Is lifelong learning adult education?

ijle.jpg  This is the title of an editorial from the latest issue of the International Journal of Lifelong Education   Below is an excerpt from the editorial as well as abstracts of two of the articles in this issue [subscription required]:

Is lifelong learning adult education? [editorial]. Int J Lifelong Educ 2006; 25(6):545-546.

Excerpt: At first glance the answer to this question seems obvious – no! After all, ‘lifelong’ implies more than ‘adult’ and ‘learning’ is a broader concept than ‘education’. But if we look at much of the literature and many government policy statements around the world we find that they are almost treated as synonymous and that discussions about school education and higher education do not occur. Moreover, go to a conference about lifelong learning and you will not find many school educators or members of the university staff (except those who are professionally involved in either adult education or lifelong learning). Even more, as educational gerontology develops, many academics in this field do not appear to attend lifelong learning meetings either. Consequently, it begins to look as if the school educators and university staff do not see themselves as part of the lifelong learning field, so that the practice seems to deny the linguistic differences.  DOI Link

Griffin C. Research and policy in lifelong learning. Int J Lifelong Educ 2006; 25(6):561-574.

Abstract: It has long been acknowledged that adult and lifelong educators have exercised little influence over national education policies. This article addresses the issue, with particular reference to the research elements of policy advocacy. Researchers and policy-makers are distinguished and related as communities of practice and intellectual categories of social function. It is argued that the concept ‘policy-maker’ is too ambiguous to be of either theoretical or practical use, especially since the focus has shifted over the years away from the advocacy of adult education to the implementation of lifelong learning. Also, the concepts of both ‘policy’ and ‘research’ have undergone significant shifts of meaning, so that traditional ideas of the relation between research and policy are now outdated. We live in an age of public scepticism about the political uses to which research is put, and this also needs to be taken into account in the case of lifelong learning. Thus, the relation between research and the policy process needs to be reconceptualised in a future beyond lifelong learning in order to be meaningful, with the focus much more upon process than outcome. Only in this way could adult and lifelong educators expect to have any influence upon national policies.  DOI Link 

Gorard S, Smith E. Beyond the ‘learning society’: what have we learnt from widening participation research? Int J Lifelong Educ 2006; 25(6):575-594.

Abstract: This article emerges from a recent review of evidence, conducted by the authors and others, on the lifelong barriers to widening participation in higher education in England. This has led us to a consideration of the quality and relevance of the research activity in this large field of endeavour, and to the creation of a typology of the kinds of widespread problems we then encountered. These include pseudo-research, poor quality reporting of research, deficiencies in datasets, analytical errors, a lack of suitable comparators, obfuscation, a lack of scepticism in general, and the regular misattribution of causal links in particular. The article discusses each of these, and illustrates them using generally high-profile research studies and publications. We found a substantial proportion of non-empirical pieces. Of the remainder, we found a substantial proportion that did not report sufficiently well their methods or their findings. Of the remainder that were empirical and did explain their methods and findings sufficiently, we found a substantial proportion in which the findings could not support the conclusions drawn from them. The article ends with a plea for a great deal more ‘learning’ and openness to new ideas among those engaged, lifelong, in researching lifelong learning.  DOI Link  

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