FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: the final chapter?

Opinion Dec 04, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The intergenerational writing class at Laurier Brantford this past semester may be drawing to a close, but the story is not over. In fact, far from it.

In the beginning, the classes began with a lecture from professor Michael Ackerman. He would then assign writing exercises to be completed through small group work with students pairing up with the community representatives. Each week finished with a large group discussion.  

A dramatic shift occurred in the fifth week, when Ackerman offered the group a choice: they could continue with classes as the curriculum had been laid out, or they could take on a project for an exhibition at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.  

The choice came about when people at the museum became aware of the pilot writing class. Planning to host an exhibit on aging and writing, they invited Ackerman’s class to take part.

Switching focus and direction, the class voted to participate with the museum. Work on the projects began immediately. In small groups – with an older adult in each – the projects came to life. Each is as different and unique as the participants. There is no question the Museum will have an amazing exhibit in 2016.

Two sisters in the class took on what is known as artifact style. Their exhibit will display their dad’s artificial arm as the central focus.  

Sylvia McIvor and Sharon Mannen write about their different reactions to the accident that claimed their father’s arm and how it affected them as individuals. They also describe an amazing man of determination and will who was already at work on the farm less than a week after his loss.

Partnering with the sisters were Carley Hutton and Jessica Malcolm. They agreed the class exceeded their expectations. With a broad grin, Carley added, “It was a nice change from regular university routine.”

The common denominator bringing a different group of four together was the love of sports. Amber Deleebeeck, Devin Gardiner, Elena O’Brien and Doug Smith are writing a coaching book.

Even though it had been several weeks, they were still amazed they had found each other. They all spoke of the mutual trust that developed in their group that allowed them to explore their shared passion through strong connections with each other. Smith, the older participant in their foursome, described his enjoyment listening to the students’ stories.

Twosome Mike Clancy and Victoria Wong also spoke of connections. Clancy said, “As elders, we need to give youth tools. We’ve lived through a period of history and can show students how and why things happen, in order for them to facilitate change.”

Through an informal poll, all participants agreed that they would take the class again should the opportunity arise, and that they would definitely recommend the experience to their friends.

Indeed, some already have.

The original goal of the class was to encourage and support lifelong learning through exposure to intergenerational experience. An unanticipated outcome was the development of close interpersonal relationships between the students and the older adults.  

The group seemed to share a common respect for Ackerman, too. Christiana Boersma said, “I like Ackerman’s classes in general. He pushes me to do the best that I’m capable of.”

Claire Mansfield summed it up by saying, “Michael as the professor was a definite bonus. He is incredibly open, friendly and articulate.”  

Mansfield was also full of praise for her student partner who aspires to teach. She said, “The students that Nicole Desoysa teaches in the future will benefit from her. She truly cares about kids and the future. It’s so nice to know that there are teachers like that out there.”

At this time of year, university students are scrambling to finish essays and projects in order to earn their credits. It is a stressful and uncertain time for them. Yet, each week they showed up to this special class, ready to work and open to experience the value of learning from an older generation. It seemed to offer them a respite from the day-to-day grind of earning an education.

Will this class be offered again? The participants definitely agree that it should. However, that will be up to Laurier and Ackerman to decide.  

Regardless, the mentorships and friendships will continue. Also, students and elders will correspond to finish their projects for exhibit next spring at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.   

The final class on Dec. 9 may be fast approaching, but clearly this is not the end of the tale. 

Congratulations one and all, for through your efforts to try something new, you accomplished a great deal.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: the final chapter?

Student-senior writing class at Laurier recruited for museum exhibit

Opinion Dec 04, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The intergenerational writing class at Laurier Brantford this past semester may be drawing to a close, but the story is not over. In fact, far from it.

In the beginning, the classes began with a lecture from professor Michael Ackerman. He would then assign writing exercises to be completed through small group work with students pairing up with the community representatives. Each week finished with a large group discussion.  

A dramatic shift occurred in the fifth week, when Ackerman offered the group a choice: they could continue with classes as the curriculum had been laid out, or they could take on a project for an exhibition at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.  

The choice came about when people at the museum became aware of the pilot writing class. Planning to host an exhibit on aging and writing, they invited Ackerman’s class to take part.

Switching focus and direction, the class voted to participate with the museum. Work on the projects began immediately. In small groups – with an older adult in each – the projects came to life. Each is as different and unique as the participants. There is no question the Museum will have an amazing exhibit in 2016.

Two sisters in the class took on what is known as artifact style. Their exhibit will display their dad’s artificial arm as the central focus.  

Sylvia McIvor and Sharon Mannen write about their different reactions to the accident that claimed their father’s arm and how it affected them as individuals. They also describe an amazing man of determination and will who was already at work on the farm less than a week after his loss.

Partnering with the sisters were Carley Hutton and Jessica Malcolm. They agreed the class exceeded their expectations. With a broad grin, Carley added, “It was a nice change from regular university routine.”

The common denominator bringing a different group of four together was the love of sports. Amber Deleebeeck, Devin Gardiner, Elena O’Brien and Doug Smith are writing a coaching book.

Even though it had been several weeks, they were still amazed they had found each other. They all spoke of the mutual trust that developed in their group that allowed them to explore their shared passion through strong connections with each other. Smith, the older participant in their foursome, described his enjoyment listening to the students’ stories.

Twosome Mike Clancy and Victoria Wong also spoke of connections. Clancy said, “As elders, we need to give youth tools. We’ve lived through a period of history and can show students how and why things happen, in order for them to facilitate change.”

Through an informal poll, all participants agreed that they would take the class again should the opportunity arise, and that they would definitely recommend the experience to their friends.

Indeed, some already have.

The original goal of the class was to encourage and support lifelong learning through exposure to intergenerational experience. An unanticipated outcome was the development of close interpersonal relationships between the students and the older adults.  

The group seemed to share a common respect for Ackerman, too. Christiana Boersma said, “I like Ackerman’s classes in general. He pushes me to do the best that I’m capable of.”

Claire Mansfield summed it up by saying, “Michael as the professor was a definite bonus. He is incredibly open, friendly and articulate.”  

Mansfield was also full of praise for her student partner who aspires to teach. She said, “The students that Nicole Desoysa teaches in the future will benefit from her. She truly cares about kids and the future. It’s so nice to know that there are teachers like that out there.”

At this time of year, university students are scrambling to finish essays and projects in order to earn their credits. It is a stressful and uncertain time for them. Yet, each week they showed up to this special class, ready to work and open to experience the value of learning from an older generation. It seemed to offer them a respite from the day-to-day grind of earning an education.

Will this class be offered again? The participants definitely agree that it should. However, that will be up to Laurier and Ackerman to decide.  

Regardless, the mentorships and friendships will continue. Also, students and elders will correspond to finish their projects for exhibit next spring at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.   

The final class on Dec. 9 may be fast approaching, but clearly this is not the end of the tale. 

Congratulations one and all, for through your efforts to try something new, you accomplished a great deal.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: Tell me a story: the final chapter?

Student-senior writing class at Laurier recruited for museum exhibit

Opinion Dec 04, 2015 by Kathryn Poirier Brant News

The intergenerational writing class at Laurier Brantford this past semester may be drawing to a close, but the story is not over. In fact, far from it.

In the beginning, the classes began with a lecture from professor Michael Ackerman. He would then assign writing exercises to be completed through small group work with students pairing up with the community representatives. Each week finished with a large group discussion.  

A dramatic shift occurred in the fifth week, when Ackerman offered the group a choice: they could continue with classes as the curriculum had been laid out, or they could take on a project for an exhibition at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.  

The choice came about when people at the museum became aware of the pilot writing class. Planning to host an exhibit on aging and writing, they invited Ackerman’s class to take part.

Switching focus and direction, the class voted to participate with the museum. Work on the projects began immediately. In small groups – with an older adult in each – the projects came to life. Each is as different and unique as the participants. There is no question the Museum will have an amazing exhibit in 2016.

Two sisters in the class took on what is known as artifact style. Their exhibit will display their dad’s artificial arm as the central focus.  

Sylvia McIvor and Sharon Mannen write about their different reactions to the accident that claimed their father’s arm and how it affected them as individuals. They also describe an amazing man of determination and will who was already at work on the farm less than a week after his loss.

Partnering with the sisters were Carley Hutton and Jessica Malcolm. They agreed the class exceeded their expectations. With a broad grin, Carley added, “It was a nice change from regular university routine.”

The common denominator bringing a different group of four together was the love of sports. Amber Deleebeeck, Devin Gardiner, Elena O’Brien and Doug Smith are writing a coaching book.

Even though it had been several weeks, they were still amazed they had found each other. They all spoke of the mutual trust that developed in their group that allowed them to explore their shared passion through strong connections with each other. Smith, the older participant in their foursome, described his enjoyment listening to the students’ stories.

Twosome Mike Clancy and Victoria Wong also spoke of connections. Clancy said, “As elders, we need to give youth tools. We’ve lived through a period of history and can show students how and why things happen, in order for them to facilitate change.”

Through an informal poll, all participants agreed that they would take the class again should the opportunity arise, and that they would definitely recommend the experience to their friends.

Indeed, some already have.

The original goal of the class was to encourage and support lifelong learning through exposure to intergenerational experience. An unanticipated outcome was the development of close interpersonal relationships between the students and the older adults.  

The group seemed to share a common respect for Ackerman, too. Christiana Boersma said, “I like Ackerman’s classes in general. He pushes me to do the best that I’m capable of.”

Claire Mansfield summed it up by saying, “Michael as the professor was a definite bonus. He is incredibly open, friendly and articulate.”  

Mansfield was also full of praise for her student partner who aspires to teach. She said, “The students that Nicole Desoysa teaches in the future will benefit from her. She truly cares about kids and the future. It’s so nice to know that there are teachers like that out there.”

At this time of year, university students are scrambling to finish essays and projects in order to earn their credits. It is a stressful and uncertain time for them. Yet, each week they showed up to this special class, ready to work and open to experience the value of learning from an older generation. It seemed to offer them a respite from the day-to-day grind of earning an education.

Will this class be offered again? The participants definitely agree that it should. However, that will be up to Laurier and Ackerman to decide.  

Regardless, the mentorships and friendships will continue. Also, students and elders will correspond to finish their projects for exhibit next spring at the Museum in Kitchener-Waterloo.   

The final class on Dec. 9 may be fast approaching, but clearly this is not the end of the tale. 

Congratulations one and all, for through your efforts to try something new, you accomplished a great deal.