Time and time again I come across confusion between the terms Education and Learning. On reflection, I would suggest that the former is what someone receives, or a professional delivers, whereas the latter is what someone does. There are, undoubtedly different interpretations of these two terms, but they are not interchangeable. One is favoured by certain channels since it can be measured in some way and measures are all the rage these days.
This difference is important as we consider the nature of what can be planned for and its value to society. However, to assess value, the current trend is to quantify it to death and in the process to pour water on all spontaneity, joy and excitement for those involved, both the teacher and the learner.
Indeed, the shared roles of teacher and learner are recognised in the andragogical approach to educational activity, the development of adults. In the UK, we seem to recgonise the didactic approach we can all relate to, usually with a teacher teaching a course. However, if we turn the tables to the less commonly recognised adult learning model, a whole plethora of activities open out for us – making even sauntering round the shopping centre a learning experience if it is approached in the right way. I use the example figuratvely, as the last thing you’ll find me doing is that – give me a walk in the countryside any day.
The fact is that older adults, whether educated by education or merely by life itself, are bound to seek other stimulii aside from just having content delivered to them. They like to question, debate and challenge, they like to have a go and can accept when things don’t turn out perfectly. Why? Because it is often the means that is most important, not the end. Which brings me back to Education and Learning. Education is the end, but Learning is the means.