Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
1. Kenneth Wain and the Protean Challenge of Lifelong Education and the Learning Society
From his 1984 and subsequent papers, Wain held that “lifelong education” could bear wide terms of reference and applicability in education. His version was the “maximalist notion” implicit in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) “programme.” This term “stands for a programme to reconceptualise education totally according to the principle that education is a lifelong process ... for a complete overhaul of our way of thinking about learning, for a new philosophy of education and ... for a program of action, as the ‘master concept’ for all educational planning, policy-making, and practice” (Wain, 1987; see also Dewey, 1966).
There is much to be said for the maximalist position. Wain’s taking lifelong education as a “progressive research program” (Lakatos, 1976) offers us an account of “lifelong education” that merits serious consideration. The chief principle at work here is that of inclusion and the attenuation or removal of barriers to participation in educational provision; this subsequently provides the grounding for the idea of the “learning society” (see Wain, 2004). For Wain, lifelong education (and now “learning”) relates to learning of all kinds and institutional settings, formal and informal, and places the burden of choice and decision making on the learners themselves. It is a mode of learning that sits well with recent advances in theories and models of effective learning (see Wain, 1993a; 1993b).
Central to Wain’s arguments about lifelong learning is that education is not an enterprise that can be limited in the ways in which...
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