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Generations learn from each other

Intergenerational Learning Project helps bridge generation gap

Created date

July 31st, 2009
MGC continuing education
MGC continuing education

Six residents from Maris Grove recently participated in the Intergenerational Learning Project with students from Garnet Valley Middle School. The project began when Bette Alburger interviewed kids from the school for Kid s Poll, a Sunday section of People Poll that runs in the Delaware County Daily/ Sunday Times. Questions focused on what it meant to be the President from a middle school kid s point of view, and the interview ran on Maris Grove s Channel 21 on Thru the Lens. From there, the project grew, and Alburger and Jo Overholt, one of the hosts of Thru the Lens, worked to reciprocate the students efforts. The two women, along with four retired educators Mary Ann Starkey, Don Henderson, and Liz and John Smith went to the school to be interviewed by the students. One eighth grader and two sixth graders asked questions that focused on the adults childhoods: What was it like when you were 13? What was your favorite book? When asked what they played with, Mrs. Alburger answered paper dolls, and the kids were shocked that such a non-digital thing ever existed. When asked about their first jobs, Mrs. Overholt answered the 5 & 10. Again, the kids wrinkled up their faces in confusion. After the 5 & 10 was compared to the Dollar Store, understanding (as well as laughter) was shared between the generations. It was a nice interplay between the seniors and the kids, Mrs. Alburger says. The experience was one of shared learning. We learned that our generation was a lot different than theirs, Mrs. Alburger says. All of the adults agreed that they lived in a much simpler, much more innocent time; the issues that face the current generation are much different than those faced by the seniors of today. The residents were pleasantly surprised by how sophisticated the children were. The students got to learn about a world with no TV and no computers, a world where a kid could jump on his bike, be gone all day, and not come home until dinner, a world where mothers stayed at home. We had a nice intergenerational connection, Mrs. Alburger says, one in which both ends of the age spectrum learned a great deal from each other. The principal of Garnet Valley Middle wants to continue the project this fall.