We are used to thinking that university or college education is the zenith of the years of all our studies. But is it so? What about the ongoing pursuit of knowledge for either professional or personal reasons? That is why nowadays, the term lifetime learning is gaining more and more popularity.
Lifelong learning is the continuous acquisition and development of knowledge and skills that last a person's entire life. Such learning can be achieved through formal methods – education, training, mentoring, training courses, professional development – and informal, by drawing new experiences from life itself.
The concept of lifelong learning assumes that it reaches people regardless of their age and field of activity. Besides that, it provides them with opportunities to realize and develop absolutely any educational interests and preferences.
Stages of Lifelong Learning
The main stages of lifelong learning are identified based on the age of the learners.
- The first group consists of students aged from 6 to 24 years old. They tend to study in specialized educational institutions, from elementary school to higher educational establishments. But in addition to formal education, children and young people also:
- study on their own or use educational resources;
- interact in their own families;
- participate in public organizations;
- communicate with many people;
- live in a particular cultural environment.
All this is non-formal education, which, along with formal, lays the foundations for human intellectual, social and emotional development.
- The second group consists of adults from 25 to 60 years. Although formal education is usually completed by this time, people still do not stop learning. They can engage in professional development, both formally and informally, receive additional education, engage in scientific work, learn, solve the problems of their work and daily life, expand their circle of acquaintances and horizons, travel mastering new skills, and obtain new hobbies.
- The third group is learners over 60 years old. During this period of life, people usually get an excellent opportunity to devote themselves to their interests and hobbies. It can be social work, traveling, handicrafts, and much more. Older people need to feel meaningful in their lives, so society's support for their ongoing development and learning is essential.
Lifelong Learning Philosophy
What is the basis of lifelong learning? There are four main directions of training: obtaining knowledge, obtaining skills, teaching interaction with other people (conflict resolution, developing communication skills, socialization, tolerance to other cultures, and so on) and self-development, which affects all possible areas of self-improvement – physical culture, intellectual development, the development of emotional competence and aesthetic sensitivity, and finally, spirituality.
What Are the Benefits of Lifelong Learning?
- It helps to develop the abilities and potentially given to a person by nature.
- It liberates the intellect.
- It promotes a curious view of the world.
- It enriches the collective wisdom of humankind.
- It can help make the world a better place.
- It helps people cope with changes more quickly.
- With this lifestyle, it is easier to find the meaning of life for yourself.
- Ongoing learning is a way always to remain an active member of society.
- It can help you find new friends and establish meaningful relationships.
- It enriches life and makes it richer.
Although traditional, formal education is a very significant part of the concept, such education types as independent and non-formal education are of particular importance. Lifelong learning is overall personal development and a way to promote society's development. So no, education never stops and continues throughout the whole life.