Earlier, formal learning was assumed to last a lifetime. But, over the decades, this has changed. People have understood that knowledge or skill does not have a shelf-life and that learning needs to be continuous.
To quote some famous people about their thoughts on lifelong learning.
Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Learning is a continuous process, and there is no age limit. The term that could be linked with this notion is “Lifelong Learning”.
What is this lifelong learning? Lifelong learning is an individual’s voluntary pursuit of knowledge for various reasons, whether professional or personal. In layman’s terms, it is the process of gaining skills or knowledge throughout one’s life. This learning is not about earning a degree or certificate but about life enrichment.
One might wonder why anyone would want to learn throughout their life. The reason behind people learning throughout their life is because of the benefits associated with it. A few of them are outlined below.
Enhances cognitive function
A study identified that continued learning or involvement in intellectual activities such as acquiring new skills influences individuals’ reasoning, episodic memory and working memory. These together improve cognitive function in older adults (Park et al., 2014). Lifelong learning improves cognitive function, not just in older adults. But it improves the cognitive function of people of all ages.
Continued learning helps upskilling individuals. For students, this is particularly important to shape their careers. Also, acquiring new skills and knowledge opens up new possibilities and opportunities.
Lifelong learning is an individual’s willingness and interest to learn or acquire a skill, and it could be a hobby too. Over the course of time, this habit of continued learning helps enhance confidence in individuals that they could learn any skill and acquire knowledge.
Personal interest and goals
Lifelong learning helps in identifying an individual’s passion, interest or goals. In particular, for students, this would help in recognising students’ goals and personal interests. Learning not just helps in recognising the goals and interests but helps improve the necessary skills.
Learn practical skills
Lifelong learning helps an individual go beyond what is taught in school or college to acquire practical skills. Some practical skills are communication, arts, and computer skills. These are essential both professionally and personally.
Lifelong learning or continued learning could be practised only through interest emerging from an individual. It cannot be enforced, but students could be encouraged to practice lifelong learning. Practising this at an early age facilitates students’ growth and personal development. Moreover, learning does not necessarily require one to attend classroom teaching. Various online platforms offer a range of courses that facilitates lifelong learning. Thanks to the pandemic that introduced the students to online learning, the students could use such platforms to aid them in their lifelong learning path.
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