The Routledge International Handbook of Learning

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning


As our understanding of learning focuses on the whole person rather than individual aspects of learning, so the process of learning is beginning to be studied from a wide variety of perspectives and disciplines. This handbook presents a comprehensive overview of the contemporary research into learning: it brings together a diverse range of specialities with chapters written by leading scholars throughout the world from a wide variety of different approaches. The International Handbook of Learning captures the complexities of the learning process in seven major parts. Its 54 chapters are sub-divided in seven parts:

  • Learning and the person: senses, cognitions, emotions, personality traits and learning styles
  • Learning across the lifespan
  • Life-wide learning
  • Learning across the disciplines: covering everything from anthropology to neuroscience
  • Meaning systems' interpretation
  • Learning and disability
  • Historical and contemporary learning theorists.

Written by international experts, this book is the first comprehensive multi-disciplinary analysis of learning, packing a diverse collection of research into one accessible volume.


This book is a direct continuation of the study that Stella Parker and I conducted when we published Human Learning: An Holistic Approach in 2005. In that book we began to explore how different academic disciplines interpreted human learning. Since that book I have written quite a lot about learning, including a trilogy on lifelong learning and the learning society, Learning to be a Person in Society and the Handbook of Lifelong Learning. In this study I wanted to expand that original work to investigate human learning as both a lifewide and lifelong process. While I think that this book has begun to do this, I consider that the original aim was still too ambitious. Nevertheless, it does provide an entry into a multitude of different ways of studying the human learning process. Not every chapter has the same format: some of the chapters are theoretical, while others are case studies – in this sense we present a theory and practice of human learning. In the first instance I thought that each chapter should be theoretical, but in the end I decided that a mixture is more realistic, although both approaches open the door to further studies in their specific area.

In the first section we examine different aspects of learning and the person, but each of the chapters is no more than an introduction to the study of one aspect of learning. The second part examines lifelong learning, that is, learning through different stages of life. However, I am immediately aware that there are problems with this: we could have divided learning in early childhood into two separate chapters, since there are many transition points during the process of human living, and learning and the school years could be placed both in the section of lifelong learning, but it could also be inserted in the following section on life-wide learning. The third section contains some completely different perspectives on learning, such as learning and sleep and learning in violent situations: both are very common to everyday life, but not frequently studied from a learning perspective. Learning and disability is another common area of everyday life that does not always get included when we study learning, although there is a considerable parallel between the chapter on the fourth age (the very old) and the one on dementia in this book. However, this fourth section could have been extended, as there are so many disabilities that affect human learning, but I thought that it was wiser to include only some of the most common ones. The original book that was edited by Stella Parker and me examined the academic disciplines, and I did not want this fifth section to be a replication of that original study and so I asked many different authors and also included some different disciplines. The section includes perspectives from the human and social sciences and some from the natural sciences. However, it becomes obvious that more disciplines could have been included and, in fact, more were in the original proposal, but due to the force of . . .

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