What if we quit silo-ing ages?
I mean, what if we, as a society, quit building barriers between each age group and generation in existence? Instead of Pre-School here, Kindergarten there, 1st grade over on that side, high school seniors down the road and senior citizens in the home, combining them sometimes may prove beneficial.
Think about it. Each age group tends to end up only spending time with their own age group: schools keep every grade separate most, if not all, of the time; Parents go work at other places; after school programs are run by other sets of individuals and do not necessarily combine age groups; school sports are separated generally by age and led by a small group or a single adult; older individuals are either working or, when retired, spending time at home, with other retirees etc.; as health fails they may migrate to homes for extra care that they require and stay locked away in those buildings visited once in a while by family — sounds like a prison really.
At the same time, there seems to generally be a push for children to become well-rounded individuals, succeed in school and for adults to stay active in their communities to stay healthy. Volunteerism and social engagement are some of the fancier words for these foci.
In the push to help younger students a major tenant and idea seems to be mentoring the students for academic success and, perhaps, a positive role model overall. But, with how scheduled everyone seems to be, how do we make time for the mentorship to happen? What if the paring does not work out? If it is scheduled, is it really mentoring or simply teaching-lite? Think back to mentors in your life, was it really the scheduled ones that worked out or the organic, positive relationships that happened to be built with teachers, coaches or others? I assume the organic ones. Also, who has the most access to children for mentorship, positive role-models etc.—the parents. I suspect the most influential structured mentorships are those that also have parental support at home. Then there are all the programs out there that attempt to teach “life skills” in a classroom setting which seem to simply frustrate all involved.
With all of these sorts of programs out I should think that the problem(s) they are attempting to deal with would be solved already and not an issue, data points elsewhere. As do complaints about the younger generations being lazy, irresponsible, etc. etc. etc.
Next, places like the United States are generally seeing a health crisis of obesity, among other problems, not to mention this one and I am sure the internet is littered with other ones I have no clue about. So, we have children that do not have healthy relationships with adults or older individuals, parents who are disconnected from children, parents who are unhealthy and older individuals are are disconnected and unhealthy. Quite a tangled mess it seems.
Back to the mentorships, as I claimed, the organic ones are probably more effective (I have no data on it, just making an educated claim from personal experience and assumptions on human behavior). How are these organic mentorships supposed to happen when everyone is in their own little room of people their own age though, it seems that having walls between children and adults does a good job of preventing any positive relationships. People complain about programs being glorified babysitters while parents are doing other things, perhaps even going to the gym to be healthier as an individual while not being able to spend time with their child since the gym does not allow them in. Older adults, since they are not working, do not necessarily get out and about often meaning they lose health and connection, unless of course they also go to the gym, but that habit does not always stick with everyone. (Look at all the unused or barely used gym memberships)
Organizations are seeing fewer and fewer young people signing up to join them instead, those younger people are joining other groups or not engaging at all. I think part of this comes from the fact that these organizations, since they were geared towards “adults” have aged in the minds of those children who were not allowed in. At first, it was for adults and not for the children even if organizations like the Moose Lodge were family focused then, as those children grew up, those walls still existed and they never had positive associations with organizations of that sort and as such, felt no need to join and participate so, as membership ages out, younger ones are not coming in. Those positive associations that would lead to younger people joining are partially created by the unofficial mentoring that can happen in such places and that quality time with family that can happen.
Problem is, we have designed most of these cross-generation combinations out of life now. There is school, with each grade in it’s own room with it’s own teachers, after-school programs with their own staff/coaches/mentors, the places that children can go to hang out at and places where the adults can go to do their thing(s) and not many places where they all meet and interact. So, what if we redesigned our buildings to combine groups more often and started programs that were targeted towards all at once? For an example, people, where I am currently, tend to focus on high school sports. High schoolers play and the adults watch, why not have the high schoolers and adults play the sports together sometimes? Generally, the sport the parent(s) played seem to influence the decision the child(ren) make in the sport(s) they play. Basically, if the parents played basketball they probably in some way, help their child lean towards playing basketball too so they both have a similar skill set, one developing and another rusty. Why can they not play a game on their own with similar sets of parents and children? It would seem to fix the problems of disconnectedness and health at the same time. Also, help the kids have a small group of positive role models. Win-win-win all that has to happen is the community help provide the space to play the sport, conveniently in the summer, most high school gyms are not being used to intensively.
Not that these sorts of programs have to be high-school sports either. They could be say, darts, another seemingly popular past time in the winter here. The dart leagues tend to happen in bars though, thus preventing children from being able to participate. What if we started choosing family friendly public places to play darts and having teams composed of parents and their middle school children playing to spend time together and stay moving in the winter? Everyone would have something to keep themselves entertained, moving and open up the chance for time together, possibly in social places seeing declining use and membership meaning that those children would begin to have positive associations with those organizations and lead towards a higher potential of them becoming involved and staying in the organizations. Everybody wins!
Examples both real and thought experiments could continue forever probably. Just, what if we did start combining ages instead of silo-ing them? What would our world look like?
I think it would be a healthier world; mentally and physically.