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Part of the book series: Lifelong Learning Book Series ((LLLB,volume 11))

In Chapter One “Lifelong Learning: Concepts and Conceptions” David Aspin and Judith Chapman note that, although the term “lifelong learning” is used in a wide variety of contexts and has a wide currency, its meaning is often unclear. It is perhaps for that reason that its operationalisation and implementation has not been widely practised or achieved and such application as it has had, has been achieved primarily on a piecemeal basis. They show that “Lifelong Learning” has been the subject of a range of various attempts at analysis, exploration and justification for some time now - since the publication of the UNESCO 1972 Report of the Fauré Committee, to further analysis and exploration in the Report of the UNESCO Delors Committee in 1996; and the Reports of the OECD, the European Parliament and the Nordic Council in the later 1990s. Since then policy-makers in countries, agencies and institutions have urged that a "lifelong learning" approach should be promoted in education policies to provide a strong foundation to underpin continuing education and training, social inclusion and individual opportunities for personal growth and emancipation. However the meanings and values implied by policy-makers’ use of and commitment to such ideas and values of “lifelong learning” remains ill-defined and unclear.

In this chapter some versions of lifelong learning are reviewed, some conceptions of education they imply are explored, and some of the ways those concepts may be partial, faulty, misleading or mistaken are delineated. To obviate opaque, tendentious or reductionist versions of “lifelong learning”, they propose looking pragmatically at the problems that policy-makers are addressing when urging that learning be lifelong and open to and engaged in by all people. They argue that, just as there is a myriad of such problems, some of them unique to particular countries, educational systems or institutions, some much more general and widespread, so there will be differences, not only in kind but also in degree of complexity and sophistication, in the type and scale of the solutions proffered to them. They end by advocating adopting a pragmatic approach as one of the principal modes of operation in the examination and attempted solution of some of the problems facing education today: what departments, systems and countries, what national and international institutions, agencies and organisations of learning, ought to do about the challenges posed by the need and demand for our educational policies to be “lifelong”.

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Aspin, D.N., Chapman, J.D. (2007). Lifelong Learning: Concepts and Conceptions. In: Aspin, D.N. (eds) Philosophical Perspectives on Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning Book Series, vol 11. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6193-6_1

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