Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lifelong learning

I am in the process of writing a literature review on "informal personal online learning networks". I decided that lifelong learning will be a central idea in this review and began reading 'The concepts and practices of lifelong learning'.

I realised that I had a very narrow view of the concept and there are elements that I have never entertained. Some ideas I am grappling with at the moment are:

  • Lifelong learning can be thought of as elitist. The concept is that the individual will drive their own education and access opportunities but not that the government will provide those opportunities (as opposed to the policy of lifelong education). If this is the case then only those people who can gain access through their economic or social position will have access to quality lifelong learning. This brings up the whole question of equality.
  • Lifelong learning can be linked with social control. If you accept the notion of lifelong learning then people accept they must adapt and change. This clouds out the other issue of questioning the direction of the change. Deleuze says that one of the features of societies of control is the idea of perpetual learning.
  • Lifelong learning is essential in the 21st century because of the changing learning society spurred on by changes in science and technology.
I still see the value in lifelong learning and think that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the equity issue. Maybe if we face this issue then the issue of power and control can be addressed also as people learn to evaluate and question change before adapting it.

This has really made me think about the fact that this concept 'lifelong learning' needs to be understood in detail before being claimed to be of benefit for our students or ourselves. I am a lifelong learner and I embrace the concept more now that I have begun to explore what it means, the inherent pitfalls and the opportunities for making the concept of value for all, not just the select few.

These are my initial musings. I am just starting to explore this issue, I am sure many more ideas will come to light so I reserve the right for this post to be seen as my grappling with ideas not making black and white statements. :)

1 comment:

Elaine said...

Hi Jane, I have also been musing on the notion of 'lifelong learners' and how it has come to be so deeply embedded into our parlance as something that is 'owned' by educationalists. Through our lives as we adapt to new and challenging situations, are we not all 'lifelong learners' anyway? Ideas of lifelong learning as social control ring an interesting bell - I shall head off and get a copy of the book! Look forward to interesting discussion next time we meet.