There’s a lot of research that seems to state the blindingly obvious but sometimes it is reassuring to discover that our innate beliefs are sound. Like having a local park improves your health or this piece from Concordia University published in the journal Family Relations that reminds us that families that play together are more cohesive. It’s true apparently even with adult grandchildren and their grandparents.
One aspect of the research that struck me was Hebblethwaite and Norris’s assertion that ‘grandparents often use such get-togethers as opportunities to teach, mentor and pass on legacies. “They share family histories, personal experiences and life lessons,” says Hebblethwaite. “They pass on family values, traditions and stressed the importance of family cohesion.”‘
It is quite an unfashionable position to suggest that we adults might learn from someone else (as opposed to with) but I think there is a basic truth to it in many circumstances. And it doesn’t contradict the assertion that adult learning is based on conversation. On the contrary, the fact that ‘playing together’ breaks down barriers, provides shared experiences and takes us out of the daily routine encourages dialogue in ways that are more relaxed than other equally worthwhile activities. Even collaborative jobs provide less coalescing potential because of the inherently serious and productive nature of ‘work.’
One of the unspoken objections to the idea of a ‘teacher’ is the suggestion of hierarchy in the relationship. Personally, I find it easy to accept a hierarchy associated with greater knowledge and experience; but only a fool of an expert would discount the possibility of discovering something new from less-learned others. The Concordia research flags the transactional nature of inter-generational leisure that makes the relationship balanced. Play is a catalyst for the grandparents too: the grandchildren receive family culture and philosophies while their elders are exposed to new ideas and technologies. It’s a winning combination.
But then we knew that, didn’t we?