Lifelong learning is defined as an individual continuously acquiring knowledge and building skills throughout their lifetime. It is a voluntary and self-motivating effort to become knowledgeable for professional or personal objectives. It generally occurs through an array of experiences during all stages of life.
Characteristics of Lifelong Learning
Formal and Informal Learning
- Formal learning includes hierarchically structured school environments and school-like programs created for professional training.
- Informal learning involves the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes from everyday experiences and environmental influences.
- Lifelong learners must take responsibility for their own learning experiences. They must gain necessary learning skills and attitudes such as literacy, numeric abilities, confidence, and willingness to learn.
- Lifelong learners are responsible for funding their own continuing education with minimal support from the government or other organizations. A lifelong learner must be prepared to invest effort, time, and money for their learning experiences.
Stages of Lifelong Learning
Learning in ages 6 to 24
- Beginning learning experiences are generally from family members, peers, schools, employers, communities, and religious institutions. Social organizations and mass media also play a part in learning during this stage.
- The primary source of learning typically occurs in educational institutions from elementary school to higher education facilities.
- This stage’s learning objective is the holistic growth of learners in intellectual, physical, mental, social, and emotional aspects.
Learning in ages 25 to 60
- Learning that occurs throughout the midlife years or general timeframe of employment is commonly informal experiences through use of instruction media from occupations, places of employment, colleagues, and information technology.
- The nature and environment as well as mass media also play a role during this stage.
- Middle-aged adults generally learn from problem solving and from a variety of experiences.
Learning in ages 60 and beyond
- Learning in the older years often takes place from elderly activities such as sports, social work, art, music, and handicrafts.
- Elderly individuals also learn from participation in voluntary work and joining community organizations, associations, and clubs. This type of work is often very fulfilling and creates meaningful experiences because it benefits the society.