Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Lifelong Learning in Europe: National Patterns and Challenges

Academic journal article The Innovation Journal

Lifelong Learning in Europe: National Patterns and Challenges

Article excerpt

Ellu Saar, Odd Bjorn Ure and John Holdford, eds. Lifelong Learning in Europe: National Patterns and Challenges Northampton, MA, USA / Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013

An opening word about the publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing is not for the penurious. This company produces first-rate books. They mine the talents of some of the world's most erudite and brilliantly analytical scholars. The books are skillfully written, carefully edited, attractively designed and expertly printed. So, if the old axiom remains accurate and "you get what you pay for" (and "pay for what you get"), then Edward Elgar's inventory assures excellence.

"EE" has been around for almost thirty years. It already has over 3000 high- quality academic and professional books on its list. It currently publishes about six new books every week. They include research monographs, reference books and upper-level university textbooks. Anyone with the resources to purchase them and the time to read them would soon become an astonishing repository of useful knowledge, ideas and opinion on the basis of its inventory alone.

Knowledge is power ... once people learn to read, it becomes immensely difficult to control how they might choose to use their new skill._

EE's preferred disciplines include about seventy fields ranging from economics, finance, business and management to law and public policy. Its books are highly focused and expertly composed. They are ideologically diverse and range from a technically sophisticated Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Empirical Macroeconomics to a refreshingly sympathetic Companion to Marxist Economics. For those with more esoteric interests, EE offers comprehensive assessments of Asian Monetary Integration; Intellectual Property ; Pharmaceuticals and Public Health; Social Capital and Rural Development in the Knowledge Society and more than 2995 others. EE is a self-consciously elitist, family-owned business. For that reason, although some of its paperbound volumes can be as cheap as $35.00, it is not uncommon to see its hardcover editions top $200. The book under review can be had for $134.32 (plus shipping and handling). If you like, you could probably cut a deal and purchase the entire catalogue for well under half a million dollars should you be so wealthy and so inclined. You are forewarned. Take a breath ...

... and now that the shock and awe have been absorbed and at least a few readers might be consulting their departmental acquisitions budgets, let me say that this book in particular is worth the price for anyone who is genuinely interested in lifelong learning as a matter of philosophy, policy, programming and, yes, politics.

Lifelong learning is a broad term that can cover anything in the fields of formal and informal adult education programs. Commonly understood, it refers to the learning we experience after our early schooling is complete and we have ventured into what passes for the real world. It may include regulated and required professional upgrading in law and medicine, industrial retraining for redundant factory workers or leisure-time recreational adventures in cookery, yoga or folk dancing. Lifelong learning can be accredited by professional and occupational licensing authorities or it might occur almost by happenstance in local public libraries and church basements. It has been around for a very long time within occupational settings-at least since the medieval artisanal guilds and certainly as long ago as the nineteenth-century Mechanics' Institutes in which self- motivated and self-directed working people sought self-improvement. At that time, working-class people banded together to organize their own educational projects and sometimes petitioned local authorities to make education available to them as well as to their wealthier, more fortunate compatriots. Unlike today, when colleges and universities are falling all over themselves seeking new markets for their products, few institutions of higher learning were responsive at the time. …

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