Thinking For Change (LifeLink)
A unique exercise in intergenerational learning has not only improved children’s thinking, but also improved social cohesion on an estate in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear.
Philosophy for Children, part of the Thinking for Change (LifeLink) programme, encourages group learning and discussion, and is usually led by teachers or sixth formers. But under the Thinking for Change (LifeLink) programme, more than 40 volunteers aged 53 to 87 go into a number of schools every week. They have two days of training specifically for the course, as well as other training such as Outsmart role-playing programmes, and say that this has raised their confidence and challenged their own thinking.
Volunteers have noticed how the respect they are shown in school has spread outside to the estate and they have learned to understand the young people better. Teachers have documented the ways in which the children have developed greater capacity to reason, ask questions and be critical, and say that in many cases their behaviour has improved.
Michelle Whitworth, nominator and LifeLink Co-ordinator for Age Concern, said, “The impact on children’s learning and their attitude to older people has been outstanding.”
By working alongside children, the volunteers serve as role models for lifelong learning. “I can’t wait to start going back into the schools after the holidays,” said one volunteer.