What is Intergenerational Learning?

Intergenerational Learning (IL) describes the way that people of all ages can learn together and from each other. IL is an important part of Lifelong Learning, where the generations work together to gain skills, values and knowledge.

Beyond the transfer of knowledge, IL fosters reciprocal learning relationships between different generations and helps to develop social capital and social cohesion in our ageing societies. IL is one way of addressing the significant demographic change we are experiencing across Europe and is as a way of enhancing intergenerational solidarity through intergenerational practice (IP).

The aim of IP is to bring together people from different generations in purposeful, mutually beneficial activities, which promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contributes to building communities and neighbourhoods where people respect each other and are better connected. IP is inclusive, building on the positive resources that both the younger and older generations have to offer each other and those around them.

Why is Intergenerational Learning a key issue?

Many changes in society – such as increased geographic mobility – have led to generations frequently becoming distanced or segregated from one another, particularly younger and older people. This separation can lead to unrealistic, negative stereotypes between generations and a decrease in positive exchanges between them. Yet these separated generations have resources of value to each other and share areas of concern – for example, both younger and older generations are often marginalised in decision-making that directly affects their lives.

IL is an effective way to address a number of issues, many of them key government priorities, such as building active communities, promoting citizenship, regenerating neighbourhoods and addressing inequality. The links between intergenerational learning, research and policy are key to the development of intergenerational practice throughout Europe and to the integration of intergenerational learning into relevant policy areas.