First of all, why do we need Lifelong learning? Well, even without having to be told about it much, we all know that the social situation of competition, innovation and rapid change generated by globalization in a knowledge economy have led to the emergence of lifelong learning. People are frequently urged to return to learning, to get more qualifications and so on. Lifelong learning has become a new social movement aimed at human development and is something self-evidently good, something human beings must engage in if they want to grow, develop and, as a result, become useful members of society. Besides, we live in a rapidly changing world, where new, so called 21st century skills are expected from children as well as adults. Such skills combine learning and innovation skills such as critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration etc. All very useful in order to thrive in our modern, constantly changing world.
On the other hand, we are aware that there are good reasons why we should look critically at the Lifelong learning and these reasons, pointed out by academic writers, will forever prevent us from approaching this superficially self-evident good enthusiastically.
First of all, the driving force the introduction of lifelong learning is that employers demand an educated workforce in order to respond to a market that demands innovation and efficiency. Universities and colleges are being forced to enter the learning market and sell their commodities, so they are also looking for customers. Institutions of higher education are called upon to create skills, and no longer ideals. Nowadays, the transmission of knowledge is designed to supply the system with players capable of fulfilling their roles at the pragmatic posts required by its institution.
This train of thought brought me to the conclusion that the economy is the most important value in the social and economic life of the modern society. We feed the system we live in with our students and all the other means we have. Competing with the USA economy lead to the birth of the EU, our economy is now fighting to struggle with the Asian markets and all these reasons are putting pressure on individual citizens. This is why many consider lifelong learning to be nothing else, but a system of control. Because, if people are means to the economy than why should they be under such huge pressure to be flexible, offer flexicurity and suffer the individualization of a social issue such as this one. Most citizens consider their education only in terms of thinking about what the employer expects from them. In a nutschell: you’re in or you fall out. The final question I would like to pose is shouldn’t we adjust the economy to adapt better to humans rather than continue forcing citizens to adapt to the economy its constant need of flexibility, innovation and competition? After all, economy was invented to serve the people and not the other way around.
Finally, I would like to point out that lifelong learning is a very nobel and great movement and the EU is right to promote self-development of individuals to make the world a better place. However, is should not be considered an antidote to the economy.