Paper presented in Lapland, Finland

Dr. Susan O’Neill presented a paper at the World Alliance for Arts Education – WAAE Summit 2012. The conference took place from 7-10 November at the University of Lapland, Finland – Located in the city of Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle.

There is something very special about places that exist in the margins and on the exterior borders of our world. They are places where one is continuously reminded of nature and the need to ensure sustainability for all our futures. This notion of caring for and passing on to the next generation was a theme in Dr. O’Neill’s paper, which focused on a pilot intergenerational arts project conducted with academic, municipal, school, labour, and community partners.

The research is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant, with Principle Investigator Dr. Peter Hall (Urban Studies, SFU). For further information on the project see:

Creating Expansive Learning Opportunities Through Intergenerational Arts Programs
Susan O’Neill, Simon Fraser University

Schools as institutions have been slow to encourage collaboration across generations that cultivate expansive learning opportunities or cultural diversity education about issues that matter in the local community. Expansive learning is a key component of multidimensional transformative pedagogies and emergent or “lived” curricula approaches that foster learning through relationship building, student-centred activity, and creative collaborations. Traditional learning theories often fail to take into account the fluid and changing nature of knowledge as it is situated in cultural ecologies with temporal, spatial, and relational dimensions. In fostering artistic and cultural competencies, knowledge is learned as it is being created. This shifts the focus from acquisition-based, individual artistic expressions and community involvement to transformative approaches that encourage positive development and expansive learning that is situated within relationships between generations. These approaches emphasize cyclical rather than linear approaches to arts education through creative collaborations, inquiry, dialogue and reflection. These skills build on the foundation of traditional school curriculum and provide expansive opportunities for learning, relationship building, meaning making, and communication. They also foster cultural competencies for understanding changes in local and global landscapes. In exploring these ideas, I will present findings from an intergenerational arts program that is situated within a community partnership and knowledge mobilization framework involving children, teachers, artists, parents, elders, and researchers. The study explores collaborative pedagogical narration and the constituents and challenges of intergenerational, multimodal artistic inquiry curricula and ways to foster creative collaborations across generations so as to cultivate expansive learning opportunities across arts areas.