Lifelong learning, intergenerational learning, and social capital : from theory to practice
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between lifelong learning, intergenerational learning and social capital by reporting on an analysis of the concepts and an investigation of one instance of intergenerational interaction, namely “the granddad programme” – an intervention project run by a limited number of schools in the Stockholm area. The theoretical background concerns both the lifelong perspectiveand the lifewide perspective of learning across the lifespan. The lifewide perspective includes both formal and informal learning. Social capital is also explored, in order to establish the extent to which this concept is compatible with the conceptual framework outlined in this study.First a structural model is developed in order to elucidate the conceptual framework and its relationship to classroom practice. Indicators for measuring social capital are then constructed on the basis of questionnaire data. Responses from a total of 580 pupils, 19 granddads and 27 teachers in 17 schools were collected, after which Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), using the statistical software LISREL, was applied in order to test the model. With regard to the granddads themselves, an additional qualitative analysis was also carried out on a set of narrative data, regarding their perceptions and experiences of their work in the schools.The results indicate that the granddads’ work itself is forming part of the social capital between individual granddads and the pupils. The pupil responses indicate that boys and girls consider that they enjoy similar opportunities in school, that they feel equally secure in school and that the granddad assists everyone. The results support the claim concerning increased social capital for the pupils, although there are differences between boys and girls with regard to the relative significance of the various entities of social capital. The responses from the granddads, indicate that they find their work demanding, but nonetheless rewarding because of the social network that it has established for them with the staff and pupils and the positive response from the pupils. This indicates an increase in social capital for the granddads themselves in the school context. These results support the theoretical model because interaction that occurs in the classrooms in schools where there is granddad intervention provides opportunities for both formal and informal learning and for increased social capital to be generated on the part of both the younger and the older generation.
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