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1: Leadership Training & Development: Students Become Teachers

Students participate in training sessions before meeting with the older participants. In these preparatory meetings, students discuss how to relate to the older generation, what is expected of them as young educators, and how their roles are defined in the project. They explore the place of the elderly in contemporary society, and the importance of respect, patience and tolerance. Often in the process of learning about the struggles and achievements experienced in old age, many common stereotypes held by the younger generation are challenged.

The training sessions and essentially going through the experience of the program cultivate young leaders and creative thinking. The educator and students explore a range of issues and dilemmas   – what strengths does each side have? How can I help the other? What do I want to learn from the other?  How can we share and interact together using our different strengths? These discussions, allow students to think together about the learning and teaching roles of the student and the senior within the project thus preventing either from being over-dominant.

It is also recommended that the seniors participate in one session with the educator before meeting the students, if possible, to address questions and expectations. This way, the educator establishes a personal connection with these older “students”, as well as discusses the program’s schedule and goals.

Suggested lessons for leadership training on working with the older generation follow. Choose any (or all) that fit best for your populations.