Lifelong learning

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Lifelong learning , also known as lifelong learning , is a concept that aims to enable people to learn throughout their lifespan . Lifelong learning relies heavily on the individual's self and information skills and has found acceptance in many educational policy programs, both conservative and progressive.


In 1962, lifelong education was first mentioned as a topic in the documents of international organizations . As part of the UNESCO conference in Hamburg at the time , there was an indication that the International Committee for the Advancement of Adult Education set up by the Paris headquarters was addressing the demand for lifelong education for all . Despite the multiple uses of the term, there never was a universal definition. Individual historiographical works have followed up relevant ideas from éducation permanente, lifelong education, recurrent education to lifelong learning, along expert papers and political programs and, in some cases, well into the history of ideas.

The Faure Report and the Delors Report were the key documents of the initially global debate ; later, greater emphasis was placed on the European area. The European Union declared 1996 the "European Year of Lifelong Learning".

In line with the vision on which the United Nations organizations are based, a publication was created in collaboration with UNESCO. It is based on international empirical educational and psychological research. A concept for lifelong learning is developed and presented with the aim of empowering people to optimally cope with all life challenges on the basis of individual self-determination. Accordingly, within the framework of this conception of lifelong learning, it is primarily a matter of promoting self-confident, intelligent and creative action and not primarily of externally determined the current and all too often short-sighted expectations of teachers and trainers, which are all too often short-sightedly based on certain performance (test results, selection criteria, profits) and employers.

German-language education debate and policy

Knowledge and skills of (high) school-based learning as well as vocational training and the first few years of work are - so the assumption - increasingly seldom sufficient to cope with a 30 to 40 year career and to actively participate in society. Even during and even more after school and vocational training, learning is not only achieved through participation in further training events . With learning in everyday life and the changing working conditions and requirements as well as the demands of a constantly changing society, new forms of informal learning and new ones, less related to initial vocational training and more related to certain formal ones, are emerging informal internal organizational learning processes linked career paths. The voluntary area or volunteering as well as the private, family area is named as an environment conducive to learning or competence.

Lifelong learning has received increasing attention in recent decades and has found its way into many educational policy demands and concepts ( curricula ). The European Commission then presented a “Memorandum on Lifelong Learning” highlighting the promotion of active citizenship and employability . The objective of “lifelong learning” is also a priority in Austria's government program in 2004 and an inter-ministerial strategy up to 2020 has been drawn up. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research wrote in 2004: “Lifelong learning helps to strengthen cohesion in society and to avoid exclusion as much as possible. As part of an overall strategy, the aim is to increase participation in education, to give all people more opportunities for personal, societal and professional development that corresponds to their talents and to help shape Europe as a location ”.

The ProfilPASS project should be seen in this context , which was developed as part of the feasibility study “Further training pass with certification of informal learning” by the Federal and State Commission for Educational Planning and Research Funding (BLK) to promote lifelong learning.

Despite these diverse references to the term lifelong learning, it is not possible to give a generally applicable definition of what exactly is meant by it - for example, the requirement for greater permeability of the education system or the possibility of certification of informally acquired knowledge. According to the EU definition, lifelong or lifelong learning comprises “all learning throughout life that serves to improve knowledge, qualifications and competencies and takes place within the framework of a personal, civic, social or employment-related perspective”. This very general definition, which is still valid today, was laid down in the document Creating a European Area of ​​Lifelong Learning in 2001.

With regard to people who have left working life, the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth found in 2007 that for the group of over 65-year-olds, lifelong learning is no longer about increasing their employability, but rather about maintaining it quality personal and social life is important. “Adult education for people over 65 should aim to enable them to actively participate in society in old age. The learning content can relate to general knowledge of politics and current affairs, in addition, the acquisition of skills for voluntary or honorary exercise of activities or the acquisition and maintenance of media competence is aimed at ”.


Necessarily unclear terminology

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Education states that the use of language in the field of "lifelong learning / adult education" is imprecise: "Lifelong, lifelong learning has always remained conceptually and content-wise since its first educational conceptions. There are different ideas and interests that are associated with the concept. The relationship between lifelong, lifelong learning and adult education often remains unclear. "

The "activation imperative"

The Kiel sociologist Klaus R. Schroeter criticizes attempts to stimulate people, especially those in the second half of life within the framework of active aging concepts , to be more active , be it in the form of an extension of the working life, be it in the form of voluntary activities or in form Participation in given further training measures that these represent an “activation imperative”, in that the people concerned are not asked about their wishes and needs when conceiving the corresponding offers and ultimately, if they are expressed, they are not taken seriously. In particular, the expression of the wish to have more free time is often interpreted as a demand for a “ right to be lazy ” (wrong -?).

Emphasis on optimizing human labor

Erich Ribolits criticizes the demand for the “willingness to learn lifelong” that an educational concept that is bound by economic interests concentrates on the “optimization of learning processes with regard to their relevance for economically usable work”, which also supports the discussion about the results of the repeated Pisa- Studies shape. According to Ribolits, the market or the employment office decided which content should be appropriated. The latter usually fails to provide evidence that this improves the chance of a new employment contract.

Although increasing the value of one's own workforce through more education is also in the interests of employees, there are critics who rate the willingness of employees to take part in further training measures as anticipatory obedience . The increase in learning among the participants in the offers for further training often falls short of the actual requirements in business and society.

The assumption that those who are not economically successful are not because they have not had enough (further) education should ultimately legitimize social exclusion . In fact, success in school, training and work depends more on the social background of the person concerned than is assumed by many.

Defense against externally determined forms of learning

Further criticism relates to the fact that the idea of ​​lifelong learning is perceived by many as threatening, more or less a “lifelong punishment”. There are massive fears of failure among many. Older people in particular, who are often no longer trusted with much, developed emotional resistance to formalized learning, even if they are good self-taught . Many adults are skeptical about education and training due to negative experiences from their school days. Others perceive it as just another burden that they have to accept for a successful life.

In 2007, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung's Education Network called for a culture of learning to spread in school, in which the “seduction to learn” replaces the “compulsion to buffalo” .

Mismatch between supply and demand

The term “lifelong learning” is considered euphemistic in view of the extremely modest participation in further training of about one week per year on average in the EU - including full-time students over 25. This is illustrated by the following empirical finding: “In 2012, 9.0 percent of 25 to 64 year olds in the EU participated in lifelong learning over a period of four weeks. The self-set target of 15 percent is still a long way off. The participation rate decreased from 9.5 to 8.8 percent between 2005 and 2011. “Only learning on the job has increased; other learning locations play a minor role. In November 2009, Ernst Kistler accused German companies of not being active enough in terms of further training for their staff. That is why a legally documented entitlement to further training for employees is indispensable, especially since “in the hustle and bustle of the intensification of performance and the delimitation of work” in company practice, such wishes often come to nothing.

As early as 2001, Werner Lensing criticized the fact that high wastage and a lack of opportunities to exploit institutionalized further training resulted in "at least fifty percent of traditional further training measures failing to meet the expectations placed on them to make the desired changes." Added to this is uncertainty, disappointment and demotivation among such participants who, despite high personal commitment, did not record any significant learning success. For Lensing, the fact that many academics who have just graduated from university have to go through trainee programs in companies in order to be fully usable is an indication that the state is often less suitable as an organizer of educational processes than institutions or processes that are not -formal or informal learning .

The European Association for the Education of Adults , an umbrella organization of European adult education institutions , demands that older people should be given easier access to high-quality education. Learning in old age should not remain a privilege of a well-educated minority. Educational institutions must provide more learning and counseling offers that are adapted to the needs of older people. In this context, companies should also be asked to support learning at all ages. Policies should also ensure that socially disadvantaged older people have access to education.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gottfried Hausmann: Introduction Paul Lengrand: Permanent education. Verlag Documentation, Munich / Berlin 1972. p. 17.
  2. OECD / CERI: Recurrent Education. A Strategy for Lifelong Learning. A Clarifying Report. Paris 1973.
  3. OECD (Ed.) Lifelong Learning for All. OECD Publishing, Paris 1996.
  4. Katrin Kraus: Lifelong learning - career of a central idea. Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann 2001.
  5. ^ Willy Strzelewicz : Lifelong learning as an educational task from a socio-historical perspective. In: Horst Ruprecht & Gerhard-H. Sitzmann (Ed.): Adult education as science (files of the Congress of the Weltenburg Academy. Volume 12, pp. 29–53). Wellenberg 1984.
  6. ^ Andreas Ledl: A Theology of Lifelong Learning. Studies on the pedagogical change of epochs with Luther. Vol. Volume 24. LIT Verlag, Berlin 2006.
  7. Edgar Faure / Felipe Herrera / Abdul-Razzak Kaddoura / Henri Lopes / Arthur V. Petrovsky / Majid & Ward Rahnema / Frederik Champion: Learning to Be. The World of Education Today and Tomorrow Paris 1972.
  8. ^ Jacques Delors: Learning: The Treasure Within. Report to the UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century Paris 1996.
  9. European Commission: Teaching and Learning. On the way to the cognitive society. White Paper on Education and Training. 1995.
  10. European Commission: Memorandum on Lifelong Learning. Commission staff working document. SEK 2000.
  11. European Union: European Year of Lifelong Learning (1996) . October 26, 1995
  12. European Years are always dedicated to specific topics and are intended to initiate discussions within and between countries.
  13. ^ Christopher K. Knapper, Arthur J. Cropley: Lifelong Learning in Higher Education. 3rd ed. London: Kogan Page. 2000.
  14. Helle Becker: Political Education in Europe. Federal Agency for Civic Education, November 6, 2012, accessed on February 22, 2013 .
  15. ^ Lifelong learning ( Memento from August 22, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), as of November 2004
  16. ^ Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth: Aging Societies in International Comparison . 2007, p. 82
  17. Federal Ministry of Education: What is LLL? Terms, orientations, basics . adult - the portal for teaching and learning for adults
  18. Klaus R. Schroeter: The myth of successful aging . Kiel 2010 (presentation by the author at the annual conference of the German Society for Geriatric Dentistry)
  19. Erich Ribolits: The work up? Vocational pedagogical pamphlet against the total purification of man in post-Fordism , Munich and Vienna: Profile 1995. Page 13 a and Page 168f. b
  20. Peter Draheim / Gitta Egbers / Annette Fugmann-Heesing / Bernd Schleich / Uwe Thomas / Marei John-Ohnesorg / Alexander Schulz: Education Makes You Rich - More Practical Orientation in Education and Further Training Theses Paper of the Working Group on Education, Research and Innovation Policy of the Friedrich Management Group -Ebert Foundation . 2009
  21. Catina Marten / Daniel Scheuregger (eds.): Reciprocity and the welfare state: analysis potential and socio-political relevance. 2007.
  22. Burkhard Jungkamp / Marei John-Ohnesorg (ed.): Social origin and educational success . 2016
  23. ^ Matthias Gronemeyer: German Bildungsangst. In: Deutschlandradio Kultur , May 6, 2013.
  24. ^ Manifesto for Adult Education in the 21st Century. In: European Association for the Education of Adults , December 4, 2015, p. 2 ( PDF ).
  25. Rolf Wernstedt / Marei John-Ohnesorg: The concept of education in transition: seduction to learn instead of compulsion to buffalo . Documentation of a conference of the Education Network from 5. – 6. July 2007
  26. Development of participation in further training. In: Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training : Annual Report 2014 , p. 27.
  27. Ernst Kistler: Good work and lifelong learning - the failure of further training in Germany . Long version of a speech given by the author at the conference of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the German Institute for Adult Education Leibniz Center for Lifelong Learning in cooperation with the Institute for Education and Educational Research of the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) Munich on 30. November 2009 in Berlin on the topic of “Further training as an element of good work for older people. Expand creative scope - use competencies ”held. P. 27f.
  28. Werner Lensing: Future-oriented training - a paradigm shift . Press release 379/01 of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. June 2001, p. 72f.
  29. ^ German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina eV - National Academy of Sciences -: "Learning in old age": Suggestions of the association for adult education . 2012