Although this is not a definition I looked up anywhere but basing it on my own understanding and my own experience of it, I would say lifelong learning is the practice of continuing learning through your entire life. It’s not entangled with the trivialities of the questions of ‘what’, ‘how’ and even ‘who’ is responsible.
Instead, it encapsulates a variety of experiences, ways, methods, media, resources but it doesn’t attempt to determine what is the “right way” or the “wrong way” nor does it get mixed up in confusing and conflicting arguments over who owns it, how is it delivered or designed, who it belongs to, or who pays for it.
Let’s just agree at this point to say, ‘life long learning is integral for our survival”.
It’s a holistic approach for our personal development where we learn ourselves and our place in this world, and how we deal with the challenges thrown our way in life by working with others to overcome them.
How Did I Get Here?
This year has been an immense learning and reflective journey for me thanks to COVID.
I’m sure I’m not the only person to have felt this way as the virus rocked everything in our world and made visible some things that had remain hidden, unacknowledged or discounted.
Reading widely and having time to reflect and ponder about the dismal state of the world and my place in it, made me think about what drove me to write the things I write and to do the things I do – and have been doing over the years.
It made me question what my motivation was for personal learning and development in myself over the years that I’ve been writing about in this blog or sharing on my YouTube channel.
For example, all my projects such as:
- building a learning and networking community Third Place,
- learning how to read music, learning how to play the ukulele,
- being part of an intergenerational film crew where we made a film that was screened at our local cinema,
- my obsession with Australian History,
- creative projects such as acting as a luddite foreign correspondent called Shazza Breaknews for CNT News; Community Reporter for Microsoft Ignite;
- learning Power Automate,
- learning French and so much more).
What was the point of doing all that and sharing it all out loud here?
The realisation was that I was passionate for learning new things and stretching myself out of my comfort zone.
I used my time not for just work related or job skills (because believe it or not these were the advantageous by-product of my lifelong learning pursuits anyway) but also for feeding my brain and heart which in turn, made me curious to go an extra step to learn more.
I guess you can say that being a curious explorer by default helped me in my job anyway.
To any outsider, it looks like I have some kind of ADHD flitting from one thing to another without these things being directly applicable to a specific job, task or skill for the workplace and yet each one of them helped me with some other skills that have made me more:
- comfortable with constant change
- culturally aware
- mindful of my own performance gaps and bias
- not accept the status-quo
If anything, it made me learn something about myself. I was taking the easy route out by continuing to ‘think small, think safe.” I was focussed on an aspect of learning that related to just job tasks and skills and not the part that involved a grander, more bodacious goal of learning to make a new future for ourselves.
This year I hope to recalibrate this and think more widely beyond the workplace – and instead, think of learning as an opportunity to build new communities, cities and societies to grapple with everything that we will face in the world from now on.
Here’s one book that got me thinking of what’s ahead….
Here’s another book that got me thinking..