I have heard the term lifelong learner all my life. Why? Because I am Australian, and the idea of the lifelong learner is at the core of our education system. To be a lifelong learner means being able to learn at all stages of life – from birth to death.
What a life-long learner society look like?
I can give you several examples form my own experiences:
The first time I encountered life long learning was at university. A typical university class is Australia for first years has people aged from 18 to 70 or even higher. A friend of mine told me that his computer game design course had a 72-year-old woman in it. At the end of the course she had designed a decent computer game programming and all.
People over a certain age in Australia can get into any degree they choose based on life experience. A life long learner-based society values a person’s life experience as knowledge. Lifelong learners share their knowledge.
In Australia many young mothers start university in their mid-30s often studying to become teachers. When I studied to be an elementary school teacher a quarter of the people in the course already had children.
There are many cases in Australia of people changing their career halfway through their life. My own father was a teacher from the age of twenty-two. In his forties he decided he wanted to change his career. He started a law degree. He retired as a judge at 70 years old.
My mother, who is now 68 years old is currently studying Japanese once a week at a language school in Brisbane. She loves doing it and can now introduce herself, her family and can talk about what she likes to do in Japanese.
In Australia learning is encouraged no matter how old you are.
What are the benefits of being a lifelong learner?
- Improves your career opportunities: the best jobs go to the people who can learn about the latest technologies and trends.
- Improves your confidence: learning something new is challenging but accomplishing a challenge brings you happiness, joy and renewed self-esteem.
- Education becomes second nature – learning and sharing your knowledge becomes who you are.
- Improves interpersonal skills – learning is a social experience, learners are engaging in life and people around them. when we share what, we help others learn and further enhance our relationships
- Improves ability to communicate – the four language skills, reading, listening, writing and speaking are enhanced by the learning process.
- Helps you find meaning in your life – lifelong learners can look back on their lives and find meaning in everything they’ve done good or bad
- Opens your mind – Lifelong learning is about sharing ideas as well as gaining knowledge, in a judgement free environment. Listening to others allows us to see both sides of an issue.
And if that doesn’t convince you that you should lead a life of continued learning check out these two quotes: