Lifelong learning and my thoughts after the Skype meeting with our American partners.

First of all, I would like to share me thoughts on the Skype meeting. I have to say it was a very pleasurable experience from which I have learnt a lot and which gave me food for thought, not only for this Project in which I am going to research and write about the various levels and issues regarding Lifelong Leanrning, but for life in general.

Secondly, I was struck by the difference in the way the American group perceived Lifelong Learning and how positive they were about it. What struck me most was their optimism and pride in doing something they believed would help them become better human beings, parents, and of course, further their progress in their working environment and help their communities in becoming a better place. It was very inspiring to listen to the way they perceived their own ‘’journey’’ and self development process, because not a sigle one of them regarded it in terms of financial benefits or in other words ‘’rates of return’’. Actually, I sometimes felt like I was being very negative and cynical when we would discuss the negative aspects of the phenomenon, especially its social control aspect, with which, by the way, I strongly agree. I found it so hard to explain to a group that was so convinced about the self evident good of lifelong learning, that I decided that I must set myself the goal of explaining in detail what I was going to write about (and sometimes criticize) to make sure it is clear to understand the complexity of this social movement.

Of course, is it necessary to highlight that it is not learning in itself that is being considered a social control system, but the way learning has become a measurement of ones worth on the labour market and what damage this kind of approach has done to the individuals who now perceive learning and self development in terms of economic remuneration.

Moreover, lifelong learning is a movement that is present in many Western countries. Present on various governmental levels it is part of a Social Contract between Governments, Labour Unions, Businesses and Education. It is very important to understand this connection in order to later understand why I agree with Frank Coffield, author of the academic article ,,Breaking the Consensus: lifelong learning as social control’’ when he says that it is a social control system. I felt it wasn’t clear to the American group how such a self-evident good as education and self-development can be perceived in the terms of social control, which is, after all, a very negative way  to describe this social movement.

Ultimately, however, the values of this phenomenon depend on what aspects are being analysed and the perspective that is being adopted. It is challenging to explain this, as the rhetoric of lifelong learning is upbeat and positive. Learning is a valuable human process, the more we learn the richer human beings we will be. How can one disagree? And yet, studying and learning per se is not the only thing that drives individuals to invest in their self development. I believe, it is fair to also consider other, less noble factors and their influence on our lifelong learning journey. Since this post is getting too long, I am looking forward to dedicate more space to these other factors in other posts!

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