What Is Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong learning is the continuous, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge which culminates both in personal and professional development.
Lifelong learning can be seen taking place on an ongoing basis from our daily interactions with others. Learning throughout one’s life is no longer an option. It is a requirement, especially as it aids in growing social relationships as well as in expanding knowledge.
Lifelong learning has always been the way of excellence. It not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.
Historical Background Of Lifelong Learning
The concept of lifelong learning evolved from the term “life-long learners”, which the pioneer, Leslie Watkins, opines recognizes that learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom but takes place throughout life and in a range of situations.
In history, persons who were dedicated to lifelong learning contributed much to the world. They themselves are known and studied today. Leonarda da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin are among the most famous who devoted concerted effort in lifelong learning.
Becoming A Lifelong Learner
A lifelong learner is a natural and curious learner—someone who enjoys learning about areas that arouses interest and curiosity as well as other areas that are seemingly important yet are not naturally drawn toward.
Some lifelong learners embark on a structured and traditional approach by attending community colleges or community lectures.
Others prefer a less-structured approach and learn as they experience life by talking to others who have mastered areas of knowledge. They like to go and see someone who knows what they want to know, watch them apply the knowledge, and then ask questions and maybe try it themselves.
Whatever your method of learning, keeping up with the flood of knowledge in our world is part of survival in a highly developed society. An individual with a BS degree is obsolete within 5 years if he/she does not continue to stay current with the day-to-day developments in his/her field.
In the fast-paced world today, with knowledge reportedly doubling every 5 years, one has to study continuously to stay current with the marketplace. And, we do live in a fast-paced world. A state-of-the-art product in the marketplace has a short life span. Knowledge is increasing at a rapid pace.
Lifelong Learning In The Workplace
Lifelong learning is necessary for self-sustainability and adaptability. In the working environment, we each have an area of expertise. The fact that we are in one area of knowledge can block us from meaningful relationships with those in other areas of knowledge. It can cause us to fail to understand—even to misunderstand—why one department or group responds to us the way it does.
Increased knowledge of the other areas opens doors of communication and a more effective, efficient, and adaptable work environment. If an employee studies only within his or her respective field of knowledge, he or she becomes an expert in one area. However, if an employee also studies other fields of knowledge, he or she becomes a better communicator who happens to be an expert in a certain field. The same principal applies to companies.
Lifelong learning is relevant and beneficial to organizations. It can allow us to recognize when certain companies would make good partners for strategic alliance. Not being a learning organization—learning from our own experience and exploration as well as studying others—leads to bureaucracy or extinction.
It should be obvious, then, that companies—or for that matter, an officer, manager, or employee of a company—cannot remain relevant or useful unless they continually learn.
To stay abreast of current advances in technology and best practices, a company must offer incentives to employees to continually learn and upgrade skills and knowledge. Companies must provide time for employees to do this learning. Companies cannot survive unless they are lifelong learners, and that means they must continually train people who make up the corporate family.