Making Sense of Lifelong Learning: Respecting the Needs of All

Making Sense of Lifelong Learning: Respecting the Needs of All

Making Sense of Lifelong Learning: Respecting the Needs of All

Making Sense of Lifelong Learning: Respecting the Needs of All


Making Sense of Lifelong Learning looks beyond the rhetoric about lifelong learning (LLL), and asks long overdue questions such as, Who is actually in need of LLL? What are the motives of institutions, employers and the Government in promoting LLL? and, Who says what is and what is not LLL? In the context of the previous government attempts to enhance the economic strength of the country, the author also makes suggestions as to what might be done to encourage wider participation in LLL, particularly with regard to the increasing economic and social gaps in today's society. The considerable demographic changes to the workplace have affected the entire population, and yet employers, the government and the individual all have very different expectations from LLL. It is this previously unchallenged 'mismatch' that is one of the central themes to the book.


When a friend heard that I was trying to write this book, he asked whether I was going to look again at Post Education Society which I wrote in 1984. He believed its theme might be a useful background to whatever I had to say. So I looked at it. Its subtitle was Recognising Adults as Learners.

'Motivation is the key to all learning', I read. This is so obvious that I wondered why I ever wrote it. But then 'If we need to know something we are likely to learn it. However if we are capable of learning, it is not only a consequence of intelligence and training but of our level of personal development.' That is not quite so obvious.

Transposed to society, the theme was that if we managed to recognise adults as learners because they needed to know something, then we needed adult institutions to serve them. And the consequence of this was that institutions of all kinds, not merely educational ones, needed to grow into adulthood in the latter part of the twentieth century leaving their nineteenth-century adolescence behind them. Here I am trying to take the argument further and in the context of lifelong learning.

In summary the argument is that lifelong learning may be seen as an elaborate game of catch-up. In so many ways where we are is not where we ought to be. Policies that are intended to enable us to get to where we ought to be do not seem to be getting us there. It is almost as if the best efforts result in our running to stay where we are. When combined, the themes of the book are attempts to suggest how the idea of catch-up from behind could become caught up somewhere near where we need lifelong learning to be.

Now into the twenty-first century, for post education society read multinational/global society, but cautiously, because the words have become an all-purpose mantra. There is nothing new about a global economy. What is new is the reach, influence and power of multinational corporations to affect governments, countries, occupations, individuals and families. Nevertheless, whatever it is called, in a sense we now have a Post Education Society in capital letters and writ large. The need for adults to learn more has intensified as lives have become increasingly complicated and hence the need for adult institutions has become more

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