“The learner as a reflexive agent
Learning facilitates a process which enables the learner to reflect on his/her life and environment. From the point of view of a provider of learning opportunities, learning materials and events must be organized so as to help the learner learn how he/she learns. The learner’s reflexivity cannot be sufficiently guaranteed by external learning resources or teachers and mentors alone. Lifelong learning needs to aim at building this competency through the eyes of the learner. Research on long-term memories generally suggest that meaningful memories, in which the learner understands its logic and associations, are retained and retrieved better than short-term and rote memories.
Another way to promote learner reflexivity is to encourage his/her own active engagement in problems. The learner needs to self-question and critically analyze learning processes and results. Learner comprehension and self-management of learning processes and results are two important bases for the development of self-reflexivity.
The learner as a self-actualizing agent
Motivation is intrinsic when a person studies because it is enjoyable and important in itself. Motivation is extrinsic when learning depends on rewards external to the action itself. The learner can be motivated to satisfy primary needs (e.g., food, water, shelter) but once these primary needs are fulfilled, he/she is motivated to fulfill secondary needs (e.g., social approval, competence, literacy, etc.). Many human behaviours are motivated intrinsically. Self-actualization (orfulfilling one’s potential as an individual), curiosity, and exploration are lifelong drivers of human action.
The learner as an integrator of learning
The challenge for the lifelong learner is the so-called integration of thinking, feeling and action. We know that information analysis (cognition) motivates us to act. In recent years, the notion of multiple intelligences which encompasses “emotional” intelligence is drawing more and more attention. Goleman (1995) suggests that emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness and impulse control, persistence, zeal and self-motivation, empathy, and social deftness. For example, we know that exercise is essential to fitness and health. But although many people acknowledge this, most of us cannot sustain regular exercise, perhaps because our cognitive understanding of it is insufficient. We need to put our thought into action and feel the effects of exercise directly on our bodies. It is therefore important to integrate our thinking, feeling and action.
Another aspect of integration involves managing learning opportunities, taking advantage of all the different learning settings, whether in-school or out-of-school, formal or informal, and across a wide range of learning content.” MENDEL-ANONUEVO, 2001
- Self directed Learning
“Self-directed learning is not a new concept. In fact, much has been written about it. Unfortunately, however, it is a notion that has a variety of interpretations and applications in the corporate training arena. Typical, narrow interpretations involve simply giving learners some sort of choice in their learning. For example, allowing learners to select one or more courses from a curriculum, or, in cases of structured on-the-job training, allowing employees to choose what pre-designed modules (e.g., a video tape, workbook, special reading, etc.) to complete. In terms of e-learning, the fact that learners can determine which modules or scenarios to review is also frequently touted as self-directed learning.The fact that the learner has a choice and makes a decision to select this or that module does not constitute true self-directed learning.
This interpretation is too limited. Self-directed learning is much more. Using the analogy of taking a trip, the narrow interpretation of SDL is equivalent to selecting where to go, i.e., the destination. The essence of the notion of self-directed learning advocated here, however, is broader, more fundamental. It is about the learner deciding not just where to take a trip but how they will go (both the means of transportation as well as route), when they will leave, how they will get there and how long they will stay.”
University of the Third Age (U3A)
Always wanted to learn French or Spanish, study art history, or join a book club?
Maybe you’d like to discuss psychology or philosophy, try yoga or tai chi, go walking with others, or even have a go at writing your memoirs?
The reasons for lifelong learning are compelling and as a growing body of research shows, both mental and physical fitness are crucial to wellbeing as the body ages.
The University of the Third Age is an international movement dedicated to lifelong learning and gives participants a chance to pursue interests in the company of others.