"Ageing, Wisdom and Links between Generations: Challenging Professional Assumptions"

Edmondson, Ricca (2008) "Ageing, Wisdom and Links between Generations: Challenging Professional Assumptions". [Conference Proceedings]


This paper reports on the progress of an on-going course dealing with ageing in the community, intergenerational relations, and wisdom. It aims to challenge conventional approaches within gerontology about how ageing should be studied. The course itself begins from literature dealing with the formation of life-courses in the contemporary world, concentrating on the question of wisdom – which used to be regarded as a central aim for a human lifetime. But more now needs to be known about what wisdom is, what wisdom among older people in Ireland entails, and what effects it has on intergenerational issues and relations. The course aims to develop and explore new strategies for supporting interaction between older and younger people in the community, and in doing so it explicitly links teaching and learning with participation in research activity and the construction of knowledge.Wisdom, in the past, used to be considered a resource offered by older people to society, making them valued as a group as well as conferring meaning on individuals’ life courses as they aged (Edmondson, 2005). But older people are now rarely expected to be wise, and the concept of wisdom itself has become unclear. This course aims to investigate how this concept can be explored and, if possible, restored – with impacts on how we interact with older people. This paper tries to evaluate the effects of teaching and learning in such a way that students can interact with older people in the community, appreciating older people’s insights, experiences and personalities; and so that they can also participate in eliciting significant new knowledge. Does this form of study produce identifiable benefits, both for the students and in terms of the results of their work?

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