copyright association ensemble demain.
In our societies where many families are fragmented (whether through divorce, or moving apart from their grandparents in the country), and where an ageing population is becoming ever more prominent, it is necessary to restore the links between the generations: children, teenagers, students, parents, grandparents, the elderly, need to share disappearing values, love and the mutual exchange of knowledge.
Intergeneration is the exchange taking place between all the stages of life: the transmission and sharing of knowledge, social skills and know-how. An intergenerational project cannot be improvised. It has to be integrated into a relevant teaching requirement, designed to answer operational objectives, and to gather together committed stakeholders and partners with the necessary material and human resources.
An educational programme initiated in the Academy of Paris ( and France’s Ministry of National Education) by Carole Gadet has been acting as a testing ground for more than eighteen years (in partnership with the NGO, "Ensemble Demain” – Together Tomorrow), with the aim of enabling the development of intergenerational and intercultural projects. These may contribute to a wide range of school subjects and disciplines: social and civic education; history, heritage and memory; literature, music and philosophy; language skills and the visual arts; physical education, nutrition, hygiene and health; earth and life sciences and new technologies including IT, videoconferencing and radio. Each brings something to the relationship between generations both in school time and in extracurricular activities. Multidisciplinary subjects have been evolved alongside delivery teams and teacher training courses, as part of this larger academic mission.
This started out as an experiment in Paris in 1999, and Carole Gadet developed the project through conferences and training courses that spread rapidly across France and into other countries, in partnership with the NGO, Together Tomorrow and the MGEN (General Mutual of National Education). This programme is now pursued in academies in 80 of France’s departments as well as extending its reputation through international events, exhibitions and training.
Carole Gadet has presented the Ensemble Demain programme in Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, Morocco, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Guyane, Guadeloupe, Martinique ( many Francophone countries and networks).
Who are the stakeholders?
The intergenerational project aims to bring generations together (children, parents, students, families, seniors and pensioners) by engaging them in a year of educational workshops or more.
These workshops are organised in school or on an extracurricular basis with youngsters ranging from kids in nurseries to pupils in secondary schools as well as in some cases, students in higher education. They take place in childcare centres, schools, or outside schools, in pensioners’ facilities (seniors clubs, nursing homes), theatres and cultural centres, universities and grandes écoles, and on a weekly or monthly schedule.
Workshops are based on the curriculum: reading, story-telling, theatre, poetry, musicals, dance, digital skills, science, literature, philosophy, intergenerational civic debates and the whole range of subjects listed above – to bring the generations together. For example, history and heritage projects can involve the participation of witnesses: pensioners from the neighbourhood, deportee members of the resistance, children in hiding, or migrant pensioners.
There are huge benefits to vocational training as well, where training can take place between the generations who coach each other in the discovery of various trades and skills, or in putting together your cv. We have also included projects based on international exchanges in our programmes.
Did you know that April 29, since 2009, has been specially designated not just any old European day of action, but as the European Day of Solidarity between the Generations? - the perfect opportunity for French ministries to highlight these intergenerational projects.
So since 2013, April 29 has become the National Day of Solidarity between Generations in the French education system – with no day of action like it in all of Europe. As a result, the French Ministry of Education encourages teachers to create intergenerational projects throughout the school year, with the support of the school inspectorates. Since 2012, in France both national and international exhibitions organized by Ensemble Demain and MGEN explore these intergenerational issues and challenges.
Challenges for learning
For the education sector, developing intergenerational links affords them an opportunity to do several things. It inculcates in our school pupils and young students the culture of "living together" together with the values that build respect and tolerance for those who are different. It provides a ready basis for creating educational courses in a type of citizenship that is shared between the generations. It encourages the transmission of republican values, secularism, citizenship and a culture of commitment to the training of future citizens.
This will help us to create a more collaborative and cohesive society. In the process, we can add value to our work on the memorializing of history and other historical issues. We can promote the work on new technologies in which young people have the advantage, and fight against social inequality in our society, mobilising the nation’s resources in the process.
In the process of consolidating the learning outcomes, we can be sure of strengthening our participants’ facility in languages, humanist culture, and an education in moral and civic responsibility, together with the capacity for autonomy and the acquisition of a sense of initiative; in short, a common skills base for all citizens.
We find that this also reinforced social ties and better equips the fight against violence, illiteracy and other sources perpetuating inequality by creating partnerships between the generations in primary and secondary schools, better empowering advances in education as well as in our society’s collective engagement with its elderly members.
Here are a few examples of intergenerational projects we have implemented
- To build citizenship, all year, students come to intergenerational workshops where the children join together with pensioners in the last year of preschool, to organise around the theme of health education.
- Classes in the second year of primary school visit assisted living accommodation for pensioners (ALA) once a month, to take part in intergenerational educational workshops shaped by the teacher’s class project, the school project and the ALA’s.
- Classes in the second year of secondary vocational education on ‘Care, Treatment and Services to Individuals’ organise conversation workshops and light meals in an ALA.
- History and heritage projects invite the participation of witnesses, such as
the class in the last year of lower secondary school that welcomes deportees, members of the resistance and children in hiding, who talk about their daily lives during the Second World War.
- International exchanges. One class in the last year of primary school enters into a correspondence with a class in the USA via computers and video conferencing. Classes take part together in intergenerational educational projects led by the teacher and a pensioner.
Each year, more than 50 new training courses and some conferences for the general public and for professionals are proposed by départements across France: for academies (the French Ministry of Education), for municipalities, county councils, (Ensemble Demain, MGEN and other partners). These are specifically aimed at developing the project on the national level but with an international perspective and some events are proposed in other countries each year. I am now a member of a European group of researchers on intergeneration – a network that brings together 26 countries.
copyright association ensemble demain.
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