Ways to Pay for Learning

I’m sounding some people out at the moment with a rather controversial idea. It is based upon countering the argument for the cost of lifelong learning and whether some people could be excluded from opportunities due to the cost.

I am trying to develop ideas for other ways that people might be able to contribute (‘give back’ in return for accessing lifelong learning experiences such as courses. One idea is along the lines of: For every ten hours of experiences received, one hour can be committed back to the community. Now, I realise this will cause some people to gasp, but I beg of you some indulgence just to think about it – I’d appreciate anybody’s comments, for or against.

Sound fair?

Well, perhaps, based upon a variant of a Quid pro Quo system, this provides an alternative way for people to enjoy experiences such as courses and to develop themselves, and in return, all that is asked for is a little of their time.

What could people ‘give back’?

How about:

  • visiting someone lonely to make them a cup of tea?
  • Reading a story to a playgroup?
  • Mowing somebody’s lawn?
  • Picking up litter?
  • Walking a dog?
  • Painting a fence?
  • Talking to someone for a while?
  • Writing a story for a local newsletter?
  • Using a personal skill to do something for someone?
  • Staffing a bookstall for a youth club at an event?
  • Change a room around between courses?


But, how could it be administered/ co-ordinated/ monitored?

Yes, I agree this requires further thought and I do not have any sensibly considered suggestion for this at this early stage. However, the off-setting of benefits to the community offered by people being encouraged to give time can only be a good, positive thing. People having some way of paying for something they could engage in other than reaching into their pocket (even if they are simply too tight-fisted) could encourage a more reciprocal attitude to living in a community.

Developing a community ethic, indeed, trying to transform the notion of ‘community service’ as an affirmation of communal responsibility rather than branding it as a punishment, is going to require a complete change of attitude. What moves me about the initial idea of this is that it attaches a value to the time that people can give – something we often take for granted. Indeed, the majority of people of all ages could give a small amount of time in return for receiving something extra from society.

I agree it’s contentious, but I’d like to find out what people think of this idea, or have any different suggestions to answer the possibility of paying for lifelong learning in different ways.