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Susan V. Bosak TEDx Talk – Building a 7-Generation World
What is a 7-Generation World?

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YOU 177 Youth/Schools
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YOU 177 Youth/Schools
Dream Bigger, Create Legacy

YOU 177 is a big-picture journey from dreams to legacy that takes students to a new mental place – and amazing things start growing.

Grounded in two decades of research, it's about a dynamic 7-Generation World that empowers students through meaningful intergenerational connections to achieve more and be more.

This is one of the most important journeys you'll ever take. It will not only inspire students, but also teachers, parents, grandparents and your whole community. It's not a program or curriculum or "one more thing to do." It's an exciting way to do what you're doing bigger and better.

Places of Possibility

Places of Possibility

Take a journey to a new kind of learning in which schools are big-picture places of possibility. In fact, schools and other youth-serving organizations can become places of possibility for all ages and abilities.

Using a flexible 7-Generation framework, schools serve as intergenerational innovation hubs for whole-community benefit.

YOU 177 builds student thinking and life skills as it supports academic achievement in a broad 21st century context. It gives students an intergenerational support system; helps reduce dropout rates, alienation, and bullying; re-energizes teachers; and mobilizes the active participation of parents, grandparents, and community neighbors.

Developed through two decades of research and field experience, YOU 177 is unlike anything you've done before. It's big, but in a good way. Big makes more possible, opens more opportunities for what really matters.

YOU 177 isn't about doing something new as much as it's about reframing and expanding what you're already doing to make it more effective. YOU 177 puts learning into a powerful big-picture context – the whole of lives across generations in a multilayered, interconnected world.

Meaning and Connection

Lifelong Intergenerational Learning with Meaning and Connection

Do you know what research tells us students, teachers, and parents want most from learning? Meaning and connection.

Young people themselves report that they don't want learning made easy – they want it to mean something. That's when they internalize it. They want to be engaged, provoked, moved, inspired, and they want to make a difference in things that matter to them and in the world. They are ready to dream bigger.

Evidence and sentiment are mounting that rather than test scores, better predictors of student success are engagement and hope. We know the power of project-based learning rooted in the real world, and students agree.

Personal and academic growth happens when students find meaning in what they're learning, in the context of their present and future, and their community and world.

Which brings us to connection. Students need real connections to the real world and to their community. Research indicates that young people need 4-6 involved, caring adults to fully develop emotionally and socially. They need genuine interest from adults in who they are and what matters to them. Commented one student, "If the adults around me don't care, why should I care?" Meaningful intergenerational connections are often the difference that can make the difference.

We know that more children and youth are experiencing mental health issues, feeling stress and a lack of hope, and struggling to find a place in the economic and social fabric of society (since jobs are so closely tied to a sense of self and wellbeing). There are also ongoing efforts to improve academic achievement and graduation rates.

A 2015 study done by the University of British Columbia found that children's connection with adults plays a greater role in their sense of wellbeing than the socioeconomic status of their family. Lead author Dr. Anne Gadermann concludes, "Our findings underline the importance of positive social relationships with adults."

Dr. Jean Clinton, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University and a former Strategic Advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Education, highlights research showing that "the nutrition of the brain is relationship" and that "a sense of belonging eliminates toxic stress." Children learn best in environments that focus on caring relationships.

While collaboration between students is important, when students collaborate with adults and elders, the dialogue goes deeper.

And connecting with elders, in particular, can teach children and youth the important social skills we may be losing as we engage more with technology and social media.

YOU 177 brings meaning and connection into classrooms to enhance deep learning, whatever the content.

YOU 177 is Evidence-Based

YOU 177 is Evidence-Based

We take a systems approach influenced by academic research in life course, behavioral psychology, neuroscience, lifelong learning, intergenerational relationships, health, community building, systems design, history, and ecology.

YOU 177 integrates the important education work of Carol Dweck; Michael Fullan; Shane Lopez; David Yeager; John Holt; James Stigler and James Hiebert; Roland S. Barth; Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel; The Intergenerational School; and The Intergenerational Center at Temple University.

We're happy to provide more details on the evidence base for the 7-Generation work.

Dream Bigger, Create Legacy.

Discover Your Pathway

YOU 177 Youth/Schools Pathway

YOU 177 is a journey from dreams to legacy. That means expanding what you believe is possible and focusing on what really matters. It means seeing things in new ways and making new connections.

The award-winning book Dream is a tool that inspires all ages and provides the first stepping stones for your YOU 177 journey. You can choose to use a dream theme for your school year. We have a number of examples of cross-curricular literacy and goal-setting activities. An important step in the journey is students, teachers, parents/grandparents and other local elders creating and discussing Dream Stars that share the dreams of all ages. In these connections across generations lies a powerful catalyst for bigger thinking. Intergenerational activity and event ideas, including the annual Listen to a Life Contest, can start to build authentic community intergenerational connections.

The precise pathway and pace of the journey is different for different schools and learners. We work closely with you to evolve your path as an intergenerational innovation hub for whole-community benefit.

In the words of Dr. Nancy Henkin, Founder and former Executive Director of Temple University's Intergenerational Center in Philadelphia, "Success means more than plopping 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds together in a room. You can't throw people into a setting and expect magic to happen. The programs can't just be older people teaching kids how to read, or kids teaching older people technology. That is one level and that's good. But we need to go deeper and develop programs that in the long run help kids and older adults understand the needs and the strengths of the other person."


We take an Elders-in-Residence approach. The 7-Generation work draws on an Indigenous concept. In Indigenous cultures, elders are valued; they are an integral part of the community. So our goal is to make elders an integral part of the school community. This is effective from preschool to university levels. For example, many universities now have Elders-in-Residence. While they support Indigenous student learning, they are also available to all students as a "grandparent." Students feel a greater sense of community and belonging. In addition, Elders-in-Residence offer advice to the university itself.

In the context of YOU 177, Elders-in-Residence become part of an elementary or high school community. Older adults of all abilities may participate in classes with students, curl up on a couch reading with children in a "grandma room," or are partners in the computer lab. The idea is to go beyond a "program" and encourage real, caring relationships.

Elders and students may ultimately also work on legacy projects together. Legacy projects aren't "projects" in the ordinary sense. Legacy projects are the building blocks of a new 7-Generation World, calling on intergenerational intellect, empathy, and creativity.

We work closely with Dr. Peter Whitehouse, Co-Founder of The Intergenerational School (TIS) in Cleveland, OH. TIS received the 2014 Eisner Prize. At TIS, students are grouped by age clusters rather than grade, and elders (even those with cognitive or physical limitations) are woven into the fabric of the school day such that young and old learn from and with each other across the curriculum. The public charter school is connected by a walkway to a seniors housing complex. Research conducted on the school has shown that students have higher levels of academic achievement, higher graduation rates, as well as better behavioural and social skills.

Elders-in-Residence is founded on a simple premise: every child needs an elder.

Dream Bigger, Create Legacy. Join us on the leading edge of education innovation. Contact the Legacy Project at 1-800-772-7765 or e-mail us. For updates on YOU 177, follow the Legacy Project on Twitter and sign up for our e-newsletter.

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