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Intergenerational Sharing and Learning

“It is this uninterrupted coming and going, in and out of the old and new that fulfills the destiny of life”

~Dr. Binta Masani~

What is intergenerational knowledge transmission?

Who gave you the first glimpse of your cultural identity?

Where did you learn your social boundaries?

When did you receive your instruction for adulthood, and who taught you? 

I think the best way to answer these questions is to have you think back to your childhood. I was first introduced to the theory of intergenerational transmission in my family of origin. Of course, what social theorists called intergenerational transmission seemed like a natural part of my growing up. I never wondered about the intergenerational connections I witnessed because to me they represented security and a sense of belonging;

something more significant than me, and that ‘something’ is called ‘traditions’.

The transmission of life learning occurred informally as I listened to information given through the narratives of my elders. I can still hear elders in my family and community sharing their knowledge and wisdom through story. The stories I heard while growing up hold as much value today as they did then. In fact, I have practiced the

narrative tradition by passing on those same stories to my son, in hopes of giving him a cultural connection larger

and more meaningful than any reality show or HBO movie!

When members of society align themselves with common goals and shared interest, human growth and community revitalization continue to have a place in preserving the culture for future generations (Dewey, 1916). One way to protect and preserve cultural traditions is with informal learning that occurs through intergenerational transmission of life experience. This informal learning process allows younger members of society to construct their beliefs, values, and social norms based on the knowledge transmitted by older members of their communities. Since intergenerational knowledge transmission is an important element in family cohesiveness, community sustainability, and the continuity of life, we thought you might be interested in learning more.

Here are some of our favorite ‘learning links’ on intergenerationality. Please email us your comments, experiences or if you have 'learning links' to share about intergeneration learning.

1) Video:

Click Our Voices Speak to watch a short video about the power of intergenerational relationships for African American and Jamaican women.

2) Websites:

3) Reading materials:

Brubaker, T. H. & Brubaker, E. Four Rs of intergenerational relationships: Implications for practice: Michigan Family Review, 4, (1), Summer 1999, 5-15.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Macmillan.

Newman, S. M., Larkin, E., Friedlander, D., & Goff, R. (2012). Intergenerational Relationships: Conversations on Practice and Research Across Cultures. Routledge.

Newman, S., & Hatton-Yeo, A. (2008). Intergenerational learning and the contributions of older people. Ageing Horizons, 8(10), 31-39.

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