Bridging the Gap
Bridging the generation gap is important
by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the importance of bridging the generation gap between old and young.
Preparation and materials
- You will need ten students to read out lines in the ‘Assembly’, Steps 3-5. Five of them will be taking the part of students and five of them will be taking the part of older people (use props as appropriate to show the difference). The students will particularly need to be aware of their role in Step 5.
- Optional: you may wish to use a large sheet to act as a river and lay paper on top of this to act as a bridge.
- In this assembly, we are going to think about the older generation. Did you know that there are over one million men in the UK who are over 80? In fact, there are now more people in the UK who are over 60 than who are under 18. We all know some older people. Most of us have grandparents or even great-grandparents. Did you know that there are more than 14 million grandparents in the UK?
- Think about an older person with whom you have contact. What do they look like? What do they do? What can they not do?
Ask the students to describe that older person to the student next to them. Allow a few minutes for both students to have a turn.
- Many of you will have had positive things to say about your grandparents and the older people whom you know. But maybe some of you said something similar to one of these points of view.
Invite the five students to stand together at one side of the room (one side of the ‘river’ if you are using it).
Student 1: Some old people are always moaning. They grumble about everything.
Student 2: Some old people are boring. They tell long stories about the past.
Student 3: Some old people are scary. They shout and tell you off all the time.
Student 4: Some old people are very fragile. They look like they would fall over if you touched them.
Student 5: Some old people have lots of wrinkles and white hair. They look a bit strange.
- In the same way, some older people do not have very positive opinions of young people. Perhaps you know an older person who shares one of these opinions about young people.
Invite the five older people to stand together at the other side of the room (the opposite side of the ‘river’ if you are using it).
Older person 1: Some young people are too noisy. They shout all the time and never listen. It gives me a headache.
Older person 2: Some young people are rude and cheeky. When I get on the bus with lots of shopping, they don’t help me or think to offer me their seat.
Older person 3: Some young people will not keep still. They are always jumping around and would jump on your sofa if you let them.
Older person 4: Some young people just ignore old people as if we did not exist. They don’t even answer when you ask them a question.
Older person 5: Some young people don’t say sorry when they bump into you in the street or hit you with their ball.
- There is a gap that can develop between older people and young people. We call this the generation gap. It can be hard for young people to communicate with older people, and the reverse is also true. We need to think of ways to bridge that gap.
Put a ‘bridge’ in place across the ‘river’ if you are using it.
We need to come up with ideas of things that young and older people can do together. It is good to do things together. Listen to these suggestions and see if you can think of some of your own.
Each young person talks directly to one older person on the opposite side of the room (or the other side of the ‘river’ if you are using it). They invite them to cross the room (or ‘bridge’ if you are using it) and both go off together.
Student 1: Would you like to come fishing with me? We could catch the bus together and fish along the river. We could take a picnic.
Student 2: Will you teach me how to make a cake? I love the cakes you make and would love to learn.
Student 3: Would you like to play dominoes with me? I’m not very good and you’ll probably win, but the practice will make me better next time.
Student 4: Would you like to watch television with me? This is my favourite programme. When it has finished, you can choose what we watch next.
Student 5: Will you let me read my history homework to you? You can help me with the section about the war.
Time for reflection
Take a moment to reflect on one thing that you can do to bridge the gap between yourself and an older person.
Please listen to the words of this prayer and make them your own if you wish.
We thank you for our grandparents and great-grandparents.
We love them very much.
We thank you that you care for both older people and young people.
We are sorry for the times when we have not cared or shown respect for an older person.
Help us to be kind.
Help us to do what we can to make the generation gap narrower, not wider.
‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)