Practices Supporting Sustained Learning

Practices Supporting Sustained Learning

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2271-3.ch003

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Lifelong Learning

Learning is a term that is frequently used in educational settingings and it is common to hear statements such as… students are here to learn, schools should help students learn, standardized tests are low because students are not learning. But what exactly is learning? How can lifelong learning be construed? The American heritage dictionary (1982) provides the following definition for lifelong and learning (p. 729):

  • 1.

    Life-Long: Continuing for a lifetime.

  • 2.

    Lifetime: A period of time during which an individual is alive.

  • 3.

    Learning: Instruction, education. Acquire wisdom, knowledge or skill

Lifelong Learning involves having a sustained learning commitment throughout a lifetime or period an individual is alive. Thus, lifelong learning is not limited to adults or the time a student has completed the compulsory education. Rather, lifelong learning is an ongoing learning process that is shaped and influenced by student’s experiences and opportunities. Adult learning, continuing education, and distance learning have sometimes been used to imply Lifelong Learning. However, this understanding limits lifelong learning to a particular group of peoples (i.e. adults) yet lifelong learning occurs throughout a lifetime. It is important not to confuse these terms and realize that adult learning, continuing education, and distance learning are programs that support lifelong learners. Lifelong Learning should not be a term used in describing education programs or learning after school or college or university (Bryce &Withers, 2003; Crick, 2005). Rather, lifelong learning is an education philosophy that supports a continuous self-sustained learning commitment by the young and the old in a lifetime.

Lifelong Learning (Bryce & Wither, 2003; Bash, 2003; Bartlett, 2003; Cricks, 2005; Fryer, 1997; Smith & Spurling, 1999) involves engaging people with learning throughout all stages of their lives. Lifelong learning at secondary school level as Bryce and Wither (2003) noted should be concerned with “keeping students engaged in learning, and developing in those students the characteristics that will make learning an integral and valued part of their lives when they leave school” (p. 8). Equipping students with skills and disposition that support lifelong learning is essential for student success throughout their lifetime.

Lifelong learning is not second chance education (Bryce & Wither, 2003) or job retraining education (Bash, 2003) and involves “more than a willingness to engage in continuing professional development” (Crick, 2005, p. 359). Lifelong learning is not learning for the sake of learning but an intentional learning activity where the drive to learn is initiated by the individual and not compelled by outside forces. Lifelong learning is a deliberate process that may be enhanced by learning opportunities and it is an intentional process to hone one’s skills and knowledge.

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