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Conception of Lifelong Learning in Society Essay

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Updated: Aug 12th, 2019


Lifelong learning may be advocated as a response to economic and technological change in relation to education workplace and the notions of advanced liberalism and a teacher as an accountable professional in an education ‘market place’, it is necessary to define a number of key terms in the essay which have relation to lifelong learning.

This essay will also encompass a social-cultural aspect by means of expanding and identifying the differences between neo-liberalism and advanced liberalism. Lifelong learning has been also advocated through the economical and technological changes that also happen in relation to advanced liberalism and the existed Australian schooling system.

The ways in which diversity, equity and inclusivity are promoted and distinguished will be also evaluated in order to explain the process of facilitation consultative, collaborative, and critical relationships across diverse learning environments, communities and cultures. The discourse and development that is determined by the devolution and understanding of advanced liberalisms in relation to lifelong learning and the teacher as an accountable professional in an educational market place will be discussed as well.

Lifelong Learning Concept: Key Terms

Lifelong education presupposes an idea of constant knowledge exchange due to which people store information and help their generations to make use of the already made achievements properly. This process may be one of the most successful examples of devolution that is defined by Whitty (1998) as a successful passing down through a number of stages.

The first introduction to lifelong learning can be seen through the works of John Dewey who promoted a curriculum focused on lifelong learning. In such learning children are to be prepared for success through personal, intellectual, and social development (Westbrook, 1991). This concept was introduced by the UNESCO in the early 1970s as a means of equalizing earning and responding with the social demands greater opportunities (“Extending learning opportunities: adult education and lifelong learning,” 2001, p. 31).

Crick and Wilson (2005) state continuous learning takes place during one’s lifespan including formal and informal education and self-directed learning. Such knowledge is essential within the liberal doctrine, in which a new relation can be witnessed between the government and knowledge, in which learning is only a part of such knowledge flowing around a diversity of apparatuses (Miller & Rose, 2008, p. 204).

In the context of Australia, such knowledge should aim at maintaining the countries economy competitive in the global economy, where the latter should be achieved through linking the country’s future progress with being the “clever country” (Reich, 2008, p. 204).

Lifelong Learning from Socio-Cultural and Technological Points of View

The researches of World Bank (2003) admit that many changes in labor market and frequent demands of skilled workers influence the process of lifelong learning and people’s necessity of self-improvement. They admit that “organizational and technological changes may have caused the shift in demand to dominate the shift in supply, leading to a rise in returns to schooling and increased earnings inequality in advanced economies and some middle-income countries” (World Bank, 2003, p. 12).

This is why it is easy to advocate lifelong learning from a perspective that is closely connected to technological changes and new demands. The idea of education marketisation is another powerful example of how changes influence lifelong learning processes. This process implies an idea of adaptation education to the present and to the demands of markets.

From this perspective, education is considered to be a strong instrument that aims at stimulating specific markets. The necessity to connect concepts of lifelong learning and workplace has socio-cultural roots. In the workplace, lifelong learning may be explained as “engagement in study programmes that may continues after compulsory education and post university though continuing professional education” (Sutherland & Crowther, 2007, p. 218).

In their turn, Usher and Edwards (2007) admit that lifelong learning just has to be evaluated as a significant socio-cultural process but not just as a simple policy. Vesa Korhonen (2010) helps to define the role of socialization and learning process: person’s life experience grows up considerably in regard to the changes which happen around. This is why the attention to socio-cultural aspects of our everyday life is considered to be great and significant and makes lifelong learning possible and available for all representatives of humanity.

Neo-Liberalism and Advanced Liberalism Concepts: Legal and Ethical Frameworks

The concept of lifelong learning can be seen as one of the steps in the transition from learning as a psychological or cognitive in the minds of the learner, toward social and situated account that emphasize the role of culture and social participation (Bathmaker, 2004).

Such process is mainly based on the constructivist theory of learning in which knowledge transforms individuals within a social and cultural context (Delandshere, 2002). With traditional learning being transitioned toward transforming within social and cultural context, the lifelong learning theory more embraced on the view that individuals are placed within an economic environment (Axford & Seddon, 2006, p. 167).

In Australia, these views were advocated across all section of education by pro free-market Liberal-National Party and Liberal-Coalition government’s policies. The most powerful rationality for neo-liberalists is the economic rationality, and neoliberal views remain influential national governments “particularly with the Australian government” (Allport, 2000).

Neoliberal activities can be defined as “free market policies aimed at encouraging private enterprise and consumer choice, and entrepreneurial initiative, undermining the “dead hand” of “incompetent, bureaucratic and parasitic government” (Apple, 2001, p. 17). The strategy of advanced liberalism is defined as a “the broader realm of various assemblages of rationalities, technologies and agencies that constitute the characteristic ways of governing in contemporary liberal democracies” (Reich, 2008, p. 202).

The difference between these strategies was outlined through a distinction by Nikolas Rose who considered advanced liberalism as governmentality, while neo-liberalism as a political ideology (Larner, 2000, p. 14). Due to identification of strategies, educators are able to work within both legal and ethical frameworks in order to protect the ideas of equity and inclusivity.

The influence of advanced liberalism in the field of education can be seen through the introduction of the aspect of accounting and audit that educators interpret as benchmarking, assessments, and tests (King & Kendall, 2004, p.208). Governmentality is a term introduced by Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, in a 1978 lecture at the Collège de France that is explained as “a concern with the art of government … of how to be ruled, how strictly, by whom, to what end, by what methods, etc” (Nicoll, 2008, p. 36).

This notion is considered to be an integral part of lifelong education: the activities of educators aim at explaining the ethical side of this life. Some legal aspects explain how diversity and equity spread, and the strategy of advanced liberalism underlines the necessity to evaluate and to divide people in accordance with their principles and peculiarities.

Education Market Place: Teacher as a Professional

To remain professional teachers should be concerned with their ongoing professional development, where skills and competencies generated through such self-directed learning should act as an added capital and value for their professionalism (Nicoll, 2008).

In the market economy, teaching should become “a grown-up profession” that includes professional disagreements and conflicts are parts of professional learning. The teacher as an accountable professional in education market place plays an important role in the evaluation of advanced learning and neo-liberalism under some technological changes. Such teachers have to underline an idea of accountability and managerialism. Professional accountability aims at protecting human responsibilities without strict measures.

And managerialism helps to unite the ideas of trust and capital which are important for the social system and for the representatives of neo-liberalism in particular. A school is the place where some morals and living principles are explained and help everyone live a right life and understand an idea of respect to each other. This is why teachers as true professionals in education market place should prove their professionalism by means of improved ethical approaches to lifelong learning.


Lifelong learning has been already successfully advocated as a clear response to numerous economic and technological changes. These changes are closely connected to the education workplace and remain to influential in regard to educators’ activities.

The strategies of neo-liberalism and advanced liberalism help to analyze the relations between different learning environments: it is in human nature to be different and to correspond to different cultures, and the evaluation of socio-cultural aspect introduces a new side of lifelong learning that has to be promoted in order to enable educators work in different spheres.

Reference List

Allport, C. (2000). Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: lifelong learning and the implications for university staff. [Article]. Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management, 22(1), 37-46. doi: 10.1080/13600800050030365.

Apple, M. W. (2001). Educating the “right” way : markets, standards, God, and inequality. New York: Routledge Falmer.

Axford, B., & Seddon, T. (2006). Lifelong learning in a market economy: Education, training and the citizen-consumer. [Article]. Australian Journal of Education, 50(2), 167-184.

Bathmaker, A. M. (2004). Supporting Lifelong Learning, Volume 1: Perspectives on Learning/Supporting Lifelong Learning, Volume 2: Organizing Learning/Supporting Lifelong Learning, Volume 3: Making Policy Work (Book). [Book Review]. Studies in the Education of Adults, 36(1), 139-143.

Crick, R. D., & Wilson, K. (2005). BEING A LEARNER: A VIRTUE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. [Article]. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(3), 359-374. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8527.2005.00300.x.

Delandshere, G. (2002). Assessment as inquiry. Teachers College Record, 104(7), 1461-1484.

Extending learning opportunities: adult education and lifelong learning. (2001). [Article]. Education Links, 63, 30-37.

Hyslop-Margison, E. J., & Sears, A. M. (2006). Neo-liberalism, globalization and human capital learning : reclaiming education for democratic citizenship. Dordrecht: Springer.

King, R., & Kendall, G. (2004). The Liberal State The state, democracy and globalization (pp. 186-215). Hamshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Korhonen, V. (2010). Cross-Cultural Lifelong Learning. Tampere: University of Tampere.

Larner, W. (2000). Neo-liberalism: Policy, Ideology, Governmentality. Studies in Political Economy 63, 5-25. Web.

Miller, P., & Rose, N. S. (2008). Governing Advanced Liberal Democracies Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life (pp. 199-218). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Nicoll, K. (2008). Foucault and lifelong learning : governing the subject. London New York, NY: Routledge.

Reich, A. (2008). Intersecting work and learning: assembling advanced liberal regimes of governing workers in Australia. [Article]. Studies in Continuing Education, 30(3), 199-213. doi: 10.1080/01580370802439912.

Sutherland, P. & Crowther, J. (2007). Lifelong Learning: Concepts and Contexts. Oxon: Routledge.

Usher, R. & Edwards, R. (2007). Lifelong Learning: Signs, Discourses, Practices. Netherlands: Springer.

Westbrook, R. B. (1991). John Dewey and American democracy. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Whitty, P. (1998). Devolution and Choice in Education. London: Prince Hall Publishers.

World Bank. (2003). Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries. Washington: World Bank Publications.

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