Masters and Apprentices
The Masters and Apprentices project has created a simple but revolutionary model for the transmission of intangible heritage skills between present and future generations throughout Finland. The project brings children, young people and older generations together on equal terms, to collaborate on shared activities around cultural heritage. All participants, young and older alike, are both masters and apprentices, as experts in their local heritage with valuable skills to share. The project, which has reformed intergenerational cultural heritage work in the country, was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Masters and Apprentices was carefully planned, with two pilot projects informing the design of the final project model. All participants, including the school-age children (aged 6-18) and the senior citizens aged over 60, met regularly to plan and implement the activities on an equal basis. Local heritage and neighbourhood associations, local museums, municipalities and third sector actors around Finland continue to implement the project’s activities, which are coordinated by the Finnish Local Heritage Federation. Some 680 children, young people and senior citizens enthusiastically participated in the first stage of the project. So far, activities have been implemented or planned in almost all regions in Finland.
The project has successfully reduced intergenerational bias and enhanced interaction between generations to ensure the continuity of local heritage work. Masters and Apprentices is also an outstanding model for creating safe relationship networks and mutual understanding between immigrant children and the local community.
The activities have shown that different generations have a lot to offer each other. People of all ages said that the activities improved their quality of life. Older participants learned more about young people’s interests, and their way of perceiving the world and the digital tools they use. Participating in the project also reduced their feelings of loneliness and encouraged integration into local communities.
This project succeeded in increasing young people’s understanding of their local region and its history, in turn committing them to local heritage work and helping them realise its importance. The long-term aim is to ensure that the voluntary work often done by older generations continues.
“The intergenerational and shared learning aspects of Masters and Apprentices are particularly noteworthy. We greatly appreciate that the topics chosen for the activities were firmly rooted in what mattered to the community and that the activities were co-created. Based on a strong methodology and with a flexible approach to the projects undertaken, this project could be replicated quite readily, making it relevant to communities throughout Europe”, emphasised the Awards’ Jury.