Dylan Brennan: Beyond the Classroom Lifelong Learning

Dylan Brennan

High School Teacher

People often associate the phrase “Lifelong Learning” with formalized, postgraduate endeavours such as Masters Degrees or Doctoral studies. While postgraduate education is certainly important and can open many doors that otherwise may prove difficult to enter, we should remember that having a piece of parchment and wearing a funny hat at graduation is not the be-all and end-all of our learning experience.

So, why exactly should we be interested in the concept of Lifelong Learning? Well, for starters, and, perhaps, most importantly, the world around us is constantly changing and that fact presents us with a wide range of problems and opportunities. According to the Rutgers Division of Continual Learning “Lifelong learning is one of the most effective ways to deal with change, and change is constant – change in our personal lives, change in our work lives, change in our local communities, governance, associations and organizations.” For example, I remember when I was in secondary school I first heard about the Internet. Very quickly I had to learn what that was and how it could be useful to me in my life. There was no exam for this and no grade. Yet it was essential. Imagine not knowing how to use the Internet in this day and age? Unfortunately, for some, due to educational or economic factors, this is a reality.

Peter Drucker, a very influential writer on the art of management, wrote: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” For this reason, whether you are studying mathematics or literature, art or science, you are constantly employing analytical tools and logic. By using these on a daily basis you are not only memorizing information that may be important to pass an exam but also developing your ability to reason, to choose for yourself that which is important and that which may help you in your life outside school, beyond the realm of formal education.

Aprendizaje continuo más allá del salón de clase

Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission, refers to the four “pillars” of education for the future and defines them as follows: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. Taken all together we can refer to these pillars as “learning to learn”. So don’t be afraid to ask your teacher why you are learning what you are learning. There’s a huge and fascinating world out there for each of you, embrace it. You will never learn everything, but you will find trying to do so both rewarding and fun. Remember this ancient piece of wisdom: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.”