The advantage of bringing the experience, wisdom and skills of different people, different generations is priceless. The kind of collective intelligence, shared meaning among generations can help us to build peaceful and emphatic societies. But how we can go for that on a bigger scale? How to make seniors and young people spending more time together, learning from each other, how to include mid-aged who are so busy today? It depends on people but we can also create some environment for more intergenerational dialogue.
First, let's think: what is intergenerational dialogue? And how to initiate it?
We can look at it from many perspectives. I would like to propose two, I work with daily:
1. “Dialogue as the philosophy of life and approach to others”- which means better understanding, better listening to each other, more respect, awareness of stereotypes – generally some skills and consciousness that can be practised together on dialogue workshops, dialogue meetings, dialogue sessions. This is on a deeper level with more exploration of our minds, habits, judgements.
2. “Daily dialogue” – meaning different activities together, not only in our families but also societies; like language lessons, dancing, cooking together. This is on “daily level”. We meet, we talk, we do things together, we come closer.
Ad. 1. I have organized dialogue workshops for 10 years now. We meet, seat in the circle and accept some rules, like a partnership, carefully listening, respecting each others' opinions. We can go just for a talk like what is intergenerational dialogue? What supports it? What problems are to be counted? Have some “round table”. Or for workshops about communication, stereotypes, judgments. Practising some skills like deep listening. Doing some exercises together.
Ad.2. We can learn together, have fun together. Younger can teach the others new technologies, seniors can support with knowledge of the history of the place they live, sharing some life experience etc.
Volunteering also brings people together. Helping the others "does not have the age". It seems to be more and more popular.
There are a lot of such initiatives, activities. But, I think, we still have to less real intergenerational dialogue. Dialogue that changes people for better and has a long-term impact. We have separate schools, colleges, universities of the third age and they hardly cooperate. I think it is a big loss of potential.
Within a network of some organizations in Warsaw, we are trying to encourage educational places to have more projects and meetings together.
We are also looking for good practices in our country and abroad. We learn all the time, learn from different generations.
Let’s have more intergenerational dialogue. It pays off. Let's treat intergenerational dialogue as a common value and go for it.