What Is Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong learning is an English term that, loosely translated, means “ lifelong learning ”. It is a concept that advocates continuing education. In other words, it supports the idea that studies should be permanent, and not just for a short period of life.
Attending only the school years and ending studies after graduation is a practice that goes against lifelong learning.
According to the theory, formal education is only one part – albeit a very important one – of qualification.
Development is a process that goes beyond obtaining a degree.
In fact, it never ends.
After all, it’s always time to learn something new and improve skills.
What Is The Purpose Of Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong learning has a very clear objective: to encourage the continuity of studies .
And we are not talking about including new years in basic education or more stages in professional training.
This is because, according to the concept, the expansion of learning is not a responsibility linked to educational institutions , but rather to the individual’s own will .
As Aristotle said , “the joy we have in thinking and learning makes us think and learn even more”.
The search for permanent education must happen voluntarily and proactively.
And it is easy to understand one of the reasons for wanting to develop more and more – just look at the corporate scenario.
If, a few decades ago, being willing was a sufficient attribute to get a job opportunity , today, things are very different.
The market is highly competitive and requires competent and qualified professionals.
The more skills an employee has, the more popular and in demand he is.
The Human Resources consultancies themselves validate this premise.
A study by CareerBuilder , for example, showed that for 77% of employers , soft skills – one of the types of competence that can be developed – are just as important as technical knowledge.
That is, although professional training has a significant weight, other skills are also equivalent in the balance.
How Important Is Lifelong Learning For Institutions?
Lifelong learning raises an important point to be discussed: the role and situation of educational institutions in this ecosystem.
In view of this, it is worth noting that the concept is not an affront to formal education .
It’s far from it, actually.
Lifelong learning is an ally of educational institutions, as it represents yet another stimulus for studies .
Anyone who is or has been a student knows that the classroom is indispensable for learning, but they are also aware that extracurricular efforts increase knowledge and skills.
It is as if these activities outside the class boost everything that is assimilated within it.
In this way, lifelong learning theory is essential for institutions that want to train students who are prepared for future challenges .
In addition to, of course, an opportunity to include courses and other training that meet the needs of professionals and the job market .
What Are The Advantages Of Lifelong Learning?
So far, it has become clear that lifelong learning is a concept that aims at a lifestyle based on continuous learning .
But, after all, what benefits does the individual who decides to apply lifelong learning have?
Check out the main advantages below:
1-Development Of New Skills
Undoubtedly, the development of new skills is among the most relevant reasons to adopt lifelong learning.
This is because competences help to provide expressive results in activities, especially those related to work.
Want to see an example?
Let’s assume that a marketing analyst needs to make a schedule with the dates of all actions of the new campaign.
For not knowing the secrets of Excel, the first attitude would be to manually insert the dates in each column.
However, he may decide, voluntarily and proactively , to look for an easier way to do it.
With a simple search on YouTube, the professional can find a formula that solves everything in a few seconds.
So, in addition to saving time and solving the problem, this knowledge will make a difference the next time you need to perform a similar task.
This is an example of acquired technical capability .
But lifelong learning also encourages the development of behavioral skills .
2-Stimulation Of Creativity
Creativity, for example, is a behavioral skill.
In many people, this is an innate trait.
In other words, a natural talent.
But it can also be developed with effort and dedication.
In addition, even those who have the ability to be a crib can suffer from blocks that prevent ideas from emerging.
Therefore, a stimulus is always welcome.
Lifelong learning, in turn, is effective in boosting the ability to think outside the box and propose new solutions.
3-Mastery Of New Technologies
We are experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution or, as it is also known, industry 4.0 and the age of technology.
A few decades ago, many technological innovations were unthinkable.
The fact is that, to reach this level, it was necessary for scholars and inventors to take the first step, right?
That is, they took the initiative to think of new ideas and propose different solutions to existing problems.
Today, certainly, we cannot imagine what it would be like to live without such progress, nor do we envision what the world will be like some time from now.
It turns out that lifelong learners are capable of discovering new technologies.
The thirst for continuous knowledge is what drives digital transformation and, consequently, the evolution of our society.
4-Emergence Of Opportunities
It is difficult to measure the number of opportunities that lifelong learning can provide.
After all, each knowledge acquired has the potential to open many doors .
In the career , if you develop a new skill, for example, there are other positions and functions that can be performed.
A new knowledge can also awaken the desire for an activity that, until then, seemed unattractive.
Just let knowledge guide the way.
Where Can Lifelong Learning Be Applied?
So far, we’ve seen a number of benefits that lifelong learning offers to individuals.
In addition to the significant results on a personal level, practice is also very important for professional development .
Of all Americans who consider themselves lifelong learners and responded to the survey we mentioned in the introduction to this article, 87% said they had embraced the concept to maintain or improve skills at work.
But lifelong learning doesn’t just have advantages for people and their backgrounds.
Companies can also benefit (a lot!) from the practice of the concept.
Once the culture is established, employees take a more active stance in seeking knowledge.
In this way, by acquiring new skills and knowledge, they become more prepared for the challenges encountered in the environment.
The result is a much more strategic and productive organizational routine .
The 4 Pillars Of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning, although it emerged in the 1970s, only became more evident in the 1990s, with the advancement of studies on education .
But it was in 2010, with the publication of a report by UNESCO’s International Commission on Education for the 21st Century , that the concept began to be disseminated more intensively.
This led to an organization called Lifelong Learning Council Queensland (LLCQ) representing lifelong learning around the world.
According to the institution, the concept is based on four pillars:
Learn To Know
That knowledge is an indispensable part of learning, everyone knows.
But this pillar of lifelong learning is not limited to the search for wisdom based on traditional methods.
Decorating the studied content, for example, is an ancient technique, however, it does not go beyond the need for knowledge.
Learning to know is actually taking pleasure in this process .
This requires curiosity, reflection, questioning posture and critical thinking.
Only in this way is it possible to build autonomous knowledge .
Learn To Do
There is a learning methodology called 70:20:10 .
It was developed in 1990 by professors Morgan McCall, Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo, from the Center for Creative Leadership, in North Carolina (USA).
Scholars have concluded that the expansion of learning occurs under different circumstances.
Only 10% of learning is acquired from courses, 20% results from interaction with other individuals, and 70% comes from own experiences .
That is, most of the learning is due to doing.
On-the-job learning , as it is also called, comes from experience, whether through routine tasks, responsibilities or challenges.
These activities encourage the development of behavioral skills, such as interpersonal communication, proactivity, emotional intelligence and teamwork, among others.
In short, practice makes knowledge a habit .
Learn To Live Together
We can say that the third pillar that supports lifelong learning is related to the 20% share of the 70:20:10 model.
Interaction with other people allows you to improve knowledge.
But this goes beyond observing other people’s work or receiving constructive feedback .
Learning to live together, as the name suggests, is learning through living together.
This means that any kind of exchange has the power to promote learning.
Learn To Be
The last pillar supports the idea that one must learn to be.
In other words, it is about developing autonomy to learn new things .
The individual must form self-responsibility for their learning.
And there’s no other way to do that other than discovering your own potential.
How To Apply Lifelong Learning In Your Life
Now that you know where to apply lifelong learning and the pillars that support the practice, it’s time to find out how to do it.
Each individual is free to establish their methods based on their characteristics and needs .
Also, a lot depends on the starting point.
But overall, a few steps can be used as a guide to becoming a lifelong learner.
Let’s find out what they are now.
Reflect On Your Interests
What do you hope to learn?
Your learning can be connected to your career, but also to other aspects of your life.
Reflecting on your intentions helps chart the best path to adopting the concept.
It is also worth considering the topics of interest to you .
After all, in lifelong learning, you have to enjoy learning, and if you don’t like the content, you’ll hardly develop that enthusiasm.
Build The Lifelong Learner Mindset
You can’t be a lifelong learner until you reach a specific goal or for a certain period of time.
Lifelong learning is a way of life and it should last forever.
Just like with those who decide to lead a healthier life.
The change is permanent, not just until you lose a few pounds, for example.
So make sure that this is really what you want , and work your mind not to give up on the goal.
Make A Plan
Lifelong learning requires planning.
It is necessary to have clarity of what is expected to learn and an action plan to achieve the learning.
What’s more, it’s based on practice that everything becomes habit .
In the beginning, it can be more difficult, but with determination and consistency, the processes flow naturally.
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is a way to not get discouraged and keep your motivation high.
Assess your knowledge and measure learning against your planning.
Take the opportunity to celebrate each achievement .
Do this often and see how lifelong learning will fit more easily into your life.
Review Your Goals
Always remember that lifelong learning is forever .
Then, when you achieve the learning that was outlined in your plan, new knowledge must be pursued.
Make sure your goals are present at all times.
Also, try to align your expectations according to the moments of your life.
Common Challenges To Lifelong Learning
Lack of time is at the top of the excuse for adopting lifelong learning.
Okay, not always an excuse.
In fact, this is one of the great challenges of modern society, and, without a doubt, one of the barriers to lifelong learning.
Another common obstacle is lack of money .
For these and other obstacles, there are ways to overcome them.
Regarding the lack of time, it is possible to take advantage of the hours that are normally wasted, such as commuting periods.
Instead of playing games on your cell phone while riding public transport, why not read a book?
When driving, one option is to swap the music for a podcast.
The important thing is to make the most of the time left in your day .
For the investment problem, the alternative is to resort to free or very low cost content.
Today, it is possible to find a lot of quality material for very affordable prices.
The Use Of Technology In The Application Of Lifelong Learning
Currently, with technology, access to information is facilitated .
In a few seconds, especially with the help of a smartphone, it is perfectly feasible to acquire new knowledge.
The cell phone and other tools we have at our disposal are lifelong learning facilitators .
And not just in relation to access to study materials.
Networking is also promoted by technological solutions.
A Skype meeting or a conversation via LinkedIn makes learning possible through the exchange of experiences .