Lifelong, informal and nontraditional learning

Malcolm Shepherd Knowles (1913-1997), an American adult educator is said to be the father of adult education. He created the idea of andragogy, synonymous to adult education. Andragogy comes from Greek and it literally means “leading man” when pedagogy literally means “leading children”. Before his principles and methods, adult learners were mainly taught using the same methods that are used for children.

Lifelong Learning is not a new topic. European Parliament and Council declared year 1996 “European Year of Lifelong Learning”. Aim was to create awareness and promote Lifelong Learning. The objectives were:
• the importance of a high-quality of general education;
• promotion of lifelong learning ;
• increasing the interest of personal development;
• creating better cooperation between education and training institutions and the enterprises;
• raising the awareness of the social partners and parents;
• development of the European dimension of continuing education and training and promotion of mobility in Europe.

“Learning: The Treasure Within” also known as Delort’s Report, was published by Unesco the same year. In Delort’s report is named the four pillars of education as follows:

  1. Learning to know
  2. Learning to do
  3. Learning to be
  4. Learning to live together

In a changing world, it is important to learn throughout life. New knowledge and skills are needed in personal and working lives. Learning to learn is the basis of this idea. Good quality information has to be also easily accessible. The pillar learning to live together is proposed in the report as the foundations of education. Understanding others traditions and history would ease co-operation and help us solving conflicts peacefully. Scientific progress is increasingly fast and the importance of knowing things grows all the time. Learning to know pillar gives the basis to lifelong learning and education. Learning to do does not mean only learning to do something, but widely it gives tools to handle different circumstances and to act in spontaneous situations. The fourth pillar learning to be was ruling theme of Edgar Faure’s report published by UNESCO already in 1972. In his report “Learning to Be: The World of Education Today and Tomorrow” Faure points out independency of an individual combined with common goals of the whole society. In Delor’s report, this is taken even further away by propounding that none of individuals talents should be left unused. At the same time the report points out that, human experience has to be taken into account when planning education.

Formal, Informal and Non-formal Learning

Learning can be divided into formal, informal and non-formal learning. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training defines formal learning as learning that typically leads to certification and occurs in an organized environment.

Formal learning is intentional for learner. Informal learning is a result of leisure time or something learned at work. It is not as intentional as formal learning and learner may not even notice the learning process. However, the learning outcomes may be validated. Non-formal learning contains learning element but is not designated to learning. Non-formal learning out-comes may also be validated.

The versatility of different forms of learning have been recognized and accreditation of prior experiential learning has come alongside accreditation of prior certificated learning. This has been noticed also in the reform of continuous learning and recognition of prior learning and accreditation of prior learning will be developed (Ministry of Education and Culture, 2020).

Benefits of Lifelong Learning

In Delort’s Report is mentioned how education is in the centre of both personal and community development. Benefits of lifelong learning have been discovered on certain level, but there is still work before all adults internalize the importance of continuous learning.

Commission of the European Communities (CEC) named six key messages in their Memorandum of Lifelong Learning in 2000:
• New basic skills for all
• More investment in human resources
• Innovation in teaching and learning
• Valuing learning
• Rethinking guidance and counselling
• Bringing learning closer to home (CEC, 2000).

After twenty years, these themes are still actual. Changes in working life are ongoing and it is important to maintain and improve skills throughout life. Knowledge economy is changing fast and globalization increases. It is not ad-equate anymore to have one vocational degree. One must update skills and knowledge for work and everyday life. The fourth industrial revolution is already here. The former ones changed lives dramatically: 1st revolution – Mechanization, 2nd revolution – Mass production, 3rd revolution – Electronic systems and the 4th revolution – Cyber physical system. The 4th revolution combines networking, globalization, digitalization and AI.

Cedefop. 2014. Publications Office of the European Union
Cordis. European Commission. European Year of Lifelong Learning: Guidelines.
Delor, J. 1996. Learning: The Treasure Within. Report to UNESCO of the International Com-mission on Education for the Twenty-first Century.
Hietala, J. & Härkin, J. Digital Transformation of the Workforce. Creating Human Touch for AI revolution.
Laal, M. 2012. Benefits of lifelong learning.
von Schantz,C. 2018. Neljäs vallankumous näkyy arjessa jo nyt
Wikipedia – Andragogy

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