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

  • Jim Crowther
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 26)


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).


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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Moray House School of EducationUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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