
1929-1939+ Developing professional legitimacy Mental health, mental hygiene, and general education Parents and teachers
1935-1947+ Building professional solidarity Educational needs of older youth, rural youth, and young adults Those working with older and rural youth. (a)
1939-1957+ Establishing self in adult education and community development fields Educational psychology as it related to adults Adult educators and those interested in working with adults
1958-1978+ Statesman role in adult and community education Applying psychology to adult education, adult learning, and community education Professionals, teachers, and learners in adult education
1970-present Contributing to educational gerontology Educational gerontology, older adult learning needs, and general adult education Older adults, adult educators, educational gerontologists

(a) Served as associate director of American Youth Commission 1940-1942 and worked with it in an advisory capacity several additional years.

McClusky began making his main contributions to educational gerontology when he was asked to co-chair the Section on Aging for the 1971 White House Conference on Aging. The educational background paper that Howard authored (1971c) and the conference proceedings that he helped with have become cornerstones for much of the subsequent thinking about the educational potential of the aged:

When we turn to education we find a more optimistic domain. In fact, education is itself essentially an affirmative enterprise. For instance, education for older persons is based on the assumption that it will lead to something better in the lives of those participating. It also proceeds on the collateral assumption that older persons are capable of a constructive response to educational stimulation. (McClusky, 1973b, p. 2)

Whether by circumstance or by design, Howard McClusky has emulated with constant optimism this belief in the limitless potential of humans during their lifetime through his efforts in developing the educational gerontology field. The purpose of the following sections is to summarize these many contributions.

Adults as learners

Howard’s faith in limitless human potential is seen in his thinking about adults as learners and his challenge that learners still can do more:

One can teach an old dog new tricks! He [sic.] may not want to learn new tricks or he may think that his old tricks are good enough, but an “old dog” can no longer hide behind an assumed lack of ability to learn as an excuse for not learning. In fact, because of his age there are probably some tricks that an old dog can learn better than a younger. (1971b, p. 416)

Many of his writings have been devoted to helping others gain a broad understanding of the conditions leading people to constantly learn new tricks. He also has used his broad background and training in psychology, his endless appetite for reading, and his penchant for keeping up with all aspects of research on humans to educate about adults as learners. In 1959 he and a colleague summarized much of the existing theory and research related to the psychology of adults (McClusky and Jensen, 1959). Four years later Howard described the various developmental stages in adulthood (McClusky, 1963a). Many of his additional writings and speeches have described such features as the human condition, the need to consider the human organism’s personality as an important part of the stimulus-response model, and the history of adult learning theory; perhaps the most comprehensive of these is a chapter that describes the relevance of psychological knowledge for adult education (McClusky, 1964). A recent article builds a literary bridge describing the knowledge growth in adult learning from the Thorndike era through the extensive research of the 1970s (McClusky, 1978a).

One of the results of McClusky’s synthesizing activities related to research on adult psychology and learning has been his long and active call for an instructional body of knowledge specific to the adult condition:

Data from various sources are providing a growing case for a differential psychology of adults. Already it is clear that the pattern of abilities increases in difference from adolescence through early adulthood and on into the middle and late years. Moreover, we cannot assume equivalence of stimulation and motivation in these successive stages of change. . . more research is greatly needed, but it must be conducted with concepts and instruments that are most relevant to the unique features of the adult condition. For example, more work needs to be done on an appropriate criterion of adult intelligence, on “age fair” tests, an on devices that get beneath the surface of the adult personality. (McClusky, 1965, p. 197)

He has translated his call for specific knowledge and more research into educational terms which constitute an occupational basis for the professional existence of many of us:

Our thesis then is simply that education becomes the generic term for the teaching-learning process which in all its variety and manifold settings constitutes the major instrument which our society has devised for reducing the number and damage of dysfunctional responses and for increasing our capability in coping creatively with change. (McClusky, 1971a, p. 217)

Howard ‘s transition to considerable concern about the older adult, therefore, has not been difficult:

I have come into the field of gerontology from the domain of adult education. The gerontological movement is geared pretty much to the protection of older people and the production of a floor of support, so that older people can live in dignity and self-respect and as independent as possible. This is as it should be. But the educational approach is a little different. As educators, we assume that the client is capable of improvement. (McClusky, 1976b, p. 118)

Thus, because of its faith in the learning ability of Older Persons and because of its confidence in the improvement that results from learning, education in contrast with other areas in the field of Aging can be invested with a climate of optimism which is highly attractive to those who may be involved in its operation. (McClusky, 1973a, p. 60)

This positive assumption by educators that their clients are capable of improvement, learning, and change throughout life has facilitated the evolvement of teaching and learning strategies specifically for the older adult. Howard perhaps says it best of all those who talk about such strategies:

So, what I am saying is that if we approach the field of gerontology from an educational standpoint, we constantly see evidence of the fact that older people are learning and can renew their faith in their ability to learn. As a consequence, we must find ways to help people rediscover, reinvigorate and reactivate their latent interests and talents they never thought they had. (McClusky, 1976b, p. 119)

We can see evidence that educational gerontology professionals are finding means of helping older persons enhance their learning abilities. Programs like Elderhostel, the increasing numbers of older students in college and adult education programs, and the growing successes by older people in learning endeavors are some of the examples to which one can point. Perhaps the next step will be the identification through research of teaching strategies and approaches that will maximize such successes. Howard gives us some clues as to what is needed:

Generally speaking . . . good strategy is to create an environment that is supportive, and to learn techniques that can reinforce learning. For example, we should be very clear as to what we expect them to learn. We should give them techniques of imagination, combining both auditory and visual imagery. Self-pacing is another important procedure. We should allow the older person to pace himself [sic.] and learn in his own way and in his own time, without too much pressure. (McClusky, 1976b, p. 121)

Much of the recent research described in Educational Gerontology has examined many of these suggestions but additional research and development is still required if Howard’s belief in the profession’s ability to facilitate human potential development is to be fully realized.

Howard McClusky’s theory of margin

“Howard Y. McClusky is perhaps best known within the theoretical context of adult education for his power-load-margin. . . formula.” (Main, 1979, p. 19) Certainly Howard himself has described his theory in many publications (1963a, 1967, 1970a, 1970b, 1971c, n.d.), and his colleagues such as Main (1979) and Baum (1978) have added considerable insight into the theory’s usefulness. The purpose of this section is to describe the theory, talk about its applications to the field of educational gerontology , and suggest some implications for future development of the theory.

The theory of margin is defined as follows:

Margin is a function of the relationship of load to power. By load we mean the self and social demands required by a person to maintain a minimal level of autonomy. By power we mean the resources, i.e., abilities, possessions, position, allies, etc., which a person can command in coping with load. (McClusky, 1970b, p. 27)

The theory also has been visualized as a formula, with load in the numerator and power in the denominator (Baum, 1978; McClusky, 1963a, Main,1979):

Margin = Load/Power [Load divided by Power]

Surplus power provides a margin of cushion to handle load requirements. Margin can be increased by reducing load or increasing power. Howard suggests, subsequently, that if values could be assigned to load and power indicators, a resulting equation score of say .50 to .80 would provide enough margin to meet the various emergencies of life (1963a).

Although empirical work necessary to refine the definitions and provide value indicators for data collection purposes has not been completed, Baum (1978) and Main (1979) have worked with Howard to develop initial variable definitions:

Load consists of “self” and society demands—(a) external-tasks of living (family, occupational, social, etc.) and (b) internal-personal life expectancies (goals, values, attitudes, etc.)

Power consists of the resources accumulated by a person—(a) external—accessible resources and capacity (health, wealth, social abilities, etc.) and (b) internal-acquired skills and experiences (resiliency, coping skills, personality, etc.)

Operational definitions are still required but, as Howard McClusky notes, “The value of the Load-Power ratio consists in its usefulness in describing the amount of Margin involved in adult adjustment.” (1963a)

This value can be seen directly when applying the theory to learning activities in the later years during which radical changes in the load-power ratio may take place because of fixed incomes, death of spouse, etc.:

In the light of our theory therefore, a necessary condition for learning is access to and/or the activation of a Margin of Power that may be available for application to the processes which the learning situation requires. (1970a, p. 146)

The crucial element is giving a person coping skills in maintaining a surplus of power:

For example, if the aging person could replace the load required by the achievement of upward mobility or by the maintenance of social status, with the load or tasks of community services, or the preservation of things (natural or manmade) of beauty, and if by a program of study and training the older person could increase his [sic.] ability to engage in such activities, his resulting margin could conceivably be more productive, satisfying, and growth-inducing than anything done earlier in life. . . [thus] education can be, if properly conceived and implemented, a major force in the achievement of this outcome. (McClusky, n.d., p. 330)

Numerous implications exist for educational gerontologists from the theory of margin construct. Main (1979) has conceptualized a teaching and learning model based on power and load ideas. As another example, Figure 1 provides some refinement suggestions by the author for measuring, evaluating, and planning programmatic responses to load and power imbalances. It is hoped that future researchers and theoreticians will develop additional refinements to the margin theory. In characteristically optimistic fashion, Howard provides the motivation for carrying out such refinements. He suggests that ages 0-25 are when margin is developed; ages 25-45 are when margin is expanded; beyond 45 is when what he calls the transvaluation of margin is possible: “This writer [McClusky] holds that by realigning and transvaluing the relationship of Load to Power, the later years may in fact be a period of progressive growth.” (1970 p. 150). Research completed by many scholars in the past decade has, in fact, demonstrated that mental growth is possible and takes place during the later years. A better understanding of load and power relationships may facilitate our future attempts to develop growth promoting programs.

illustration: framework for planning educational programmes

Figure 1. Suggested framework for planning educational programs based on load and power balances.

Additional contributions

An attempt to capture all of the additional contributions made by Howard McClusky is not possible in one short article. However, there are three other areas in which Howard has been interested that have high research potential to those interested in educational gerontology.

Time Perception. Howard has been interested for several years in the perceptions of time by adults and what relevance such perceptions have on a person’s psychological makeup:

The psychology of adults is distinguished from the psychology of earlier years in the experience of time. The major events of life can be expected to occur in the plus or minus five decades of adult life. To be aware that one is behind on, or ahead of schedule of life expectations can have a profound effect on life adjustment. (McClusky, 1963a, p. 18)

Such perceptions may have a profound effect on a person ‘s receptivity to learning opportunities. “It makes a great deal of difference in one’s orientation whether the future lies ahead as it does at 20, is here today as it may appear at 40, or is past in memory or ahead in one’s children as it is often viewed at 70.” (McClusky, 1964, p. 160)

A related feature of this perception of time is the common experience that time appears to pass more rapidly each year of our life. There may be a partial explanation in what Howard has referred to as the “arithmetic of time”:

At 16, one year is one 16th of the time a person has lived, at 40 one year is a 40th and at 70 a 70th of the time lived. Thus with advancing years, a unit of time, e.g., one year, becomes a decreasing fraction of the time experienced and is so perceived. This fact added to the decrease in perception of life expectancy undoubtedly has a profound and pervasive impact on the attitudes of adults as the years unfold—an impact which in turn also affects an adult’s perception of his [sic.] potential as a learner. (McClusky, 1971b, p.423)

Similarly, the demands of time on an adult can be very great. One pull often competes with another pressure or commitment, frequently putting active learning endeavors at a disadvantage:

Hence, when learning takes over, some other activity must give way. Often the margin of preference is so narrow that much of the time he [the adult] allocates for learning is in fact devoted to a preoccupation with the attractions or obligations of the activity he [sic.] was compelled to set aside. (1971b, p.427)

Considerable study may be required to know just how accurate is Howard ‘s supposition and what import it may have in the later years. However, certainly the problem of time allocation must remain of concern to all adult learners and their teachers:

This subject [time perception] deserves far more investigation than it has heretofore received. But in spite of the lack of data, the educator will find that the adult’s attitude toward time is one of the most pervasive factors with which he [sic.] must deal. It is the hidden item in many decisions to learn or not to learn, as well as what to learn when the decision to study is made. (McClusky, 1964, p. 162)

Categories of Need. Howard McClusky’s work in preparation for the 1971 White House Conference on Aging apparently was a time for him of considerable reflection, synthesizing from his earlier publications, and fresh ideas. A significant contribution was his thinking through some implications of this theory of margin in terms of various age-related needs. He introduced for scholars and planners to consider five distinct need categories including corresponding relationships to the theory of margin concepts:

  • Coping needs—minimal literacy and self-sufficiency levels; if they are not met a surplus of power to meet higher needs is absent.
  • Expressive needs—activity carried out for its own sake; time is usually required by each person for some expressive activity.
  • Contributive needs—altruistic desire to serve others; surplus margin is utilized outside of “self” or coping requirements.
  • Influence needs—desire for political skill and wisdom; surplus energy and resources may go to improving related skills.
  • Transcendence need—rising above age-related limitations; learning to balance power and load. (1971c)

He subsequently describes need categories in other sources too (1971d, n.d.).

The five-part framework has since been utilized by several people in their research and program design efforts. Graney and Hays (1976), for example, suggest that the needs formed a useful hierarchy. They note that this deductive contribution by Howard McClusky provides “professionals with knowledge about the functional needs of older persons to enable them to [better] guide educational practice.” (1976, p. 344)

Community of Generations. A promising recent notion of Howard ‘s is his call for interaction between the generations in promoting education through the later years. He cautions that his suggestions still are in a very embryonic state:

Because of the incomplete and provisional state of our knowledge, this. . . is necessarily exploratory in character and makes no pretense of constituting a definitive statement of the field. It is offered. . . primarily as a means of opening up a new domain of practice and inquiry. . . (1978b, pp.50-51)

The concept of the community of generations is an intentional variation on a life-span approach to comprehending the wholeness of life. It is based on the assumption that, although separated by time and experience, each generation nevertheless has a common stake with other generations in relating the wholeness of the life-span of which it is a part. (McClusky, 1978b, p.50)

Differences will naturally exist between generations because of varying values, beliefs, and experiences, but such differences only accent the need people have of learning from one another.

Howard also suggests that such differences have potential for the teaching and learning process because a wider variety of instructional strategies can be employed, strategies that make use of the rich experiences and specific needs some learners bring to the classroom setting. He offers a projection that all of higher education will be affected:

It is quite possible that because adults are returning to instruction in increasing numbers the student body traditionally composed of a ghetto of middle and upper middle class students will be supplanted by a student body composed of persons ranging in age from early to late adulthood and thus pave the way for an intergenerational approach to instruction that could ultimately transform higher education as we now know it. (McClusky, 1978a, p. 13)

In essence, Howard McClusky is challenging future scholars to examine inter- generational approaches to instruction so that improvements in the total instructional process can be made.


Howard McClusky has demonstrated throughout his adult life exactly what he believes: that each person has an endless potential, vitality, and resiliency. His concern for knowing more about how to maximize that potential has influenced most of his professional activities:

The task of society is to produce a generation of Persons in the Later Years who are ‘models of lifelong fulfillment for the emulation and guidance of oncoming generations’ and that life at its best in the Later Years should be a guide for education at all earlier years of life leading thereto. (1976a, p. 11)

He is such a model and continues to provide guidance in the development of many educational efforts.

McClusky’s contributions to educational gerontology via early work in adult education have all helped to foster a rapidly growing discipline. Obviously, the ultimate value of his work will be its usefulness in spawning research, thinking, and writing by others. His challenge to colleagues to do so is inherent in almost everything he has written.

There is perhaps one more side of Howard that when described will best provide an ending mechanism for this discussion. He is a “futurist” by nature. He has shown this both by his perpetual optimism and through his professional activities. He has long had an uncanny ability to foresee needs and happenings and to inspire others into enthusiastic activities toward the future. For example, he foresaw the need for adult educators to become involved in community development activities long before the community education and community college movements started their rapid expansion efforts (1939, 1944). He described the need for education to be “preparation for life several years before career education, self-directed study, and lifelong learning came into vogue (1936, 1974). Several years before years before the growth spurt of adult education began in the United States Howard described how adults learn (3) and suggested that a big potential for future adult education efforts existed (1948). He was involved with education efforts for the aging well before his 1971 White House experience. (4) (5) As one more example, Howard and I taught in a team in 1969 at the University of Michigan what may have been the first graduate course on the future of adult education.

Howard used his prognostication skills several years ago to suggest that we are becoming a learning society:

In brief we are saying that we are well on the road to developing a culture where learning in some form must become increasingly a way of life for the vast majority of all ages of the population. To a degree unknown in any other time in history, schooling for youth will become a relatively smaller part of a larger, more inclusive societal effort. As emphasis on the importance of education inevitably increases, adults will step up their demands for continuing education for themselves, as well as that kind of education for their children which they will more and more recognize as necessary for the viability of their future. (1963b, p. 118)

However, the final realization of such changes will necessitate some rather large and perhaps difficult modifications in education as we now know it:

To be more explicit, it is my position that the emphasis on lifelong learning, i.e., the kind of learning that will continue to the end of life, will require a drastic reconceptualization of the lifelong developmental stages of human existence in a way that is not currently being envisaged. (1976a, p.11)

The required change in the educative processes will affect both adult education and educational gerontology:

To summarize, by the year 2000 the fields of both Adult Education and Gerontology will be experiencing a stage of dynamic development. Adult Education will have moved from the margin to the center of educational practice and the Elderly, with a growing number of influential spokesmen [sic.] and reinforced by the pressures of a growing societal concern, will be in a better position to claim their share of educational resources. The climate will have become extremely favorable for the development of a wide range of programs in a diverse assortment of agencies. (McClusky, 1978c, p. 172)

Our challenge is to facilitate excellence as these many diverse developments unfold. Educational gerontology is still new enough that we may not yet know exactly what “excellence” is. However, Howard McClusky has shown us by example and by deed how to move toward such a goal.

Further reading and references

Baum, J. An exploration of widowhood: Implications for adult educators. Paper presented at the Adult Education Research Conference, San Antonio, Texas, April 5-7, 1978. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 157989).

Graney, M. J. & Hays, W. C. Senior students: Higher education after age 62. Educational Gerontology, 1976, 1, 343-360.

McClusky, H. Y. The community seminar for adult education. The School Review, 1939, 47, 331-334.

McClusky, H. Y. The community approach to adult education. University of Michigan School of Education Bulletin, 1944,15(6),84-87.

McClusky, H. Y. The education of young adults. In M. L. Ely (Ed.), Handbook of adult education in the United States. New York: Institute of Adult Education and American Association for Adult Education, 1948.

McClusky, H. Y. Course of the adult life span. In W. C. Hallenbeck (Ed.), Psychology of adults. Chicago: Adult Education Association of U.S.A., 1963. (a)

McClusky, H. Y. The demand for continual learning in modern society. University of Michigan School of Education Bulletin, 1963, 34(8), 113-118. (b)

McClusky, H. Y. The relevancy of psychology for adult education. In G. Jensen, A. A. Liveright, & W. Hallenback (Eds.), Adult education: Outlines of an emerging field of university study. Washington, D.C.: Adult Education Association of the U.S.A., 1964.

McClusky, H. Y. Psychology and learning. Review of Educational Research, 1965, 35,191-200.

McClusky, H. Adventure and the emerging roles of the adult education leader. The N.U.E.A. Spectator, 1967, 32(5), 14-17, 27.

McClusky, H. Y. An approach to a differential psychology of the adult potential. In S. M. Grabowski (Ed.), Adult learning and instruction. Syracuse, N.Y.: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Education, 1970. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 045 867). (a)

McClusky, H. Y. A dynamic approach to participation in community development. Journal of Community Development Society, 1970, 1, 25-32. (b)

McClusky, H. The AEA-USA: Why and what it must be. Adult Leadership, 1971, 20, 126-128, 152-154. (a)

McClusky, H. Y. The adult as learner. In S. E. Seashore & R. J. McNeill (Eds.), Management of the urban crises. New York: The Free Press, 1971. (b)

McClusky, H. Y. Education: Background paper for 1971 White House conference on aging. Washington, D.C.: White House Conference on Aging, 1971. (c)

McClusky, H. Y. Education for the aging. Florida Adult Education, 1971, 21 (Spring), 6-7. (d)

McClusky, H. Y. Education and aging. In A. Hendrickson (Ed.), A manual on planning educational programs for older adults. Tallahassee, Fla.: Department of Adult Education, Florida State University, 1973. (a)

McClusky, H. Y. Co-chairman’s statement (section on education). In Toward a national policy on aging (Final report, Vol. II, 1971 White House Conference on Aging). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973. (b)

McClusky, H. Y. The coming of age of lifelong learning. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 1974, 7(4), 97-107.

McClusky , H. Y. Adult dimensions of lifelong learning: Reflections on the future of the educational enterprise. Innovator (School of Education Newsletter, University of Michigan), 1976, 8(2), 11-12. (a)

McClusky, H. What research says about adult learning potential and teaching older adults. In R. M. Smith (Ed.), Adult learning: Issues and innovations. DeKalb, Il.: ERIC Clearinghouse in Career Education, Department of Secondary and Adult Education, Northern Illinois University,1976. (b)

McClusky, H. Y. The adult as lifelong learner: Some implications for instruction in higher education. Educare Journal, 1978, 5(Spring), 8-13. (a)

McClusky, H. Y. The community of generations: A goal and a context for the education of persons in the later years. In R. H. Sherron & D. B. Lumsden, Introduction to educational gerontology. Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1978. (b)

McClusky, H. Y. Designs for learning. In L. F. Jarvik (Ed.), Aging into the 21st century. New York: Gardner Press, 1978. (c)

McClusky, H. Y. Education for aging: The scope of the field and perspectives for the future. In S. M. Grabowski & W. D. Mason, Learning for aging. Washington, D.C.: Adult Education Association of the U.S.A. & ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Education, n.d. (ca. 1974).

McClusky, H. Y., & Jensen, G. E. The psychology of adults. Review of Educational Research, 1959, 29,246-255.

Main, K. The power-load-margin formula of Howard Y. McClusky as the basis for a model of teaching. Adult Education, 1979, 30, 19-33.

Peterson, D. A. Toward a definition of educational gerontology. In. R. H. Sherron & D. B. Lumsden, (Eds.), Introduction to educational gerontology. Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1978.

Schorling, R., & McClusky, H. Y. Education and social trends. Chicago: World Book Company, 1936.


1. An extensive search in two universities, three interviews and considerable correspondence with Howard, and hundreds of hours of detective work by the author uncovered the described works. However, some publications and speeches, no doubt, were still overlooked. A bibliography is available on-line.

2. Main (1979) places “power” in the numerator, apparently as a means of illustrating that surplus margin is more easily understood when the value is greater than one.

3. Howard Y. McClusky, “Can adults learn?” A Rackham Graduate School lecture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1939.

4. Howard Y. McClusky, “Adult Education and Aging.” A panel presentation, American Educational Research Association meeting, Atlantic City, N.J., 1950.

5. Howard served as a reviewer of the recommendations made at the White House Conference on Aging, Washington, D.C., 1961.

First published as ‘The contributions of Howard Yale McClusky to an evolving discipline of educational gerontology’ in Educational Gerontology: An International Quarterly, 6:209-226,1981 209 Copyright @ 1981 by Hemisphere Publishing Corporation 0360.1277/81/020209-18$2.25. Reprinted on this Web page by permission

To cite this article: Hiemstra, R. (1981, 2002) ‘Howard McClusky and educational gerontology’ The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. [ Retrieved: insert date] .

© Roger Hiemtra/Hemisphere Publishing Corporation 2002, 1981