Preparing for the Programme - Part 2
This paper reviews chapter 2 from The Changing Face of Further Education: Lifelong Learning, Inclusion and Community Values in Further Education (Hyland, T and Merrill, B (2003)). I will address the questions "Lifelong learning what is it? and who is it for?" and add my own thoughts and questions.
The term lifelong learning', indicates that learning does not stop at the end of compulsory education, it is a continuous process and can continue throughout a person's life. The use of the word learning' as opposed to education' indicates a difference between the formal framework of compulsory education required for children and young people and the more relaxed learning environment enjoyed by adults. This informal framework to learning is identified by Knowles (1970).
Although in the forefront of modern thinking re personal and social development and professional advancement via post compulsory education, lifelong learning is not a new idea. Following the First World War, it was recognised in Government that adult education was a vital component of the reconstruction of the country.
Contemporary thinking on the subject is once again Government led and is driven by the social and economic growth of the country as globalisation marches on. It is believed that for the UK to maintain its position as a main player in world affairs, the workforce and its managers need to be kept abreast of worldwide trends and competition.
The Learning Skills Council (LSC) is a relatively new organisation set up with the following goal:
The LSC exists to make England better skilled and more competitive. We have a single goal: to improve the skills of England's young people and adults to make sure we have a workforce that is of world-class standards.
We are responsible for planning and funding high-quality vocational education and training for everyone. Our vision is that by 2010, young people and adults in England have the knowledge and skills matching the best in the world and are part of a fiercely competitive workforce.' (www.lsc.gov.uk)
Consequently we see a campaign to heighten awareness of learning opportunities beyond compulsory education. In order to provide a vehicle for this thinking, colleges and universities now provide a wide range of courses which are tailored to suit the economic growth and well being of the country; as well as vocational and manual occupations, more and more is being done to encourage creativity, innovation and enterprise. The potential of a free thinking and versatile workforce is seen as a positive step forward.
Employers are actively encouraged to develop their staff through in-house training, distance learning packages and external courses. By doing so, employees feel valued by those they work for, creating a satisfied workforce which returns high productivity.
In this respect those who pursue lifelong learning in professional or employment fields benefit, I believe, themselves and their employers primarily, but ultimately support Government agendas for the economic well being of the country.
However, within this Government interpretation of lifelong learning there seems to be little room for individual and personal growth through learning and I agree with Hyland and Merrill when they say there can be little doubt that references to moral or social values are clearly subordinate to economic priorities'.
Edwards Typology (1997) supports this vision of lifelong learning in that it is biased toward the workplace. Edwards talks about meeting the demands of individuals and employers for updating skills and competences' and social policy frameworks of post-Second World War social democracies'
Ranson's Typology (1998) recognises the importance of addressing economic change but takes a more sociological view of lifelong learning and, in my view,...