Following on from Part 1…
If we are to reinvent Lifelong Learning in the modern context, we have a wide range of questions we can use to develop answers that should help us construct our solution. Some of these are not easy to answer, and most require a depth of investigation that will consult many sources and situations.
The questions are not in any particular order of importance, and I expect the answers which spring from them will form the core of my research for the next couple of years.
The most important question, into which all the others will feed their fruits, is the one I use as the central thrust of my research. This has evolved from the initial idea, in great part because of the thinking and policy I have been uncovering in the meantime, along with a desire to make it relevant to the modern context. On this last point, if I am unable to do that, then this research will have been pointless, meaningful as it will have to be to both those who provide and those who will engage in Lifelong Learning.
My current title for my research is now:
What is a Sustainable Model for Lifelong Learning Older Adults in the UK?
This differs from the original, which was:
Towards a Model of Lifelong Learning for Older Adults in the UK
The reasons for this change, i.e. adding the word ‘sustainable’ and making it interrogative are simple. The former action is implicit in most policy these days, as much has failed and we not longer accept that one solution is the definitive solution for all time. However, it may be that ‘sustainable’ may be eventually substituted by another word such as ‘evolvable’, suggesting the fact that all solutions need to modify themselves as demands dictate. The fact I now have an overarching question reflects the investigative nature of what I am trying to do, and also introduces the implication that opinions will be sought from key players in the field, including those I target as primary case studies.
I include a brief explanation of each of the questions below, outlining the anticipated nature of where it might lead. At this stage, I shall try not to make too many assumptions, although it may be clear that some of the questions are phrased to indicate problems or shortcomings of the current situation. I expect therefore that some more objective phrasing of these questions may well be in order as I progress.
I am not sure whether such questions might form a framework for the entire thesis, I have tried to steer away from considering them in that way, and from any kind of introduction or conclusion to the research. However, it will probably be the case that the third party reader will see prejudgements and a lack of impartiality in some of these. This makes this into a constructive exercise where it will eventually be possible to identify the development of my research idea and its skeletal structure.
Where are we up to with UK Lifelong Learning?
Changes last fifty years – political, social. Major players. Minor actors. Pattern of involvement.
Does UK society truly make sense of Lifelong Learning?
Lifelong Learning in different contexts. Definitions. Misconceptions. Structure.
Why is Lifelong Learning especially important to UK Society today?
Ageing demographic. Well-being, financial, social reasons. Globalisation.
Can Lifelong Learning fit into current policy?
Conception of ‘Learning’ as filling a void. Workplace argument. Economic priorities.
What relationship is there between Lifelong Learning, Health and Well-being?
Analysis of studies & commentators. Link with NHS priorities.
Could Lifelong Learning really benefit the economy?
Hybrid multi-agency services. Quantitative v qualitative measures.
Is ‘Learning for Learning’s Sake’ really the reason to engage?
Health. Social. Community. Mental Capital.
Why should Lifelong Learning be viewed differently for older adults?
Life stage vs age. Loss of default opportunities. Andragogical approaches. Human capital.
What opportunities are there for developing a Lifelong Learning Infrastructure?
Public services and assets. Local economic drivers.
What should Lifelong Learning consist of in 21st century UK?
Longer lifespan. Longer retirement. Ethical and social responsibility. Networking.
What approaches are there to Lifelong Learning that make sense in the modern context?
Comparison of systems in Northern, Southern, Central & Eastern Europe, USA, China, Developing countries, Australia
Who should take responsibility for Lifelong Learning in the UK?
Decentralisation. Localisation. Roles of government, voluntary & third sectors.
How might we integrate Lifelong Learning more into the Life Path?
Leisure. Culture. Responsibilities. Stimulation.
What really happened to the ‘Learning Society’?
Rhetorical ideologies. Simplistic overview.
Has Lifelong Learning been hijacked by the workplace?
Confusion between formal, informal and non-formal education.
How do older adults feel about opportunities for Lifelong Learning?
Case studies. Secondary evidence. Opinions of leaders.
What challenges are there because we are living longer?
Time. Depression. Isolation. Staying active. Economic sustainability.
Through the answers to these questions, and others, I should be able to arrive at some kind of basic idea of how to suggest a model of Lifelong Learning for the immediate future. This will evolve from a recognition of the past and a realisation of the present.