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Using Biographical and Life History Approaches in the Study of Adult and Lifelong Learning: European Perspectives


Edited By Linden West, Peter Alheit, Anders Siig Anderson and Barbara Merrill

This book illuminates the rich and creative uses of biographical and life history approaches in studying adult and lifelong learning, in diverse ways and settings, across many European countries. It draws on the work of internationally known scholars – under the auspices of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) – and encompasses learning in the workplace, in families, communities, schools, colleges and universities, as well as in the professions, and in managing processes of migration and building new social movements. The reader will discover, in these pages, a compelling chronicle of the interplay of learning across people’s lives – formal, informal and intimate – and how to make sense of this, using interdisciplinary perspectives. The book will speak to researchers – new and experienced – and educators and other professionals wanting to extend their understanding of learners and learning as well as the potential of this ‘family’ of research methods.


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3 Lifelong Leaming and Biography: A Competitive Dynamic Between the Macro- and the Micro Level of Education


Peter Alheit and Bettina Dausien Introduction In the educational debate of the past 30 years - and especially during the most recent decade - the concept of lifelong learning has been sharpened strategically and functionally. In a certain sense, it stands for a new way of specifying the educational tasks in the societies of late Modernity. In its highly influential document on educational policy, the Memorandum on Lifelong Learning (2000) the European Commission stated that "Lifelong learning is no longer just one aspect of education and training; it must become the guiding principle for provision and participation across the full continuum of learning contexts" (Commission of the European Communities, 2000, p. 3) . Two decisive reasons are given for thi s assessment : 1 . "Europe has moved towards a knowledge-based society and economy. More than ever before, access to up-to-date information and knowledge, together with the motivation and skills to use these resources intelligently on behalf of oneself and the community as a whole, are becoming the key to strengthening Europe's competitiveness and improving the employability and adaptability of the workforce; 2. Today' s Europeans live in a complex so ci al and political world. More than ever before, individuals want to plan their own l ives, are expected to contribute active\y to society, and must \eam to live positively with cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity. Education, in its broadest sense, is the key to leaming and understanding how to meet these challenges." (Commission of the European Communities, 2000, p. 5)...

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