Concepts and practices of education and adult education: obstacles to lifelong education and lifelong learning?
Over the last half century, in varying degrees and under various names, there has been much interest in learning throughout life for everybody. Although what has been written has stressed its necessity and feasibility, little has been achieved. As is common to all things educational, it has lagged behind the times. Little considered and highly resistant among the obstacles to it are the current concepts, institutions and practices of education. The widespread, systematic study of education in the 19th century grew out of the need to train teachers required by the introduction of universal primary schooling. Concentration by teacher trainers on this task, and their struggle to establish their subject as a coherent discipline to be taught in institutions of higher education was such that the prevailing view of education came to be restricted not merely mainly, as hitherto, but only, to the upbringing of children and young people. Rejecting this view of necessity, adult educationalists have sought for their own field academic recognition as a discipline, emphasizing their differences from initial education. Study of current educational writings from many countries shows that the reconciliation of these two positions, necessary to lifelong education, has not gone very far. Consideration of what might be done to create a process and a habit of lifelong learning for all on the basis of current practice and theory of initial education and adult education, of which lifelong education can only be a contributory element, will require fundamental changes in both. There are few signs so far of the political will and the sense of urgency that will apparently be required.