As these two examples show, the concept of lifelong learning is one to which people bring their own interpretations and preconceptions. Does lifelong learning only begin when students have left school or is school an integral part of learning which starts at birth and continues into adulthood? Or is there a gap in learning for life? As these extracts show, it is not only seen differently from a student and teacher perspective but also in different cultural contexts. Provision for learning beyond schooling is illustrated through an example from Japanwhere learning is seen as permeating the community and for young and old alike.
This chapter looks at lifelong learning in a Japanese city from three perspectives: that of the students, the teacher and from a community perspective, describing the provision that is available for people to go on learning throughout their lives.
Most students interviewed said that they were positively influenced by what they learned in school. These students mentioned skills and situations that would, in some way or another, benefit them. Subjects like languages and social sciences were listed as being advantageous. Students felt that they picked up skills such as common sense and clear thinking and teamwork during their school careers, which they saw as vital for success in the 'real world'. Entrance exams and study skills were also highlighted as motivational factors at high school. Some students felt that learning how to study and getting good results were important too.
Those students who felt that school did not benefit them mostly mentioned subjects that they thought were irrelevant for their lives. One or two students also mentioned the fact that they had no plans to go to university and this therefore affected their judgement of what was worth learning.
When we started our research at Nara Women's University Secondary School we became aware that many students at the school took part in club activities.