Intergenerational Learning (IL) describes the way that people of all ages can learn together and from each other. IL is an important part of Lifelong Learning, where the generations work together to gain skills, values and knowledge. Beyond the transfer of knowledge, IL fosters reciprocal learning relationships between different generations and helps to develop social capital and social cohesion in our community. The aim of IP is to bring together people from different generations in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities, which promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contributes to building communities and neighbourhoods where people respect each other and are better connected. IL is inclusive, building on the positive resources that both the younger and older generations have to offer each other and those around them.
Many changes in society – such as increased geographic mobility – have led to generations frequently becoming distanced or segregated from one another, particularly younger and older people. This separation can lead to unrealistic, negative stereotypes between generations and a decrease in positive exchanges between them. Yet these separated generations have resources of value to each other and share areas of concern.
At our school relationships are important to the wellbeing of our students and it is extremely important to provide opportunities for many different interactions. Through our local council, we were able to begin building a relationship with volunteers from the University of the Third Age. (U3A) These volunteers come into our school each week and knit, play games, draw and make things with students.
The activities are challenging and new for many of the students but it is the support, the conversations and the sharing that is the value added. As the term has gone on the program has developed and evolved. We are hoping that the relationship with U3A that has begun will develop into a partnership that will emulate the purpose of intergenerational learning.