An old proverb said, Jonathan doesn’t know what Jon didn’t learn, In today’s information age, this statement can be reworded – both Jon and Jonathan participate in lifelong learning. Both of them are learning, only that the pace of acquiring knowledge and their interests are different. One is discovering the world and the other is trying to somehow comprehend the world. The world is changing at such a rate that learning and improving oneself has become a lifestyle. Only the focus of learning is somewhat different in each period of life.
Is it the return of the education buzzwords: holistic learning? Is going away from vocational learning to “learning as a human right” what the world needs at this moment?
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) has published a new report setting out a future-focused vision of education and demanding a major shift towards a culture of lifelong learning by 2050.
Embracing a culture of lifelong learning, UIL’s contribution to the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education, argues that creating a global culture of lifelong learning will be key to addressing the challenges faced by humanity, from the climate crisis to technological and demographic change, not to mention those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it has exacerbated.
It calls on the international community to recognize lifelong learning as a new human right.
UIL Director David Atchoarena explains: “We are emerging from a period characterized by an excessive focus on the vocational and skills dimensions of lifelong learning. Recognizing the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of the challenges faced by humanity calls for the restoration of a holistic vision of learning throughout life”.
Looking to the future, the report sets out 10 key messages, each critical for creating a culture of lifelong learning:
- Recognize the holistic character of lifelong learning
- Promote transdisciplinary research and intersectoral collaboration for lifelong learning
- Place vulnerable groups at the core of the lifelong learning agenda
- Establish lifelong learning as a common good
- Ensure greater and equitable access to learning technology
- Transform schools and universities into lifelong learning institutions
- Recognize and promote the collective dimension of learning
- Encourage and support local lifelong learning initiatives, including learning cities
- Reengineer and revitalize workplace learning
- Recognize lifelong learning as a human right
How do you make lifelong learning classes safe as well as fun?
By having a ‘distanced’ dance class, according to LLI Director Larry Wilson at Hot Springs Village.
“It’s been something Villagers have requested from LLI because dancing is a great way to keep moving and have a good time. We were lucky to get Jennifer as an instructor.”
It is a truism that even the best universities in the world cannot accurately predict the skills that will be needed in the workplace 10 years from now, let alone 100 years, hence the importance of teaching university students how to learn, something also referred to as metacognition.
Lifelong learning refers to holistic learning for life and work. It comprises a number of pillars of learning including: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, learning to be, learning to earn, and learning how to learn.
Learning how to learn is what universities in Africa need to teach, for this will ensure that when learners are confronted with unique and complex problems, they have the capability to learn, unlearn and re-learn how to address complex problems, as pointed out by Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced many schools and classes to switch how they reach learners. That has impacted revenue, naturally. But there have been benefits, according to Director Craig Hall.
“It’s safe to say that coronavirus has presented the greatest challenge that we’ve faced as a program, with our self-supporting status,” Hall said. “But it hasn’t’ slowed us down in terms of creativity or resolve. I think this whole experience will make the program smarter, stronger, and more nimble.”
The summer children’s program run by LCE, Lexplorations, was fully booked when the pandemic hit Lexington, Hall said. In a few short weeks, LCE staff reimagined Lexporations for a socially-distanced world, translating everything to an online format. While there were families that requested refunds, the camp was a success, Hall said.
Many Lexplorations teachers are also teachers in Lexington schools, he added, and they had already gotten a taste of remote learning at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. A small adult education term was offered over the summer as well, which is not something LCE has done before.
Oxford tells us what many of us already know:
Learning for professionals is an ongoing process. They work in an era of changing laws and procedures that drive their need and desire to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. Lifelong learning can benefit professionals, the organizations in which they work, and the clients they serve. This chapter explores continuing education requirements to maintain licenses of certification, as well as the desire for lifelong learning among professionals from a variety of industries. Suggestions for developing and providing learning experiences are presented. While it is evident that professionals need to continue their learning, the content areas as well as learning options are continuously being reviewed by accrediting organizations. Various ways of obtaining continuing education credits are presented as well as trends in training modalities.
Lifelong Learning is NOT just for the young.
“In academia, we often apply the term “lifelong learner” to mature or non-traditional students, but all students should reframe their higher education experience to include explorative, self-directed and self-initiated learning in order to satisfy their interests and remain engaged with learning.
Lifelong learning is self-initiated and self-directed education focused on personal development and fulfillment. Lifelong learning can be formal or informal and occurs within and outside of educational institutions. Lifelong learning happens on a daily basis, through formal education, socialization, trial and error, and/or self-initiated study, and is based on our natural interests, curiosity and personal motivations. The desire to learn must come from ourselves, not someone else. Lifelong learning is ongoing, occurring throughout one’s lifetime.”
Student Growth and Lifelong Learning: It’s Just Not for the “Mature”
Over a very short period of time, Covid-19 has helped business and education to replace and complement physical face-to-face channels by digital and online ones. This radical change also opened the way for more and better lifelong learning—via e-learning platforms.
Once again, Lifelong Learning is the silver lining in the COVID clouds…
Called “the perfect fit for OLLI,” OLLI member Diane Senerth has revived an 18th century conversation club and brought it to the 21st century for lifelong learning.
Last fall, the University of Delaware’s Wilmington-based Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) became the first OLLI program in the country to start a Ben Franklin Circle discussion group, modeled after Benjamin Franklin’s 18th century conversation club focused on civility and mutual self-improvement.
The 21st-century version was founded at New York City’s 92nd Street Y, and now boasts over 300 chapters across the U.S.
OLLI member Diane Senerth read about Ben Franklin Circles in a New Yorker article and immediately thought of her fellow lifelong learners. The Ben Franklin Circle Discussion Group at OLLI began meeting as an extracurricular activity in 2019 and continued in 2020 on its path of exploration and discussion of Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues of temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, chastity, tranquility and humility.
Read more: https://www.udel.edu/udaily/2020/july/osher-olli-ben-franklin-circle/
One silver lining in the pandemic response is that it proved the validity of using digital platforms to continue learning. This will continue to influence the way education is disseminated, according to Jane Morrison-Ross of The Scotsman.
She lays out the impact it will have on teaching and learning for generations to come: https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/columnists/jane-morrison-ross-digital-success-offers-opportunity-launch-lifelong-learning-revolution-2924232