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What is Lifelong Learning?

Lifelong Learning

Contributed by: Cynthia Barrancotto, MLIS/Campus Librarian & Manager of the Learning Resources Information Center

SO…what does the phrase ‘lifelong learning’ really mean? And, why should I be interested in it? As your Campus Librarian, it seems that I am learning something new and interesting each and every day. And that is exactly what happened when I began writing and thinking about what the term ‘lifelong learning’ means, and how it is relevant to the work I do here at CHCP. Of course, I have my own thoughts about lifelong learning, and I am sure each of you reading this do also. Some of you may already consider yourself a lifelong learner, while others may aspire to become one someday. After completing my research for this project what I have concluded is two-fold, ‘yes’ I am definitely a lifelong learner, and secondly, I bet if you are not one now, you will surely be calling yourself one soon enough. How can we disagree with Henry Ford’s words: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

As with any assignment I am curious about I defaulted to my usual pattern of research. First, I ran a simple Google search using the term (in quotes, of course J) ‘lifelong learning’; that resulted in 6,730,000 hits. Next, I went to our college portal and logged into eGlobal and ProQuest. My search was then narrowed down to 12, 821 results, and last but not least I wanted to see what Books24/7 had to offer—this ended up with an intriguing collection of 1,264 eBooks. (By the way, do you know that you can view an entire eBook on Books 24/7, and print a page or an entire chapter for research purposes?) Finally, I went to one of my favorite search engines, Ask.com http://www.ask.com/and there I found quotations, scholarly articles, references to books, photographs, and more. Check this site out for yourself when you have time—bet you like it just as much as I.

Quotations always inspire me so here are a few I’d like to share with you:

  • As long as you live, keep learning how to live. Seneca, the Latin philosopher
  • The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.Michel Legrand
  • Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death. Albert Einstein
  • The education of a man is never completed until he dies.  Robert E. Lee
  • All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.  George Whitman
  • Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.  Socrates
  • Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.  Brian Tracy

Remember that I told you I used our College Portal and searched the database ProQuest? Well, that search resulted in many excellent references to articles and books focused on allied health and nursing, in particular. I like what this paragraph, authored by Caroline Minshell, Christina Butterworth, and Jo Henderson (Occupational Health 61.3/March 2009) reveals:

‘Lifelong learning recognizes that learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom, but takes place throughout life and ina range of situations. Over the past 50 years, constant scientific and technological innovation and change have had a profound effect on learning needs and styles. Learning can no longer be divided into a place and time to acquire knowledge (school) and a place andtimeto apply the knowledge acquired (the workplace).  It is not just confined to the classroom. We all learn something new every day--often without even realizing it. And, we learn in many ways.’

Another very current article (authors: Lisa Davis and Heidi Taylor) from Nurse Education Today(34.3/March 2014) relates the following:

‘Lifelong learning involves seeking and appreciating new worlds or ideas in order to gain a new perspective as well as questioning one’s environment, knowledge, skills and interactions. The most essential characteristics of a lifelong learner are reflection, questioning, enjoying learning, understanding the dynamic nature of knowledge, and engaging in learning by actively seeking learning opportunities. Keeping the mind active is essential to both lifelong learning and being able to translate knowledge into the capacity to deliver high quality nursing care.’

In closing, I ask each of you today….aren’t all of us lifelong learners? Students, I know that you are because each and every day you are learning more and more from your instructors who work hard to guide and teach you valuable information---information that will turn into knowledge which you will then share with others as you move forward in that journey called lifeInstructors and faculty, don’t we continue to learn from our own pursuits of knowledge, personal interests, hobbies, encounters and experiences with peers, friends and family? And, let’s not forget what we learn from our students either! They often teach us, as we strive to teach them—that ‘master teacher/student apprentice’ relationship is both valuable and rewarding.I realize now more than ever that what is so beautiful about lifelong learning is that it is an ever-evolving circle, one that grows largerand more fascinating, richer and more robust as time magically moves, swiftly without our realizing how fast each hour and each day passes.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you today. My wish for all you lifelong learners is that you discover and learn something special and unique every day and, best of all that this new learning happens without your even knowing it—be open for serendipity, it may strike at any time!