Good Practice in Lifelong Learning
The translation of lifelong learning theory into educational practice raises a number of important issues. Although these issues are, to some extent at least, immanent to the theory, the experience of them is heightened in periods of educational reform associated with the implementation of lifelong learning theory. Here I examine what are arguably the more important of these issues - those arising from the focus in lifelong learning theory on learning outcomes and on the existential realities of individual learners. These positions have led to charges of value relativism, of the privatisation of educational responsibility and of mis-education through a wide range of effects, including the loss of curricular coherence, a pre-occupation with training, a focus on learning in non-educational contexts, the commodification of education, an erosion of important conceptual distinctions and a focus on issues of immediate interest or concern.
While I argue that the claim or experience of value relativism is a serious and potentially disabling misreading of lifelong learning theory, the privatisation of educational responsibility is an inherent feature in more welfare-driven contexts of reform. However, charges of miseducation are sustainable only from educational perspectives that are significantly divergent from that of lifelong learning theory. From a lifelong learning perspective, educational reform in such oppositional contexts may be resisted and subverted, but its quality should fall short of its theoretical potential only to the extent that its implementation is denied, diminished or subverted.
These issues would seem to be likely to affect adversely the quality of lifelong learning practice and to generate opposition and resistance to it. To understand the issues and how they may be managed could be important in minimising their adverse effects. This chapter is directed to furthering that understanding.
KeywordsMarketing Coherence Arena OECD Lawson
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