Many people believe once they’ve earned all the degrees needed for their dream job, their learning days are over. This is a dangerous way to manage a career, because technologies and business models emerge and force change so rapidly.
The pace of change is accelerating, and to succeed in any industry, and to be ready to participate in the next evolution of it, professionals must adopt habits and practices that empower lifelong learning.
One challenge to lifelong learning is that many people assume they are not capable of it or not good at it. We tell ourselves, I’m not a math person. I don’t get code. Writing is not my strong suit. Remarks like this may mask a feeling that learning itself is beyond our grasp.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We can take control of our own learning with the right mindset — particularly what is called the “growth mindset,” which has had a big influence in K-12 education in recent years and should now be embraced in the business world.
Or, for perhaps one of the first times in recent memory, you could take a seven-week class on how to wield your own personal political power, influence Congress and the California Assembly.
“In today’s climate, more people are interested in how to influence public policy than probably I’ve seen in my entire lifetime,” said instructor Joel Blackwell of Corte Madera. “My passion is helping people to make a difference.”
Registration opens this week for community education offerings such as Blackwell’s course, which runs 6:10 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays starting Feb. 8 at the Kentfield campus ($116). It is designed to give students a guide on how to communicate with politicians on a human-to-human basis using handwritten letters, personal emails or one-on-one meetings. No Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, no general emails and no simple “vote yes, vote no” notices. Or angry diatribes.
“Our challenge is to guarantee the right to education, lifelong learning and wellbeing of more than 370.000 refugee children”, says education in emergencies expert, Henry Renna Gallano. He is one of 20 NORCAP deployees currently working in the Bangladesh refugee camps. “It is a tall order”, he admits.
Henry Renna Gallano sits in a classroom full of children in the new spontaneous sites in Kutupalong, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Most of the children here arrived in Bangladesh less than two weeks earlier, having escaped horrible conditions and human rights violations in Myanmar.
“The shelf life of any skill is getting shorter, so workers need to adopt lifelong learning as a habit, not as an occasional event,” said Rich Feller, counseling and career development professor at Colorado State University.
For many, the new year often brings into focus possibilities for a new career. Whether you’re changing paths or expanding your skill set, several trends can help guide you in the right direction.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal health care workers, systems engineers, nurses, and operational managers are among the jobs with the most growth possibilities.
Perhaps the best way to approach any career change is to acknowledge that demand shifts rapidly and to plan accordingly.
In his recent guest commentary, Mark Dorman of McGraw-Hill Education celebrated the idea that we are all “lifelong learners.” No one can disagree with that or with his plea for higher education institutions to develop innovative courses for adults throughout their careers.
But his focus solely on lifelong learning as a way to attain a better job and a more competitive economy is too common and wrong.
He misses an important point: Lifelong learning encompasses far more than retooling a workforce for better jobs. I should know. I am a retired 68-year-old and am looking forward to taking a full load of non-credit courses at Osher@Mizzou Lifelong Learning Institute this upcoming winter semester.
I have taken courses at Osher for the past four years. About 600 other older adults are also regulars here in Columbia. Judging from appearances, I think we range in age from the early 50s to early 90s.
We are a community of learners, taking short courses on everything from James Joyce’s ”Ulysses” to physics, Shakespeare and beading.
Some of us meet regularly to practice our Spanish on each other; others swap information about travel locations or take part in a diversity book club. In one of our academic years, more than 100 courses are offered.
I seriously doubt that anything Osher students have learned will end up contributing significantly to their net worth or enriching the local economy. Although some Osher students still work, most are retired. Yet we are all lifelong learners, and I believe that what we learn is as important to us as a new set of job-related skills are for younger adult learners. Individually, we develop our human, not our economic, potential. And in doing this, we add to mid-Missouri’s social capital.
Columbia has a well-deserved reputation as an education community where ignorance isn’t honored and where prejudice isn’t a cultural value. Whether through formal or informal methods, Columbians rely on organized education as a foundation for community values and individual growth.
Education is about the change that takes place in the minds of learners and its effects on their lives. For older adults who take courses at Osher, lifelong education is a way to keep our minds and spirits growing, despite our aging bodies.
New knowledge and new neural connections can flush out deep channels of mental habits, opening up new ways of thinking and new possibilities. We come to understand the present and the past, while preparing for the future.
During my career years as I sat in a desk on Friday afternoons, waiting for the weekend, I would never have guessed I would have another chance to study Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” I could never have imagined that I would be shivering on a cold night, balancing my camera on a tripod, learning to photograph the Milky Way, or learning from an experienced birder about migratory birds at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.
Money is a necessity, and education is usually a sure path to earning more of it. During the stages of life when earning more — or enough — money is a priority, educational institutions can, and should, as Dorman advocates, provide a range of options to adult students.
But don’t confuse that vocational education with lifelong learning. There’s a whole universe out there, and lifelong learning is the only way to explore it.
Today, Educare Flint begins its mission to change the way public education is defined nationwide. The 34,000-square-foot, $15-million facility boasts a parent center, theater, a resource room for teachers, play spaces, a STEM learning lab, and classrooms packed with age-appropriate learning toys for children to play and learn.
Built on the campus of Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School, Educare Flint is a modern building featuring sharp angles, rolling play areas and cartoonish playhouses. The purpose here is simple: To open even more doors.
“This school will define Flint as a national leader in early childhood education,” said Isaiah M. Oliver, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. “Study after study has shown the long-term benefits of early childhood education, but now—here in Flint, Michigan—we are working to fundamentally change the way we define public education so that we can give the best opportunities to all kids.
“We owe Flint kids a fair shot and quality early childhood education is the first step for this group of Flint kids.”
The funding and the massive collaborative effort developed in the wake of the Flint Water Crisis. In 2014-15 improperly treated and monitored water caused lead to leech from the city’s pipes and increased levels of lead in the city’s water. Lead exposure can be harmful to young children whose brains are developing—and early childhood education is widely promoted as a way to combat the effects of lead exposure.
Shortly after a study showed lead levels increasing, the city switched its water source and pipe replacement is ongoing in the city.
Agencies throughout the city came together in the wake of the crisis to coordinate response efforts and develop short- and long-term strategies while still also trying to determine additional possible impacts for city residents.
Construction of Educare Flint was funded largely by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation—which pledged up to $100 million to helping the city recover from the water crisis. More than 60 percent of those grants so far have gone toward education initiatives, including at least $11 million to build Educare Flint.
Ridgway White, president of the Mott Foundation, said the foundation continues to be guided today, as it was more than 90 years ago when his great-grandfather established it, by a commitment to the Flint community and to education.
Mott is one of a broad network of partners participating in the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative, which also includes the Community Foundation of Greater Flint., University of Michigan-Flint, Genesee Intermediate School District, Flint Community Schools, and the state of Michigan.
Educare Flint will enroll 220 children between 2 months and 5 years and is in addition to the Great Expectations early childhood education centers at Cummings and Brownell-Holmes schools in the Flint School District.
Educare Flint serves more than just the students. Through a unique two-generational approach, it also will serve parents—providing them with education, job training, and resources to lift the well-being of the entire family.
The adult program will include three tiers to provide different educational options—from more casual financial literacy, gardening and nutrition classes to a more intense small group cohort that will focus on learning a specific skill or earn a specific certification.
December 4, 2017 by Peter Rule, The Conversation
Change, often rapid and disorienting, is today’s norm. Even things our grandparents took for granted – manual typewriters, telegrams, smelling salts, corsets – have disappeared into antique shops and museums. We change jobs and even careers many times in one lifetime. We travel more. It seems like we adapt to new technologies almost weekly.
What hasn’t changed is that human beings need to learn so they can adapt and thrive in new circumstances. Is this possible for older people?
It’s common knowledge that children are voracious learners but the famous cliche suggests that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This simply isn’t true.
As research conducted by my colleagues and I has shown, learning is a lifelong process. It’s also life-wide: we learn in all kinds of situations besides schools and colleges – in our families, workplaces, communities and through leisure activities. And it’s life-deep: it’s about emotions, morality, cultural and spiritual development, not just the intellect.
Here’s what you need to know to continue on your own lifelong learning process, and to encourage others around you to keep learning.
What older people have going for them
Ageing brings a slight deterioration in functions like short-term memory. But it has the advantage of accumulated experience. This means you know what you want to learn and how you want to apply it, and can link it to experience and concepts you’ve already acquired. Children at school typically learn a prescribed curriculum for future application. Adults tend to choose their learning and want it to count here and now.
Learning as an adult is not easy. You have to admit what you don’t know. Sometimes past learning experiences have been negative and associated with feelings of fear and failure. And adults have multiple responsibilities: work, family, social involvements and ageing parents, to name a few. Learning means negotiating these commitments and your own feelings. When you decide to embark on new studies, it’s important to let those around you know; explain how it will change things and enlist their support.
It’s also good to learn with others so that you can share the challenges and triumphs. Isolation can drive people away from learning at any stage of their lives. Study groups and learning partners, whether online, face-to-face or both, can be a great way of deepening and sustaining learning.
What and where
But what, and where, should you study? Firstly, it’s important to realise that not all, or even most, learning is formal. There’s an enormous modern emphasis on educational institutions, which for the masses is generally only a few hundred years old. And so the ways that humans have always learnt are often taken for granted.
We often learn the most important things informally from others and from experience: how to parent, how to get on with our neighbours, how to surf the Internet, where to find a job; and, perhaps most importantly, how to direct our own learning. Developing social capital – networks of friends, mentors, advisers, instructors – is as important for learning as it’s ever been.
These networks also allow us to connect with people whose voices we don’t usually hear; that helps us to avoid ghettoising our own minds and opens up new opportunities for thought and action.
Learning is a lifelong endeavor.
Though it goes by many names, we are all constantly learning. This learning can be through traditional classes or just by paying attention to your surroundings. One of the reasons that cooperative Extension was developed a little over 100 years ago was to provide educational opportunities to everyone.
Rockwall Independent School District held community education summits on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of the district. The purpose of the summits is to get input on what children should be able to know and do when they graduate. The district wants to make sure all of its children are prepared to succeed as they move on to college, technical schools and the workforce.
The summits were held at both Rockwall High School and Rockwall-Heath High School. The district explained the “why” behind strategic design and gave a history of the American education system, before doing a series of interactive activities.
Attendees worked together in groups to answer questions and shared with the audience. The questions included:
What are your highest hopes for your children as a result of their time in school?
In the context of the 21st century, what are the most important skills for children to possess in order to thrive?
What consistent behaviors do children need to engage in to be prepared for their futures?
What are the skills teachers need to prepare children for their futures?
What systems need to change to prepare children for their futures?
What behaviors should Rockwall ISD staff be engaged in to ensure we prepare children for their future?
The summit also featured a video from local high school students who spoke on what they’d like to see in the district’s future.