Supplementing Current Model of Education with Lifelong Learning

Shreelekha Singh
December 1, 2020
5 min read

You may have come across multiple metaphorical analogies of the mind being a vessel that never fills until the very last moment of your life. 

Keeping the old sayings and maxims aside, imagine yourself in a world that is constantly changing. How do you fit into this dynamic world when most of your knowledge acquired over years of schooling and college becomes... obsolete?

This is the world we live in. With the fast-paced development of technology that is redefining human existence, a huge quantum of your education and skills is susceptible to becoming irrelevant in the years to come. 

What is lifelong learning?

From Albert Einstein to Henry Ford, some of the most successful individuals of their time have spoken about the importance of learning throughout one's lifetime. 

At its best, lifelong learning is the self-driven pursuit of knowledge that goes beyond the formal sources of learning in schools and universities. It is instead an ongoing process of learning and upskilling motivated by the desire to better yourself. 

The concept of lifelong learning is premised on the idea of gradually maximizing your potential instead of putting a period altogether after the end of formal education. It's a mindset that propels individuals to keep learning, whether for personal or professional development. 

university education

How is the current education model hampering lifelong learning?

The current model of education is restricted to a fixed curriculum. We operate as per the standard format of a three or four-year coursework followed by another one or two years of learning, in some cases, and then seeking employment.

This model equips you with skills that can only help in launching your career rather than sustaining it for the long run. It fails to help you keep pace with the changing industry standards.

Relying on this framework limits your learning ambit to the basics that might turn obsolete within a few years of service. In a world pacing towards greater heights of automation, rendering human efforts redundant and emphasizing the importance of knowledge-based jobs, the concept of lifelong learning is more pertinent than ever. 

How to get started?

As opposed to restricting your learning curve to a few years of formal education, lifelong learning empowers you to keep building and improving your knowledge and skills through a self-paced process. Here are a few actionable ways in which you can turn yourself into a learner for life and be ahead of the curve. 

🤓 Cultivate Curiosity

The very first step to start your journey as a lifelong learner is to ignite your curiosity. Your inquisitiveness is the biggest driver towards learning anything, whether from scratch or adding to the existing knowledge.

If you are struggling to form a habit of working towards your learning objectives, then answer questions like why you are interested in the chosen subject and how it will help you in the future. Jot down these answers to remind yourself of why you started in the first place. 

cultivate curiosity

🐾 Create Your Personalized Learning Framework

The best part about becoming a lifelong learner is that nobody dictates the terms for you. Instead of restricting yourself to a pre-determined, one-size-fits-all curriculum and assessment, you get to decide your own framework for learning. 

Creating your own plan is easy when you follow these steps:

  • Pick a domain - You have to first think of a subject that you wish to learn more about. This can be a skill that you wish to strengthen or a research area or anything that piques your curiosity. 
  • Outline some realistic goals - The next step in the process is to set some objectives that you want to accomplish through this learning endeavor. It can be something measurable like completing 2 books in a month or non-measurable like developing a taste for rock music. 
  • Decide your mode(s) of learning - Once you have some clarity over what you wish to learn and what to accomplish, you can decide 'how' you can go about the learning process. 

🧭 Choose How You Learn

  • Ask for Help: For a lifelong learner, the definition of a mentor differs from the standard one. A mentor can be anyone who inspires you to be a better version of yourself. They can be a senior at work or a connection on LinkedIn! Seeking help from somebody you would like to learn from is a great way to expand your horizons.
  • Get Regular Feedback: Working individuals can find the areas of improvement by proactively seeking feedback from supervisors. The beautiful thing about feedback coming from the right person is that it answers the very first question of what you learn. 
  • Opt for online courses: The convenience of online and on-demand learning allows you to reskill or upskill yourself anytime, anywhere. Find a relevant course from a huge dossier of courses on platforms like Coursera and Udemy to garner a deeper understanding of any subject. Learn new skills or augment the ones you already have, online courses give you the opportunities to enhance your employability.
  • Shadow an expert: The practice of job-shadowing is particularly instructive for those looking to become better at their work and amplify their value. It is an informal practice of replicating someone in your workplace to learn how things are done. It gives you the opportunity to not only glean new insights about your work but also to ask relevant questions for improving yourself. 
  • Utilize online resources: The internet is an endless repository of information. From blogs and podcasts to Twitter threads and Instagram posts, there are many valuable resources to steepen your learning curve. The web will bring you some of the best solutions for personal fulfillment and development. 

At the end of the day, the idea of lifelong learning lies in your ability to learn from the simplest of ideas with the determination to enlarge the spectrum of your knowledge. Eartha Kitt summed it up perfectly when she wrote “I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”

Shreelekha Singh

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