FOCUS ON SENIORS: ‘Tell me a story’

Opinion Aug 06, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The words “tell me a story” can evoke powerful memories.   

You may recall cuddling up in a comfy chair with a favourite book, while parents, aunts and uncles or even older siblings, would read aloud. You may be reminded of sitting in a circle during story time at school or the public library. Or it may be that you remember your grandparents telling you stories from their own lives.

Since the beginning of time, stories passed down from generation to generation formed a historical record of important dates, events and people. Long before the written word, oral histories told the tale. These spoken stories usually focused on famous people or happenings.

Everyone has a story.

There are usually dozens and dozens of stories within the central story, derived from memories stored in the heart over the course of a lifetime. The stories can entertain, enlighten and educate.  They should be preserved.

Dr. Michael Ackerman, a professor in the English department in the faculty of liberal arts at Laurier Brantford, firmly believes this. He wants to help people tell their personal life history. He is planning to introduce a new class at the university to do this.

As the newest board member for the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA), Ackerman is the Laurier Brantford appointee.

Ackerman developed a fondness for words and stories through his relationship with his grandmother, “Chickie.” She was a smart, passionate and fiercely independent woman who left her desire to attend university behind in order to raise four children on her own. Chickie was a voracious reader who loved the daily crossword puzzle.

“I was born into a family of engineers, athletes and people that generally understand math,” Ackerman said. “Chickie was the only one in my family who was like me.”

“We loved the arts – music, poetry and visiting art galleries,” he said.

When Ackerman was in high school, Chickie enrolled in a writing class. Each student was allowed to invite one other individual to attend the class and she chose him. They spent the next two years, meeting weekly to work on their writing.

Ackerman is deeply thankful that Chickie included him in her life in such a significant way. His exposure to her – her past, her thoughts, her trials and dreams – has been a formative influence in his life.

The new writing course scheduled for this September at Laurier Brantford is a hybrid class. It will involve university students and seniors and will have two parts.

The first part involves studying early autobiographical writing, while the second involves writing workshops for participants. In this way, students and seniors can reflect on their own life story and develop the basic tools needed to write that story down.

Ackerman has two primary goals for this course. He wants to create a space for Laurier Brantford students to meet, talk, share stories and learn to listen to one another. The other objective is to help both groups – students and seniors – to equip themselves with the time and tools necessary to start sharing their personal narrative.

There will be 30 Laurier students and 30 spots open for community members in this class.

At the end of the class, students and seniors should have a better understanding and awareness of their own story. They should have developed improved listening skills and gained an appreciation for others’ personal histories.

If they choose to publish their memoirs, they will have a permanent and lasting record of their story.

Ackerman is very excited about the partnership between Laurier Brantford and GRCOA. This new class is the first step.

He firmly believes that both students and seniors can benefit from interacting with one another. What better way to foster that dynamic than by having the two groups listening to each other’s stories? His idea is that the student will partner with one of the community participants for the entire term as they work on their narratives.

Down the road, Ackerman would like to see more seniors accessing the university. People over 65 can take university credits toward a degree at no cost. That fact is not well known. Removing cost as a barrier could see an increase in mature student enrollment.

There may be areas of the university that could benefit from GRCOA expertise. For example, is the school age-friendly?

Watch this column and GRCOA’s website for class registration details. This new partnership promises to be an exciting one with opportunities for integration of students and seniors.

What a great story that will be.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: ‘Tell me a story’

New Laurier program engages seniors, youth in storytelling

Opinion Aug 06, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The words “tell me a story” can evoke powerful memories.   

You may recall cuddling up in a comfy chair with a favourite book, while parents, aunts and uncles or even older siblings, would read aloud. You may be reminded of sitting in a circle during story time at school or the public library. Or it may be that you remember your grandparents telling you stories from their own lives.

Since the beginning of time, stories passed down from generation to generation formed a historical record of important dates, events and people. Long before the written word, oral histories told the tale. These spoken stories usually focused on famous people or happenings.

Everyone has a story.

There are usually dozens and dozens of stories within the central story, derived from memories stored in the heart over the course of a lifetime. The stories can entertain, enlighten and educate.  They should be preserved.

Dr. Michael Ackerman, a professor in the English department in the faculty of liberal arts at Laurier Brantford, firmly believes this. He wants to help people tell their personal life history. He is planning to introduce a new class at the university to do this.

As the newest board member for the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA), Ackerman is the Laurier Brantford appointee.

Ackerman developed a fondness for words and stories through his relationship with his grandmother, “Chickie.” She was a smart, passionate and fiercely independent woman who left her desire to attend university behind in order to raise four children on her own. Chickie was a voracious reader who loved the daily crossword puzzle.

“I was born into a family of engineers, athletes and people that generally understand math,” Ackerman said. “Chickie was the only one in my family who was like me.”

“We loved the arts – music, poetry and visiting art galleries,” he said.

When Ackerman was in high school, Chickie enrolled in a writing class. Each student was allowed to invite one other individual to attend the class and she chose him. They spent the next two years, meeting weekly to work on their writing.

Ackerman is deeply thankful that Chickie included him in her life in such a significant way. His exposure to her – her past, her thoughts, her trials and dreams – has been a formative influence in his life.

The new writing course scheduled for this September at Laurier Brantford is a hybrid class. It will involve university students and seniors and will have two parts.

The first part involves studying early autobiographical writing, while the second involves writing workshops for participants. In this way, students and seniors can reflect on their own life story and develop the basic tools needed to write that story down.

Ackerman has two primary goals for this course. He wants to create a space for Laurier Brantford students to meet, talk, share stories and learn to listen to one another. The other objective is to help both groups – students and seniors – to equip themselves with the time and tools necessary to start sharing their personal narrative.

There will be 30 Laurier students and 30 spots open for community members in this class.

At the end of the class, students and seniors should have a better understanding and awareness of their own story. They should have developed improved listening skills and gained an appreciation for others’ personal histories.

If they choose to publish their memoirs, they will have a permanent and lasting record of their story.

Ackerman is very excited about the partnership between Laurier Brantford and GRCOA. This new class is the first step.

He firmly believes that both students and seniors can benefit from interacting with one another. What better way to foster that dynamic than by having the two groups listening to each other’s stories? His idea is that the student will partner with one of the community participants for the entire term as they work on their narratives.

Down the road, Ackerman would like to see more seniors accessing the university. People over 65 can take university credits toward a degree at no cost. That fact is not well known. Removing cost as a barrier could see an increase in mature student enrollment.

There may be areas of the university that could benefit from GRCOA expertise. For example, is the school age-friendly?

Watch this column and GRCOA’s website for class registration details. This new partnership promises to be an exciting one with opportunities for integration of students and seniors.

What a great story that will be.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: ‘Tell me a story’

New Laurier program engages seniors, youth in storytelling

Opinion Aug 06, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The words “tell me a story” can evoke powerful memories.   

You may recall cuddling up in a comfy chair with a favourite book, while parents, aunts and uncles or even older siblings, would read aloud. You may be reminded of sitting in a circle during story time at school or the public library. Or it may be that you remember your grandparents telling you stories from their own lives.

Since the beginning of time, stories passed down from generation to generation formed a historical record of important dates, events and people. Long before the written word, oral histories told the tale. These spoken stories usually focused on famous people or happenings.

Everyone has a story.

There are usually dozens and dozens of stories within the central story, derived from memories stored in the heart over the course of a lifetime. The stories can entertain, enlighten and educate.  They should be preserved.

Dr. Michael Ackerman, a professor in the English department in the faculty of liberal arts at Laurier Brantford, firmly believes this. He wants to help people tell their personal life history. He is planning to introduce a new class at the university to do this.

As the newest board member for the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA), Ackerman is the Laurier Brantford appointee.

Ackerman developed a fondness for words and stories through his relationship with his grandmother, “Chickie.” She was a smart, passionate and fiercely independent woman who left her desire to attend university behind in order to raise four children on her own. Chickie was a voracious reader who loved the daily crossword puzzle.

“I was born into a family of engineers, athletes and people that generally understand math,” Ackerman said. “Chickie was the only one in my family who was like me.”

“We loved the arts – music, poetry and visiting art galleries,” he said.

When Ackerman was in high school, Chickie enrolled in a writing class. Each student was allowed to invite one other individual to attend the class and she chose him. They spent the next two years, meeting weekly to work on their writing.

Ackerman is deeply thankful that Chickie included him in her life in such a significant way. His exposure to her – her past, her thoughts, her trials and dreams – has been a formative influence in his life.

The new writing course scheduled for this September at Laurier Brantford is a hybrid class. It will involve university students and seniors and will have two parts.

The first part involves studying early autobiographical writing, while the second involves writing workshops for participants. In this way, students and seniors can reflect on their own life story and develop the basic tools needed to write that story down.

Ackerman has two primary goals for this course. He wants to create a space for Laurier Brantford students to meet, talk, share stories and learn to listen to one another. The other objective is to help both groups – students and seniors – to equip themselves with the time and tools necessary to start sharing their personal narrative.

There will be 30 Laurier students and 30 spots open for community members in this class.

At the end of the class, students and seniors should have a better understanding and awareness of their own story. They should have developed improved listening skills and gained an appreciation for others’ personal histories.

If they choose to publish their memoirs, they will have a permanent and lasting record of their story.

Ackerman is very excited about the partnership between Laurier Brantford and GRCOA. This new class is the first step.

He firmly believes that both students and seniors can benefit from interacting with one another. What better way to foster that dynamic than by having the two groups listening to each other’s stories? His idea is that the student will partner with one of the community participants for the entire term as they work on their narratives.

Down the road, Ackerman would like to see more seniors accessing the university. People over 65 can take university credits toward a degree at no cost. That fact is not well known. Removing cost as a barrier could see an increase in mature student enrollment.

There may be areas of the university that could benefit from GRCOA expertise. For example, is the school age-friendly?

Watch this column and GRCOA’s website for class registration details. This new partnership promises to be an exciting one with opportunities for integration of students and seniors.

What a great story that will be.