I’ve written about my core beliefs of lifelong learning, how and why it should be a core part of one’s approach to life. Others have written how it’s mandatory to be a lifelong learner to achieve what you want in life. Jeff Cobb at Mission to Learn says we are no longer in a knowledge economy, we now live in a learning economy which he also calls a “figure-it-out-on-a-daily-basis” economy. Being a lifelong learner is not an option and is more important than ever to be successful in today’s world. I passionately believe this and believe that several things could help to get more people to believe this as well..
This would be a big year for lifelong learning if:
1. Lifelong learning (and education) gets a greater focus in the news and media
2. A technological development specifically targeted at lifelong learning makes big news
3. The term lifelong learning becomes recognized for what it really is
Greater Focus in the News
I don’t expect everyone to be talking about lifelong learning. We (lifelong learner believers) are still going to be a secondary to education and are going to have to make the best of it but that might not be a bad thing. We can still make progress in accomplishing our objectives by having a greater focus on the education field and everything related. There has been a significant increase in educational journalism but it still hasn’t really hit the mainstream. Why isn’t educational news as popular and available as entertainment news? There is plenty of educational news and information available for those searching for it, but for it to get to the next level of awareness and importance, educational news must be pushed to everyone more frequently and made even more readily available. I would like to see every news outlet have a greater focus on education. Education and learning are the driving force of the new economy and should be treated as such in the media. Every news source must highlight education every day. Education must be top of mind for more people for it to have it’s proper place. Every news outlet must have a standard section for education, right up there with US, world, local, business, politics, sports, and entertainment.
It is through this increased spotlight on education on the importance and value of education that lifelong learning will be elevated. It will become more clear that education is not just a short term endeavor, or focus, and that it’s not only for those just starting out. There should be stories that highlight the importance of lifelong learning, stories of people that have made lifelong learning part of everything that they do and what it has enabled them to achieve. These stories will look at how they achieved their accomplishments and will highlight their approach to lifelong learning as a key to their story. There will be things written that point to the necessity of lifelong learning to be successful in today’s society. There are many reasons and ways that news can shine the light on lifelong learners and lifelong learning.
The current focus is on the issues of education and on why and where it’s failing. I believe that a key reason as to why there are so many issues in education is that not enough people and parents take responsibility for their own, or their children’s education. In school systems where parents take responsibility there are better results. Isn’t this what lifelong learning is about? It is about taking responsibility for one’s ongoing learning. I believe that if more attention is given to education, more people will be aware of what’s necessary for educational success, particularly self-responsibility. And more people will place value on lifelong learning and become lifelong learners.
One good way to make this a reality is to make education a daily and important headline.
I wish for a new technology that will make big news this year that highlights the importance of lifelong learning. This technology or technical development should be focused on learning and becomes highly popular which brings new attention to the power of lifelong learning. My guess would be that if this were to occur it is likely to be a mobile learning game or activity that engages many people in different ways and highlights the benefits of lifelong learning. It would be free, easy to use and have many degrees of difficulty so that users stay engaged. It could be used in single player and in multi-player modes. This new learning game would creates a new category of app, or even a new category of technology, from which many others would follow. It could happen. Anyone working on such an app?
I also wish that the term lifelong learning becomes acknowledged for what it should be. This wish might be more of a pet peeve but I believe it could be a helpful one. In our society too many people associate the term lifelong learning with continuing education for seniors. This is not a bad thing but it creates unnecessary challenges for my lifelong learning field. I’m not sure how this started but I don’t care for it. When you look the online definition of lifelong learning, you get the right definition. It is defined in Wikipedia as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reason. This is the proper and best definition for lifelong learning. But when you do general online searches for lifelong learning you get classes for seniors. This creates confusion, uncertainty and doubt. It creates unnecessary challenges in the promotion and adoption of lifelong learning. To me the term lifelong learning is natural, and is easily understood. Unfortunately the term has been co-opted for senior education.
I’ve also seen some groups use lifelong learning related to general education.
Does lifelong learning need a new term? I have tried to come up with a new term, a better unambiguous term that we could use to represent lifelong learning. Any ideas? So far I can’t come up with a better one. I like the term lifelong learning. It’s just too good of a term to allow it to be misunderstood. Can we reclaim lifelong learning for it’s proper use? Let’s do this. I think that we should start a campaign to take back the term lifelong learning. Having more of a news focus on education, and on lifelong learning, should help achieve this as well.
These wishes can come true and the field of lifelong learning will prosper this year. It will be a good year for lifelong learning.