Lifelong Learning in Knowledge Society

Lifelong Learning in Knowledge Society

Neeta Baporikar (HP-GSB, Namibia & University of Pune, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9455-2.ch012
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Education focus is shifting from “teaching” to “learning” today. Faculty roles are changing from lecturing to primarily “designers of learning methods and environments” (Fink 2003). Brookfield (1985) argues that teachers' role is to “facilitate” the acquisition of knowledge, not “transmit” it. NRC (2000) recommends that the goal of education shift from an emphasis on comprehensive coverage of subject matter to helping students develop their own intellectual tools and learning strategies. If you ask most teachers what is the greatest gift that they could give their students, today, most will answer “the desire and skills for lifelong learning.” It's not that it isn't important to learn some facts while in college; these will likely be necessary for future employment, but more important though is having the skill to learn on one's own after leaving college. The chapter revolves around this single, most-important skill which will empower for a lifetime. So, how it should be one of highest priorities especially in knowledge society forms the core of this chapter.
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There have been calls for new kinds of learning from many different parts of society (Fink 2003). College teachers have expressed frustration about attendance in class, uncompleted reading assignments, and student focus on grades rather than learning. Student surveys indicate that courses are not interesting, that students fail to recognize the value of what they are learning, and that many faculty rely too heavily on lectures for transmitting information. Recognizing the need for greater accountability by our public schools systems, a significant number of state legislatures have begun to link appropriations to performance. A number of national organizations have also called for change. An Association of American Colleges report in 1985 recommended that the central theme of any curriculum should be to teach students “how to learn.” Surveys of professional organizations indicate that besides specific competencies and skills, today’s employers seek workers with people skills (e.g., teamwork, communication, leadership) along with a desire and ability for lifelong learning. The 1996 National Science Foundation report on Shaping the Future (of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education) urges faculty to promote new kinds of learning that include developing skills in communication, teamwork, and lifelong learning. Gardiner (1994) compiled a list of “critical competencies” for citizens and workers from leaders in business, industry and government:

  • Personal responsibility,

  • Ability to act in principled, ethical fashion,

  • Skill in oral and written communication,

  • Interpersonal and team skills,

  • Skills in critical thinking and problem-solving,

  • Respect for people different from oneself,

  • Ability to change,

  • Ability and desire for lifelong learning.

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