A year ago the Guardian newspaper reported on a primary school in Essex that won a national dementia award for an “innovative intergenerational project”. The project is indeed an outstanding example of innovative learning.
The project involves older adults who are experiencing isolation, depression and early dementia visiting the school with volunteer support workers and taking part in activities including music, reading and games with young children (up to year 4).
According to the newspaper report, the project has achieved excellent results: “while nationally reception age children make six steps of progress over the year, children taking part in the [project] make 10.”
This project is an excellent example of innovative thinking on education that boosts children’s learning and at the same time addresses life-based learning priorities:
- Developing children’s communication skills
- Giving them experience of forming bonds of friendship with people outside their immediate circle of family, friends and teachers
- Building stronger communities by helping tackle the scourge of loneliness and social isolation
It is also encouraging that, according to the report, the number of such projects is on the increase and that there is also academic interest. We argued in a recent post that there needs to be “a more systematic approach to developing links between schools and those who are at greatest risk of isolation and loneliness, something that is surely more practicable that ever in this age of digital interconnectedness.”
Life-based learning enables, enriches and enlightens. Its nine learning themes animate learning, bringing purpose and meaning by tackling the urgent individual, social and environmental challenges of our times.
Image at the head of this article is credited to Martin Godwin/The Guardian and featured in the Guardian online article cited in this post