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Reflexivity: towards a theory of lifelong learning

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The idea that the present is a period of intense structural and destabilizing change has become central to establishing policy contexts, to which there needs to be a response. Change and adaptation to change have become watchwords of policy, including educational policy. One central area of response in the UK and internationally has been the emergence of lifelong learning as a focus of policy development and academic debate. While there has been much discussion about the nature, extent and significance of lifelong learning as a policy goal, there has been little theoretical discussion specifically of the nature of the learning required to engage with the change processes to which it is meant to be a response. It is the purpose of this article to open up that area of debate. It is suggested that while policies for lifelong learning focus on the accumulation of skills and qualifications as an adaptation to change and uncertainty, a less passive notion of learning requires the development of reflexivity. It is to an initial elaboration of a reflexive notion of lifelong learning that this article is aimed, as the authors believe that a more behavioural, adaptive version of lifelong learning dominating policy and practice is being developed, in which reflex rather than reflexivity is taken to be the locus of learning.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-11-01

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