‘Really Useful Knowledge’ or ‘Merely Useful’ Lifelong Learning?

Chapter
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 26)

Abstract

There are few educators who would disagree with the principle that lifelong learning is a good thing, but the important questions are about the types of learning that the concept promotes, the life that it encourages us to lead, who benefits from this and the nature of the society that it upholds. Illich’s insight that lifelong learning could be a sign of our ‘permanent inadequacy’ seems an accurate characterisation of the dominant discourse of lifelong learning, which traps adults on a treadmill for employability in the labour market, where they must learn to be infinitely flexible, in a market system of education where the customer (the ‘learner’) buys their goods and of course, if they buy the wrong goods they have only themselves to blame (Crowther 2004). The dominant discourse creates a ‘regime of truth’ which shapes what is talked about as thinkable and plausible, and equally important, limits what is discussed and questioned (Foucault 1985).

Keywords

Civil Society Welfare State Lifelong Learning Adult Education Environmental Justice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Biesta, G. (2006). Beyond learning: Democratic education for a human future. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Biesta, G. (2010) The world is not a school: Have lifelong learning and emancipation still something to say to each other?. Unpublished presentation to Lifelong Learning Colloquium, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  3. Boudieu, P., & Waguant, L. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Coffield, F. (2002). Breaking the consensus. In R. Edwards, N. Miller, N. Small, & A. Tait (Eds.), Supporting lifelong learning. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Collins, M. (1991). Adult education as vocation: A critical role for the adult educator. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. CONFINTEA VI. (2009). United Kingdom national report. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  7. Crowther, J. (2004). In and against lifelong learning: Flexibility and the corrosion of character. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 23(2), 125–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davidson, N. (2010). What was neoliberalism? In N. Davidson, P. McCafferty, & D. Miller (Eds.), Neoliberal Scotland. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Eyerman, R., & Jamison, A. (1991). Social movements as cognitive praxis. Bristol: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  10. Field, J. (2002). Lifelong learning and the new educational order. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.Google Scholar
  11. Foucault, M. (1985). Truth, power and sexuality. In V. Beechey & J. Donald (Eds.), Subjectivity and social relations. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks (Q. Hoare & G. N. Smith, Trans.). London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  14. Hall, B. (2009). A river of life: Learning and environmental social movements. Interface, 1(1), 46–78.Google Scholar
  15. Halsey, A. H. (1972). Educational priority: EPA problems and policies. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  16. Hodgson, L. (2004). Manufactured civil society: Counting the cost. Critical Social Policy, 79(24), 139–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, R. (1993). Really useful knowledge’, 1790–1850. In M. Thorpe, R. Edwards, & A. Hanson (Eds.), Culture and processes of adult learning. Milton Keynes: Open University and Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Johnston, R. (1999). Adult learning for citizenship: Towards a reconstruction of the social purpose tradition. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 18(3), 175–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. LEWRG. (1979). In and against the state. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  20. Martin, I. (2003). Adult education, lifelong learning and citizenship: Some ifs and buts. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 22(6), 566–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Martin, I. (2008a). Reclaiming social purpose. The Edinburgh Papers Symposium. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, I. (2008b). Whither adult education in the learning paradigm?. Unpublished keynote presentation to the 38th SCUTREA Annual Conference, Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  23. Marx, K. (1983). Capital. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  24. Preece, J. (2006). Beyond the learning society: The learning world? International Journal of Lifelong Education, 25(3), 307–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Scandrett, E., Crowther, J., Hemmi, A., Mukherjee, S., Shah, D., & Sen, T. (2010). Theorising education and learning in social movements: Environmental justice campaigns in Scotland and India. Studies in the Education of Adults, 43(2), 124–140.Google Scholar
  26. Shaw, M., & Martin, I. (2000). Community work, citizenship and democracy: re-making the connections. Community Development Journal, 35(4), 401–413.Google Scholar
  27. Walzer, M. (1992). The civil society argument. In M. Mouffe (Ed.), Dimensions of radical democracy: Pluralism, citizenship, democracy. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  28. Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2009). The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do better. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  29. Williams, R. (1977). Marxism and literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Williams, R. (1983). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. London: Fontana.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Moray House School of EducationUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

Personalised recommendations