Learning from an Older Generation: Challenging Stereotypes
The fourth in a series considering lessons that can be learnt from an older generation
by Philippa Rae
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To challenge stereotypes and encourage us to think differently about the older generation.
Preparation and materials
Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- a range of people of different ages, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ydgm9jqm
- Bryson William Verdun Hayes, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yboo7qel
- Verdun Hayes skydiving, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7lnqwjv
Have available the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
- ‘Record breaking: 101yo D-Day veteran becomes oldest skydiver’ (1.11 minutes long), available at: https://tinyurl.com/y77g6o3w
- ‘Elderly couple passionate about roller skating’ (2.14 minutes long), available at: https://tinyurl.com/yajwonxj
- ‘Amazing old man roller skating’ (0.29 minutes long), available at: https://tinyurl.com/yblxx32q
For further information and more examples, you can explore the following resources.
- ‘Intergenerational programs – Live with Legacy’ (2.24 minutes long), available at: https://tinyurl.com/yb8ylu9f
- An article about intergenerational volunteering on the BBC website, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y6vl4dos
- Magic Me, an arts charity that brings the generations together to build a stronger, safer community, available at: https://magicme.co.uk/
Show the image of a range of people of different ages.
Point out that everyone in the image is different, and each of them will have different skills and abilities. No two people come from exactly the same background, life experience or perspective. By listening to and spending time with other people, we can learn a great deal from each other.
Ask the children to think about people they know who fit into different age groups, such as family, friends, people in school and neighbours.
Ask the children the following questions.
- How much do you know about them?
- Do we make assumptions about them because of what they look like, their age, what they wear or where they live?
It can be easy to make assumptions about people - to think something about them is true, without really knowing them. We may think in a certain way about older people, but perhaps there are times when we should think again.
Show the image of Bryson William Verdun Hayes.
Ask the children to look at the image and guess why this man is famous.
Explain that the image shows Bryson William Verdun Hayes, who is the world’s oldest tandem skydiver. He skydived for the first time to celebrate his hundredth birthday and now, at 101 years old, he has entered the record books.
Let’s see him in action!
Show the ‘Record breaking: 101yo D-Day veteran becomes oldest skydiver’ video.
Verdun has always been a brave man. During the Second World War, he fought on the beaches of Normandy. He had suffered many health problems, but he didn’t let that stop him.
Show the ‘Elderly couple passionate about roller skating’ and the ‘Amazing old man roller skating’ videos.
Ask the children what they think about the videos.
Listen to a range of responses.
Point out that not all older people are physically able to perform such feats, but that doesn’t mean that these people can’t interest us or surprise us.
Various organizations have set up special projects to bring people of different ages together to share their talents and build bonds to form happier and more integrated communities. These are called intergenerational groups, which means that they involve different generations.
Optional: show the ‘Intergenerational programs – Live with Legacy’ video.
Ask the children if it is necessary to be part of a project to get to know older people. Challenge the children to find out more about the older people they know, such as grandparents. What were their childhoods like? What were their favourite toys when they were younger? Where did they go on holiday? Do they have a special hobby?
Time for reflection
Let’s think about the people we know, both old and young.
- How much do we actually know about them?
- Do we take the time to listen or are we always too busy?
We might be surprised by the lives of many older people if we only took the time to listen.
Please help us to appreciate all of the people who are in our lives.
Help us to take the time to listen and to understand and appreciate their unique qualities.
Please help us to understand and value each other so that our communities are better and friendlier places in which to live.