It has always been the goal of education to provide competence and learning on individuals. However, for it to remain its lasting mark on individuals, it must continue to evolve and transcend to the realities of life. It must remain adaptive to the current environment and seek to supplement both intrinsic and extrinsic values associated in the process. By allowing such process to occur, individuals benefit from the ability of education to encompass and stimulate the avenues for lifelong learning to occur and grow.
Before understanding the impact of lifelong learning in education, it is necessary to elaborate and point out its definition. This is relevant to establish the parameters on how it applies to the field mentioned. On this note, the idea of lifelong learning can be analyzed in its ability to its ability to cultivate and supplement the intrinsic goals of an individual. Such tenet leads to the formulation that it provides individuals “to work consciously at extending their intellectual, vocational, and personal horizons by seeking to understand and grasp some of the more significant advances of recent times, that have done so much to affect their worlds” (Chapman et. al., 2004, p.10).
Operating on the area of education, this definition revolves around the ability of the term to harness and seek improvements in the way information and competency is facilitated to individuals (Sutherland and Crowther, p.65). It encompasses the level of expertise of the subject matter and takes into consideration the experience gained as a process of continued growth and development. With such framework, it can be seen that “lifelong learning is a way of framing and concretizing this multiplicity and diversity, even whilst at the same time contributing to it” (Sutherland and Crowther, 2006, p.62). It is through this analogy that its ability can be seen as an initiative towards permanence and a revolving cycle.
In seeking to further understand the relevance of the idea towards education, there are several thinkers who have presented their view concerning the topic and how it affects the creation of lifelong learning. The next section shall deal with the ideas advocated by Chris Agryris, Martin Buber, and Basil Yeaxlee and Eduard Lindeman. These authors’ works have been influential in the creation of further understanding of the concepts relevance and how it can be applied to individuals.
The paper shall focus on the single-loop and double-loop learning in Chris Agryris framework. The overall scope of this idea is how change can lead to learning and what parameters can this alteration induce change. Under the single-loop learning, it revolves around the ability of the organization to ability of an organization/institution “to carry on its present policies or achieve its present objectives” (Smith, 2001, p.1). Seeing this, the overall agenda in this process is to refine and reestablish actions without trying to change the rules, values and objectives it seeks to promote.
On the other hand, the double-loop learning allows the modification and changes of not only the techniques used for practice but also on finding new alternatives for its values and standards. It tries to look into “sorts of organizational inquiry which resolve incompatible organizational norms by setting new priorities and weightings of norms, or by restructuring the norms themselves together with associated strategies and assumptions” (Argyris and Schön 1978 p.18)
Looking at these two principles, it can be argued that Argyris tries to connect the value of these tenets in the ability of an individual to decipher his/her relevance in the construction towards organizational learning. In this process, “for organizational learning to occur, ‘learning agents’, discoveries, inventions, and evaluations must be embedded in organizational memory’” (Argyris and Schön 1978 p.19). Such outcome then enables both the individual and organization to actively take a role in the creation of changes that is necessary for growth and development.
Relating this to the concept of lifelong learning, these two tenets signify the ability of learning to be adaptive to its environment. As each one tries to find the solutions to the challenges and obstacles they are facing, it leads to experiences and understanding of what needs to be done. It allows each one to decipher what roads to take and what can make such actions convey its significance and worth (Connexin, p.1).
Another theory that represents such idea involves the insights of Martin Buber in education, specifically on the concept of dialogue and encounter. In this context, Buber outlines the relationship and relevance of these two thoughts towards learning. As far as encounter is concerned, Buber argues that this allows individuals to acquire information and learn from the processes associated with it. These actions that takes place between two individual and attempts to create communication in different forms is what encounter should be (Hodes, 1973, p.72).
To further supplement the experience brought about by encounter, Buber asserts that it can be intensified via dialogue. Under this tenet, there are two types of dialogue that Buber tries to distinguish; genuine and technical. For genuine dialogue to occur, there must be a scenario wherein “no matter whether spoken or silent – where each of the participants really has in mind the other or others in their present and particular being and turns to them with the intention of establishing a living mutual relation” (Buber, 1947, p.19). On the other hand, the term technical dialogue refers to the ability of individuals to engage in a different mode of conversation without any intention of creating a deeper understanding of each other (Smith, p.1).
Linking this to the idea of lifelong learning, Buber asserts the relevance of creating dimensions for dialogue and encounter. He believes that to create a community, there needs to be a sense of natural element in the act. “The real teacher, he believed, teaches most successfully when he is not consciously trying to teach at all, but when he acts spontaneously out of his own life” (Smith, 2001, p.1). Such action then contributes to the realization of what really matters most in life. This is one way to gain professional development; the ability to synthesize the natural elements and experiences and effectively reach out to the needs of the community.
Lastly, the perspective Yeaxlee and Lindeman tried to link and relate the idea of education with life. They argued that the constant pursuit and challenges surrounding life revolves around the constant learning experiences obtained in the process and thus goes to show that education as a principle has no endings (Smith, p.1). At the same time, the authors try to point out such relationship to the creation of a lifelong education. Under this principle, the two argued that there are three features that denote such term. They include “(1) affects and build upon all existing educational institutions, (2) goes beyond the learning activity as well as institutions and agencies that are involved in it, and (3) applies to the ability of each one to place direction in their actions and goals” (Smith, 2001, p.1).
At the same time, the two scholars try to distinguish the differences between adult education and adult learning. This is an important notion to consider because individuals continue to use these two ideas interchangeably without carefully considering its relevance and meaning. It is in here that they argued the relationship between the two ideas and how they differ in terms of scope and application. “One way to approach this is to view learning, as a cognitive process internal to the learner, that can occur ‘both incidentally and in planned educational activities’, while, ‘it is only the planned activities we call education” (Smith, 2001, p.1).
The arguments presented create a link in the ability of lifelong learning to go beyond the parameters of education. Rather than concentrating on the ideas of the overall structure, the term induces the individual experiences and capabilities to harness the needed outcomes of familiarization and better understanding of things (Abelson, p.1). Such framework and dynamics necessitates its capability to transcend over ways to gain insights and learn from the process.
Overall, the three theories presented, it clearly cultivates the idea of lifelong learning by elaborating on its tenets and identifies its ability to use dialogue, interaction, and collaboration with the other to gain familiar insights on areas that truly matter. Bromley and Ehrenreich (2001) “life long learning involves more than simply taking the classes required one year to the next and differs from the knowledge gained through work-related trainings” (p.73). Rather, it is a composition and myriad of experiences that continuously guides us in gaining appreciation and comprehension of the things and realities happening around us.
Applying this in my own personal experience, it is true that my common notion of education and learning remains to be the same. I oftentimes mistakenly associate the two together without further analysis and study. However, after understanding fully the relevance and differences between the two, I came to decipher my weaknesses as an educator and in what areas I need to concentrate on to further improve my capability to continuously address the needs of my students.
Take for example being open minded about issues that I do not know. I do not confide myself to my current knowledge. As an educator, I must seek to be flexible in the areas I need to work on to. It is in here that I realized that being an educator may have a tenure and ending, but my pursuit for learning new things that may or may not be my interest continues to happen. That is why I sought to enhance my capabilities by taking further education and continuously attending seminars. At the same time I always sought for ways to gain experience by interacting with my students. I feel that this is my way of adjusting to the trends in the environment by seeking to improve and adhere to the changes.
Relating my experiences to the argument of Buber, I feel that to actively impart learning among students, I must establish a connection between myself and the students. It must come in a natural phase and must not force myself to these individuals. By allowing myself to be immersed in a natural dialogue between my pupils, I can actively impart something more than the books or examinations can bring; I can give in them the feeling of identity and appreciation of their worth both as an individual and a participant in the classroom.
To conclude, the idea of lifelong learning revolves around the holistic undertaking of an individual to understand the things happening around him. These are supplemented by combination of experiences, dialogue and encounter which shape our own grasp of things. Given the three approaches, it took into consideration the ability of these tenets not only to expand on the idea of lifelong learning but also create and establish a link towards the education and learning.
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