A Commitment to teaching and being in charge of delivering knowledge to students requires an individual who is open to receiving instruction and adapting to the dynamics of education. As a central part of society, education is always in a constant state of transition. It is, therefore, the responsibility of teachers to ensure that they keep up with the new knowledge that keeps flowing into the education system and that they are well equipped to deliver this information effectively. For teachers to achieve this state of preparedness, they must remain in a state of continuous learning, which can also be termed as constant learning.
Defining lifelong learning has been a complex issue, and depending on the context, its meaning is often uncertain. T. Fleming defines learning as a process through which learners become aware of the frame of reference through which they act, feel, and become critical of its adequacy. Enhancing and developing newer frames of reference that are more inclusive and discriminating of age is an essential type of adult learning, it is lifelong (Fleming, T., 1997). Lifelong learning is understood as a continuous self-initiated quest for knowledge; it implies that the learning process is constant through all stages of life. Green states that a learning society is one with recognized learning opportunities for every individual regardless of where they are or how old they may be (Green, A., 2002). Lifelong learning provides the individual with the opportunities to keep building skills and refining their knowledge throughout their lifetime.
The purpose of lifelong learning is to keep providing opportunities to enhance and update one's elementary skills while offering chances for learning at more advanced levels. In this dynamic society, where nearly everything is changing, lifelong learning is the only option for every professional to cope and adapt. Lifelong learning, however, is voluntary and could be used for the personal or professional development of a person. Continuous acquisition of knowledge has varying importance to different individuals. For some people, lifelong learning keeps them in the loop of the changing aspect of the society. For every individual, continued cognitive activity is essential for mental sharpness. In this case, therefore, lifelong learning equips the individual to be well adapted to society and fit in well with the changing times. Constant development and the dynamics of society require individuals to keep upgrading their knowledge in all stages of their lives to cope with modern times, both professionally and personally.
The reason for lifelong learning, in some cases, is professional development. Being an expert in a given field does not automatically imply that one is knowledgeable in the area and does not require additional knowledge and skills. Through lifelong learning, professionals get opportunities to improve their professional skills and acquire knowledge. Professional skills and knowledge development are inclusive of problem-solving, Critical thinking, leadership, interpersonal skills, and adaptability. There is an increasingly crucial necessary skill in this dynamic technological era; the ability to learn and effectively adapt to the needed skills and training(OECD,2007).
Lifelong learning is characterized by three essential principles which are; learning is social, lifelong learning should be through all stages of life, and it individual motivated. First, the process of lifelong learning should be centred around the individual. Personalized motivated learning involves centring the curriculum, delivery, and assessment around the needs and concerns of the learner. According to this tenet, lifelong learning is not only viewed as social behaviour, but it is also a lifestyle. The education they choose to take part in does not define them but rather by what motivates them individually. According to Dunlop and Gibson, individuals who voluntarily take part in their learning process throughout life have similar traits the right attitude towards learning (Dunlop, Gibson & Nesbit, 2007). Every individual should be open to new knowledge and skills that are important in adapting to social dynamics and self-improvement. Therefore, lifelong learning keeps individuals connected to society throughout their lifecycle. Self-motivated continuous learning keeps a teacher professionally competent and motivated to deliver updated and compelling content to their learners effectively. Ongoing education not only develops an individual's social awareness, experience, and professional competence.
Second, lifelong learning is social; this principle emphasizes that learning systems should be open and available to all members of society, which implies that all processes of learning should undergo the context of the development of modern society and provide equal learning opportunities. The process and methods of lifelong learning should remain diverse and available to allow teachers to learn and develop their personal lives and replenish their professional skills and knowledge. Education that is diverse and flexible at different places and times allows for individuals to pursue education throughout their lifetime. Basing on the Delors report of 1996, an education system that puts into consideration the four pillars of knowledge which are; learning to be, learning to know, learning to do and learning to live with others (Evaluate IT, 2004), gives learning opportunities to all individuals in the society. As an education professional, this tenet requires all in the teaching profession to have adequate opportunities to keep learning throughout their career, not only for professional competency but also for individual and societal development. This tenet targets the promotion of the formation of the learning communities.
Third, lifelong learning is a process that should be part of an individual's life through all their stages of life, from the cradle to the grave, which means that the entire human being is a process of learning. Through continuous learning, an individual is capable of adopting along with the changing life with the new skill set and knowledge acquired. According to Walters, if the process of learning is no longer present, the planet will not be able to survive (Walters S., 2010). For an individual committed to teaching, lifelong learning is vital to stay in tandem with the changing tides of knowledge and the difference in students that one handles at any given time in their profession.
As a practicing professional, the topic of the importance of lifelong learning to teachers has dramatically changed my professional functioning in different and yet essential ways. This topic comprehensively discusses the importance of continued education for teachers. As an individual who is interested in professional development and improvement of my career, it is my understanding that this can be achieved through lifelong learning. Through acquiring new knowledge and skills that are valid to my profession, I can be able to enhance my career.
Teachers have the responsibility of not only educating the learners but also shaping them to be fitting individuals in society. A committed teacher, therefore, should ensure continuous learning, not only for professional competence but to keep in touch with the ever-changing culture. Being a well-rounded profession allows the teacher to be able to the task of educating and shaping the personalities of the student concerning the community.
Considering all aspects of learning, formal, informal, and non-formal, teachers should be willing and have opportunities to access lifelong learning. Not only for the well-being of the students, they are trusted to educate and nurture but also for their benefit. Lifelong education enables teachers to have a chance at quality life and personal development.
Walters, S. (2010). The planet will not survive if it is not a learning planet: Sustainable Development within learning. International Journal of Lifelong Education (432-436)
Fleming T. (1997) Lifelong Learning: Challenges for Later years. Learning in Later Years (2)
Green A (2002) The many faces of Lifelong Learning. Journal of education policy17(6), 615-628)
OECD (2007) Qualifications and Lifelong learning: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Retrieved from www.oecd.org/dataoecd/10/2/38500491.pdf
Dunlop Catherine, Nesbit T, and Lorrain G., (2007) Lifelong Learning in Institutions of higher Learning (34-65)
Evaluate IT (2004) A resource kit for evaluating community IT project. The Queensland University of Technology Retrieved from https://www/evaluateit.org/evaluateit.print.pdf
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