|[ Abstract for this presentation ] [ Proceedings Contents ] [ Program ] [ Abstracts ]
The pedagogic aspects of intergenerationalismDelphine P. Shaw
The University of Western Australia
The pedagogical praxis of 'intergenerational studies' has been extensively researched and documented by the administrative and medical teams of Il Melo Residential Aged Care at Gallarate-Varese, Italy. This was recorded for the European Union, by Dr Marco Predazzi of Italy, Dr Richard Vercauteren of France, and Dr Michel Loriaux of Belgium (2000). The second volume of their series Towards a Society for all Ages analyses the symbiotic benefits of the 'intergenerational studies' achieved in this University De Gallarete - Il Melo initiative.
The 'intergenerational project,' works in collaboration with Don Lorenzo government primary school Gallarate, and my research analysed and identified a number of the social, emotional, intellectual and communication benefits experienced by both the schoolchildren and the "social grandparents", most of whom were in fact chronologically more like great grandparent age of the children involved.
Research focusing on identified pupil groups (Schaper & Flores, 1985; Gardner, Feldman & Krechvsky, 1998) however, does indicate that different pupils perform more confidently with specific modalities.
There is an unresolved issue defining the importance of the perceptual modalities of the learner, to their learning, which concerns explicating the link between the individual pupil's ways of processing data and their inherent ability to engage with the teacher's 'perceptual modality choice' for the lesson.
An intergenerational educative program implemented by medical gerontology researchers of Il Melo Aged Care Residence and local teachers of Don Lorenzo Primary School in Gallarate Italy, produced very rewarding and interesting outcomes. The relationship was identified to be mutually beneficial because seniors assist the students to research, evaluate and record topics of learning and this interaction enriches the seniors experience and awakens intellectual faculties which are often repressed by institutional living. This long term research has been extensively documented in the writings of Predazzi, Vercauteren and Loriaux (2000).
This paper now explores the context of pupil engagement in a variety of learning situations, reports in detail the findings of the study on intergenerational studies in a University De Melo-Italy initiative and concludes with recommendations for both education and aged care providers.
Engagement versus disaffection in school refers to the intensity and emotional quality of children's involvement in initiating and carrying out learning activities ... Children who are engaged show sustained behavioural involvement in learning activities accompanied by a positive emotional tone. They select tasks at the border of their competencies, initiate action when given the opportunity, and exert intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning tasks; they show generally positive emotions during ongoing action, including enthusiasm, optimism, curiosity, and interest. The opposite of engagement is disaffection. Disaffected children are passive, do not try hard, and give up easily in the face of challenges ... [they can] be bored, depressed, anxious, or even angry about their presence in the classroom; they can be withdrawn from learning opportunities or even rebellious towards teachers and classmates (p. 572).In Australia, a major research projects has been established to explore problems associated with school disengagement. Melbourne University established the Middle Years Research and Development (MYRAD, 2002) project in 1999 to explore patterns of under-achievement and disengagement for pupils in the middle years. Preliminary conclusions from this project suggest that many schools in Australia fail to provide contexts that encourage pupils "to connect with school, to engage with learning, and to become independent and thoughtful learners" (MYRAD, 2002). These reports also emphasised the need to integrate thinking and learning skills across core areas in efforts to increase pupils' learning engagement.
In Western Australia, many educators have sought to identify ways in which pupil engagement and learning can be enhanced. Programs developed to address this goal have included Emotional Literacy (McLean, 2001), Cooperative Learning (Bennett, 1999; Bennett, Rolheisser & Stevahn, 1991), and Brain Friendly Learning (Plumb, 2002 #52). Indeed, one of the explicit goals of implementing the First Steps programs developed in Western Australia was to increase learning engagement levels in the primary grades. All of these programs represent efforts to support and enhance children's engagement with their learning. None, however, have been reported to increase engagement levels across all subject areas.
Markova et al. (1996) suggest that there are six primary thinking patterns exhibited by pupils, reflecting the relative reliance on, and priority given to, the auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic channels. The importance of these modalities was originally highlighted by Bruner, Olver and Greenfield (1966) when they discussed the 'primitive properties' of the haptic space [kinaesthetic] auditory and visual senses to represent knowledge as imagery of experience and action. These, they asserted, must correspond with what we do [kinaesthetic] what we see [visual] and what we say [auditory]. Bruner et al. further stated that: "School forces [the child] to rely on linguistic encoding as a way of communicating because by its remoteness from direct action, it robs him of contextual and ostensive reference as a mode of carrying meaning (p. 323)."
Stated alternatively, children typically cannot resort to pointing or doing to convey meaning in formal schooling contexts, and thus must learn to use language as an implement of thought and learning. Markova et al. has suggested that if a child's thinking pattern does not correlate with modalities deployed in the learning context, the child will experience difficulties in engaging with learning activities. Disaffected behaviour such as frustration, embarrassment, avoidance, lowered self concept and apparent disengagement from the learning process can result. Hunt et.al. (1992 ) described this state as a manifestation of a loss of ganus. This behaviour is characterised by low levels of intrinsic motivation, self esteem and dignity, curiosity to learn, and joy in learning:
Ganus, a word that comes from a Latin root... covers a myriad of emotions from willingness to fervour, from enthusiasm to zeal. To have the ganus is to have the spirit, the desire, the will, the fire, the craving, the hunger, the yearning, and the aspiration all rolled up in one. Ganus is the fuel for learning. Ganus propels the child forward in his/her discovery process for it ignites and sustains the interest in his/her world (Hunt, 1992) pp. 55-56).In educational circles, theory of learning styles is frequently based on the concept that the human individual uses three primary perceptual pathways to learning: visual [sight], kinaesthetic [body, sensation, motion], and auditory [sound]; and also is influenced by three states of consciousness: conscious, subconscious and unconscious. Markova (1996) has commented on the inability of traditional classroom practice to accommodate diverse thinking patterns, or sensory perceptual modality preferences of the pupils. The resultant inability of the pupil to successfully engage with the learning process has been identified as lack of application or will to engage, by many educators over the years. Perhaps the fault does not lie with the pupil's effort or attitude, but rather with the methodology deployed to engage the pupil.
The great gap in age between these two generations at the start and end of life and the gaining of a "familiarity" not based on biological or family bonds make this acquired community both a special relationship opportunity and one rich in pedagogical potential for both generations involved. (Predazzi et al., 2000)p26.In October 2006, I then undertook to research the Gallarete University De Melo initiative at Il Melo Residential Aged Care at Gallarate-Varese, Italy. Here the 'intergenerational project,' works in collaboration with Don Lorenzo government primary school Gallarate. From interviews with the teachers concerned, I found that the deployment of praxis which was achieved enabled the gradual integration of many 'perceptual modalities' of the school pupils, during the intergenerational studies, [especially those modalities of interactive, aural/oral, and kinaesthetic/haptic]. This in turn enriched the children's lived-learned experiences and consolidated their comprehension of the content or experience of the study through meaningful rewarding engagement.
This arena sees the miracle of the breaking of the double circle of egocentricity of the relationship: the natural one of childhood, the result of an identity in search of itself, and that of old age, an ultimate defence of a threatened identity. (Predazzi et al, 2000, p28).
The recurrent observation of a surprising awakening of self critical ability in elderly people, engaged in sufficiently intense and lasting intergenerational relationships, is an emblematic symbol of the psychological "ease" and great development potential of this type of relationship - the meeting of generations acts as a major psychological catalyst for interaction - leads to a vital perception of the present. (Predazzi et.al., 2000, p28).
Emanating from the "reminiscence theory" of major European Intergenerational Agencies, Il Melo introduced the neologism "relivescence" (Predazzi et.al, 2000, p31) to indicate the re-awakening of both participation and social interaction faculties of the elderly who are engaging in intergenerational experiences. The re-emergence of the elderly person's ability to make individual and group plans while enjoying solidarity and group synergies, marks the regained "taking on" of the present. This restores personal dignity which produces important psychodynamic results.
I subsequently identified an interactional situation which I called "osmotic reciprocity". This was a process by which learning experiences, life values and life experiences are acquired by absorption, through a mutual action of give and take, especially in the interchange of privileges and confidences between distinct individuals.
Being a grandparent in this respect entails by the elderly person, willingness to devise new mental and relational patterns in order to stay on the same wavelength with young grandchildren and, more importantly from the geragogical viewpoint, through this experience relate once again to the minor and major positive potential of an age freed from production and reproduction duties, and hence more favourable for forms of cognitive and affective exploration of life. Observed at close hand, the grandparent experience is revealed as a factor which triggers mental flexibility and behavioural tolerance, at times totally unexpected, in elderly people apparently with rigid attitudes; ...The elderly person recognises in the child the continuity of life and is encouraged to restructure his or her experiences positively, so as to communicate in some way ... with a high giving and communication content. (Predazzi et al., 2000, p26)This positive, unfettered attitude of mental flexibility and behavioural tolerance in the seniors, receptive to affective cognitive exploration and creativity, vastly enriches the pupils' perceptions of learning; as it lacks the usually restraining imposed expectations of both parents and teachers.
The Il Melo researchers identified that the anticipation of the children's visit revitalised the residents' motivation, their awareness of "time" [past, present and future]; and their "relivescence" when sharing and telling stories to the children. Seen as a happy time, this experience caused the elderly to cultivate a positive outlook and communication.
The teachers identified that confident academic and social engagement of the children, was observed to be incremental and cumulative throughout of the intergenerational work. This shared learning experience helped the children explore and comprehend the depth and breadth of family lives, of lived changes, and also enabled them to develop a perspective and understanding of a both past and future.
The unfathomed values of the "osmotic reciprocity" that occurs when safe, non-judgemental self critical reflections and evaluations are involve, is palpable. This "self criticism' ability develops for both groups, because of the reciprocal acceptance and trust that is generated between the two participating age groups, in the intergenerational activities.
This free and aimless grandparent relationship, unrestrained by the reality principles constraining parents, is ideal for weaving fantastic play webs, unaffected by the disciplinary requirements of an educational process. It offers the children a pleasurable relationship similar to peer interaction.
That which has been termed "a love without Oedipus" (a. Fonzi 1988) involves creative synergies and the possibilities of encounter ... for imaginative play processes which are so congenial to children and those elderly people, still capable of being grandparents (Predazzi et al., 2000, p33)
The praxis of the Intergenerational Program of Il Melo - Gallarate, through the collaborative, interactive and personalised individual support given to each child; aims to optimise the pupil's learning potential through utilising diverse perceptual modalities, in such a way as to enable each pupil to enrich their learning, with improved integration of their own unique "thinking pattern" (Markova, 1996). This in turn, reduces the anxiety the pupil experiences when trying to adapt to the restricted modality usage usually experiences in traditional classroom praxis. The pupil's creativity and curiosity are emancipated, recognised and supported by their senior mentor, and recording of their findings is undertaken in a broad variety of styles.
Bennett, B., Rolheisser, C. & Stevahn, L. (1991). Cooperative learning: Where heart meets mind. Toronto, Ontario: Educational Connections.
Bruner, J. S., Olver, R. R. & Greenfield, P. M. (1966). Studies in cognitive growth: A collaboration at the Centre for Cognitive Studies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
D'Annunzio, A. (1975). A learning print approach towards perceptual training and reading in kindergarten. ERIC Digest, No. 298436.
Donovan, M. A. & Austin, M. C. (1978). Does modality preference make a difference? The result of a three-year study. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Reading Association, Houston, Texas.
Education, V. S. D. (1981). Modality education project overview. In Virginia School Department of Education (Ed.), (Vol. Division of Special Education). Richmond, Virginia, USA.
Gardner, H., Feldman, D. H. & Krechvsky, M. (1998). Building on children's strengths: The experience of Project Spectrum. New York: Col. Uni. Teachers College Press.
Hannaford, C. (1995). Smart moves: Why learning is not all in your head. Virginia: Great Ocean Publishers.
Hunt, D. T. (1992). Learning to learn: Maximizing your performance potential. Kaneohe, Hawaii: Elan Enterprises.
Jones, J. P. (1972). Intersensory transfer, perceptual shifting, model preference, and reading. ERIC Digest, No. 576.
Mann, L. (1975). Sensory modality preferences: Measurement of selected psychological "process" variables and their validity; implications for aptitude-treatment interaction research with learning disabled children. ERIC Digest, No.603.
Markova, D. (1996). The open mind: Exploring the 6 patterns of natural intelligence. Berkley, CA: Conari Press.
Mathewson, G. C. (1994). Model of attitude influence upon reading and learning to read. In R. B. Ruddell & H. Singer (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (3rd ed., pp. 1131-1161). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
McLean, K. (2001). Emotional Literacy: 10 "habits for developing choice, personal accountability and emotional well-being". (Vol. First Ed.). Subiaco, Western Australia: East Perth Print Shop.
MYRAD (2002). Middle Years Research and Development [MYRAD] Project. A report on the learning & teaching innovation division of Department of Education and Training. Melbourne: University of Melbourne. http://www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/mys/research/#myrad
Piercy, B. (1971). Strategies for developing reading for independence in word recognition. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, New York.
Predazzi, M., Vercauteren, R. & Loriaux, M. (2000). The culture of the meeting of generations to overcome social and ethnic discrimination. (M. Costacurta, Trans. Vol. 2). Gallarate, Italy. Il Melo Centro di Cooperazione Sociale.
Schaper, L. & Flores, J. (1985). Perceptual learning style differences among Mexican American high school and university students. Paper presented at the The Annual Conference for Bilingual Education, San Francisco, CA.
Schevill, H. S. (1973). Longitudinal kindergarten-first grade perceptual study: Temporal ordering of first grade reading. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Simmons, H. (1969). Study of visual and auditory skills as related to elementary school education. ERIC Digest, No. 187.
Skinner, E. A. & Belmont, M. J. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behaviour and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 571-581.
Taylor, M., Houghton, S. & Chapman, E. (2004). Primitive reflexes and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Developmental origins of classroom dysfunction. International Journal of Special Education, 19(1), 23-36.
Shimojo, 1999 #137
Abrams 1976 #6
Plumb, 2002 #52
Greenspan, Stanley I :ref to be added:
a. Fonzi 1988
|symbiotic||a mutually advantageous association or relationship between persons|
|osmotic reciprocity||process by which something is acquired by absorption, a mutual action of give and take, especially in the interchange of privileges between distinct individuals|
|perceptual modalities||a sensory channel through which individuals receive and retain information|
|Alzheimer's Disease||a serious disorder of the brain manifesting itself in premature senility|
|dementia||chronic or persistent of the mental processes marked by memory disorders, personality changes, impaired reasoning; due to brain disease or injury|
|senile dementia||severe form of mental deterioration in old age, characterized by loss of memory and control of bodily function|
|Author: Mrs Delphine P. Shaw. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please cite as: Shaw, D. P. (2007). The pedagogic aspects of intergenerationalism. Proceedings Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Forum 2007. http://www.waier.org.au/forums/2007/shaw.html